Friday, January 11, 2013

Wide open spaces

We are at a roadside picnic area on TX-302, adjacent to the town of Mentone, Texas (map).  There is nothing in town except for oilfield support, and nothing in any direction for miles except open range and oil wells.  There is very little oilfield traffic overnight, so it was dark and quiet here.  Monuments here erected in 1936 and 1968, respectively, tell us this spot was on both the Goodnight-Loving trail and the Butterfield Stage route.  We knew we would find a picnic area here, because they are marked on our older AAA map; we were dismayed to find the markings have been removed on the current edition that we picked up in NY this month, along with the symbols for county seats.  We'll be holding on to both editions.

Yesterday morning found us in El Paso, Texas, at a familiar Walmart (map), one of two that we frequent on our way through town.  We parked in the back, as we have in the past, and walked across the street to local icon Leo's of El Paso Mexican restaurant for dinner, an old favorite of ours.  Afterward, I walked over to the Cinemark theaters nearby to see Skyfall, while Louise stayed home.  As luck would have it, security came by while I was away and asked us to move around to the front parking lot, which I did when I got home and after Louise was already in bed.

That was our second Walmart of the day, as earlier we had stopped at the one in Deming, NM for provisions.  Had we realized we were going to stop in El Paso for the night we might have forgone that stop, but as it was, that put us on I-10 from Lordsburg to Deming, where we dropped south to our preferred route of NM-9 at Columbus.  At least NM-11 between the turnoff to Rock Hound and NM-9 was new ground for us. Between the provision stop and the two slower state routes, we were late enough into El Paso that we just decided to stop there for the night.  Well, the siren call of Leo's didn't help, either.

Just as well, because we were also having trouble deciding between a more northerly route due east out of town, or the southern route involving I-10 to Van Horn where we could bail off on US-90.  We knew for sure we did not want to just stay on I-10.  We've done the US-90 route several times now, and even though it would be warmer and a bit more comfortable down there, we ultimately decided on the more northerly route because it will take us across some new ground, and it's a bit shorter.

While there is cheaper fuel in both San Antonio and Houston, on this more northerly route, El Paso was as good as it gets, so we detoured to a Valero station on the southeast end of the city for 200 gallons of $3.589 diesel, about as much as we could fit.  Right now one of our credit cards is giving us 5% cash back at fuel stations, which eased the pain a bit.

From El Paso to the Guadalupe mountains we followed the now-familiar US-62; long-time readers may remember we got snowed on over night at a picnic area on this stretch.  Today's photo was taken at the next picnic area south of the snowy one. Just before the NM state line, we turned east on Ranch 652 to Orla, where a short bit of US-285 brought us to TX-302.  We crossed the Pecos just a few hundred feet west of here; the river is just a trickle this far north.

Today we will continue to zig-zag our way across west Texas on ranch and state highways, crossing I-20 in Midland.  Our goal is to join US-84 in Santa Anna, Texas, and US-84 will take us all the way to Savannah.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, if I had stayed in Alabama a couple more nights, our paths would have crossed for the first time!


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