Tuesday, January 31, 2012

West of Eden

unripe fruit

We are at a small rest area in the median of US-87, just west of Eden, Texas (map). In contrast to the more common Picnic Areas, which we actually prefer and which generally consist of nothing more than a trash barrel and a couple of picnic tables, this facility has restrooms with running water, and free wireless Internet which has been off-line since we arrived. It is also somewhat larger, and we ended up with a handful of trucks as neighbors last night.

We had set a minimum goal yesterday of Brady, where we knew there was a Walmart. However at our lunch stop, at the picnic area east of San Saba, we decided to press on just a bit further than that to increase our cushion. Besides that, we would much rather overnight at a picnic area than a Walmart, and so we looked at the map to see what our options would be west of Brady.

On US-190, which is the most direct route, there is but one picnic area between Brady and El Dorado, and it's quite a ways from Brady. We decided instead to take the alternate route, heading a bit north of west from Brady to San Angelo on US-87, then south of west from there on US-67 until it intersects with I-10 east of Fort Stockton. Our map showed two picnic areas plus this rest area between Brady and San Angelo, which would give us more options for last night.

In addition to the three picnic areas, San Angelo also has a Walmart, which we figured to be the backup plan if none of them worked out. On top of all that, we've done US-190 more than once now, and this route is new ground for us, which is always welcome, and only added a dozen miles to the overall trip. Finally, US-67 intersects I-10 34 miles west of US-190, so we get to stay off the Interstate that much longer.

Neither of the picnic areas east of here was appealing for an overnight stop, nor did we feel the need to stop just yet, and so we continued on to this spot. It was quiet when we arrived, which gave us false hope for the night. Even though it was not particularly cold overnight, a least a few of the trucks idled the whole time -- outlawing this wasteful practice nationwide can't come soon enough. The free WiFi sign was also tantalizing; we were able to get on the hot spot but it had no connectivity to the Internet, even though I could ping the router from both sides. When I called support I learned there was already a ticket open; keeping the Internet working at remote rest areas is clearly low priority.

Today we will continue to San Angelo where we will stop at the aforementioned Walmart for supplies. We need to try to be someplace where our cell phones work at 1pm for a Red Cross conference call, and then we will continue west along US-67 to another picnic area. There are good choices near the towns of Rankin and Girvin, depending on how far we get. We are now back on schedule, with a full day buffer before we are due in Phoenix, and we'll try to maintain that buffer all the way there.

Photo by tech no logic, used under a Creative Commons license.

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