Day 57 - Are we on the road to Baghdad?June 18 in the United States ⋅ 🌙 19 °C
Woke still alive & uninjured after a fairly reasonable sleep - Result. Shortly after 9.00am we lugged our rucksacks & stuff through the rubbish & down the stairwell. The car was not broken into & not damaged - Result.
I handed in our room key & told the receptionist that the rubbish in the stairwell needed sorting out, it was a fire hazard, a health & safety hazard & it stunk. She just dumbly replied “OK” to each of my points. Nothing will get done!
The sun was shining as we headed out of town. The city felt much better in the cold light of day & I was now feeling slightly guilty about my rant about El Paso, particularly as our friend, Angela, has a friend who lives there.
Anyway, having given the breakfast (coffee) at our motel a wide birth, we stopped at a McDonald’s on the city outskirts. It was cheaper than others in America, so that was a big plus for El Paso.
We hit Highway 180 eastbound & put ‘Doodle’ into Cruise Control, whereupon she propelled us at 70mph through an arid desert for well over an hour. We stopped only once to look at a Historical Marker which highlighted a Salt Lake that was the scene of many battles.
Afterwards we climbed up through the Guadalupe Mountains National Park. We didn’t stop & I don’t think I would have needed my pass anyway. We crossed back into New Mexico & to Carlsbad Cavern National Park, where we were amazed to see how many vehicles were in the car park. We went to the Visitors Center & received our tickets using my NP Pass.
As we walked to the Cavern entrance, I rang my Dad to wish him a belated Fathers Day. Sorry! We then were given a briefing by the Ranger & we were good to go. The path snaked it’s way down into the Natural Entrance of the Cavern, with cave swallows whooshing past our heads. The path took us down nearly 800 feet & then into into a Cave named the Big Room. Our total walking route was 2.5 miles long.
The sheer size & beauty of the Cavern was simply jaw dropping & came as a complete surprise to us. The Natural Entrance took us through the Bat Cave, Devil’s Spring, Green Lake Overlook & The “Boneyard”, which we didn’t need to be vetted for! The Big Room included the Bottomless Pit, Giant Dome, Rock of Ages & Painted Grotto. We took hundreds of photos but I doubt they will do the Carlsbad Cavern justice.
Time was ticking on & we hit the road heading for a town called Pecos, where we planned to stay the night, but room rates were ridiculously high. We headed along 180, then took a shortcut through a fields of small oil wells to join Highway 285.
US Highway 285 is the most horrendous road we have ever had the misfortune to travel on. I am not exaggerating when I say it felt like we were on the road to Baghdad. The Highway runs through hundreds of private oil & gas fields & gravel pits. Everywhere you looked, there were flare stacks burning off flammable gases. Along the side of the road were also half a dozen huge camps, reminiscent of Refugee Camps, full of RVs, sheds, garages, portacabins etc etc to house the oil workers.
There were hundreds of lorries carrying containers of every description that were throwing up massive clouds of dust. There were thousands of loaded up white pick-up trucks clogging up the road. We saw less than a dozen normal cars in the 70 mile stretch of road we travelled, so luckily our bright red Bug with the top down didn’t stand out like a sore thumb!! We had several lorries beeping & waving at us, I think they thought I was female!
It was a relief to arrive in Pecos, but it was also infected with white pick-up trucks everywhere. Literally everyone everywhere was a oil worker (or Gringo as Jackie calls them) in the standard uniform of baseball cap, filthy t-shirt, jeans & boots.
We pulled over outside the Museum to take stock. Another pick-up truck beeped & waved at me. This was getting silly, we needed to get away, but where? We drove to McDonald’s for a coffee & revised our plans. We decided to head to Fort Davis. Before we left I went to the loo & discovered there was a queue to have a shower. Let’s get outta here!
We picked up Texas 17, but for 30 miles the small towns were full of ‘Gringos’. The skies had blackened & we were treated to a nice lightening show. We passed through the Davis Mountains to the tiny town of Fort Davis. After a cruise up & down the only road, we decided upon Fort Davis Motel & RV Park.
It was 7.55pm when we checked in, then raced up the road to the Mexican Restaurant, the only place still open to get food. We both had a Burrito & a soft drink, they didn’t sell alcohol! We then went back watched the storm pass over & settled in to a lovely clean room.
Song of the Day - Going Underground by The Jam.
Bonus Song of the Day :-
Radio Baghdad by Patti SmithRead more