Started the morning with a walk around my cousin’s neighborhood in El Paso, still marveling about how much it looks like a neighborhood near my high school back in Southern California. Until you look up and see the mountains, that is, or feel that it’s almost 90 degrees at 8 in the morning! After the walk with Zoe, Java came out to play. They would run about and jump on each other and roll around for about 5 mins, then both sit and rest for 1, then start all over again. At only 4 months old, Java is almost Zoe’s size… that dog is going to be huge one day!
Carlo made me breakfast (thanks Carlo!) and then Zoe and I were off. This was going to be a long long day on the road. I had a bit of a scare early on, and thought the trip might be cut short, when the road led to a Border Patrol inspection station. Since I had not planned to leave the country, and didn’t leave the country, I didn’t have my passport with me. What happens when you have no passport at a border inspection station? Turns out, they didn’t even ask me for ID; just a few questions about what the heck I was doing there. The officer seemed surprised, but not suspicious!, that I was travelling alone, and then a bit envious that I was doing this on vacation time. He said he wanted to move to New England and would do so the minute a Border Patrol station was opened up there… somehow, I think it’ll be awhile.
Maybe an hour into the trip, we came upon the Union Pacific railroad; all the containers were closed so I couldn’t see what they were shipping… As I passed, I imagined the same train 80 years ago with with a bunch of stow-aways inside and on top of the train.. and one in particular strumming away on his guitar.
There’s a whole lotta nothing along US-10 from El Paso to Dallas/FTW, though the landscape does change quite a bit. There was a lot of desert for a long time, similar to the last miles of New Mexico. The area has been having a serious drought, enough so that there were road signs asking people to conserve water to help the wildlife. I expected to see oil rigs, but was surprised to first see growing clusters of wind farms. First there was a cluster of maybe a couple dozen turbines, none of which were moving; but then we got into Sweetwater, which called itself “the wind energy capitol of the world” and must have had hundreds of turbines. I should have taken a hint that all the turbines were moving.. this area also had serious gusts of wind that forced me to keep both hands firmly on the steering wheel just to keep going straight!
Just east of Pecos, the first oil rigs started popping up and then the numbers only grew. As we drove into this old oil region, I was excited to see the highway signs for towns like Odessa, Midland, Howard, Abilene, all familiar to me through “Friday Night Lights” (very interesting book, and great TV show). I decided to drive through the town of Odessa, hoping to see some signs of the incredible high school football culture described in “Friday Night Lights”. I was disappointed not to see anything related to the football described in the book, but did find the town exactly as described otherwise: bleek, empty, and long past its glory days. After about 10 minutes of driving through dusted, weathered, monochrome city blocks, we turned around and headed back to the freeway.
Just before Abeline, we took a detour to Buffalo Gap, an old frontier village restored into a historic landmark . Unfortunately we got there after closing, so we weren’t able to explore much. It seemed pretty similar to the 1880s town we passed a week ago in South Dakota. Had I been hungrier and not in a rush to get to Dallas, I would have stayed to eat at Perini Ranch Steak House, which is supposed to be well known and very very good. I’m kicking myself a bit for not hanging around for a bite!
After Buffalo Gap, it was one final 3 hour leg into Dallas. I was a little nervous because my iPad batteries were running low, and I really didn’t want to have to resort to the paper maps so late at night. Despite a necessary detour due to construction on the tangle of freeways in Dallas, we got to the hotel with a whopping 1% battery life left! Needless to say, the iPad is charging as I type.