El Paso, Texas

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Usually I am totally excited at the prospect of a new place to visit but, on this occasion, I was less than certain. All through our planning I had tried to avoid the towns close to the Mexican border. Various troubles had been flaring in recent weeks so I had deliberately organised a hotel to the north of the city and as far from the border as possible. But, for now, as we left Odessa, there were decisions to be made. We could take the endless highway or choose the scenic route closer to the mountains. No contest… let’s enjoy the scenery.
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Escaping Odessa (sounds like a spy thriller) took us initially through lots of nodding donkeys as, clearly, this is an oil town, but, as we turned towards the distant mountains, we encountered hundreds (and then thousands) more. Various sections provided names of co-operatives and this, no doubt, accounted for the huge numbers of oil tankers we met as we drove. Most seemed to be coming towards us and the traffic in our direction was fast flowing. The oil fields just got bigger and bigger and not only held storage tanks by the roadside but the odd oil refinery as well. This is the view of Texas which you don’t necessarily see on TV or film, although this vast state is an equally vast oil producer.
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Salt lake

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… halfway up a mountain (it was a very long straight road with no real undulation), having briefly flirted with a short spell in New Mexico.

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Eventually we were speeding along a highway halfway up a mountain (it was a very long straight road with no real undulation), having briefly flirted with a short spell in New Mexico. By then, we were approaching the mountains of El Paso with, initially, some evidence of military personnel which became a very strong military presence with armoured vehicles, trains with military hardware and then huge barracks. This should have been a comfort, but somehow it wasn’t.
We found our hotel, which was reasonably close to the major highway, and once again looked for places of interest. We quite fancied the novelty of a “Car Wash Diner” which was highlighted as a key attraction, so off we went towards the surprisingly large city to find this curio. I am not sure if our sat nav was having a hissy fit on this particular road trip but after the meteor debacle in Odessa we were taken to a built up suburb and politely told we had reached our destination. We tried every which way to reprogram the route, tried it on our phones, but, according to all, here we were! We concluded it had moved and by this time we were feeling the hunger pangs from just a piece of fruit for lunch. I had noticed a steak restaurant round the corner from the hotel, so back we drove to enjoy the most divine steaks…..when in Texas what else would you eat?!
It was a peaceful night. I am not sure what I was worrying about!

Carolyn’s Curios and Curiosities

Another day in the saddle!

Texas; briefly New Mexico and then back into the Lone Star State synonymous with Saturday morning cinema cowboy movies – Lone Ranger, Cisco Kid, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry… the list is almost endless. Over 300 miles from Odessa to El Paso through stunningly sparse yet hauntingly appealing countryside. We travelled at 75 mph for much of the way on roads which were barely A-roads in the UK but these were mainly as straight as an arrow. For about 250 miles we saw no-one on foot and only one brave soul on a bicycle. Scrub desert (and two salt lakes) doesn’t lend itself to farming and we didn’t see any cultivated land and only five horses and a dozen or so cows – in 300 miles! Even the one town we passed through, Jal, couldn’t even provide traffic lights but seemed to enjoy the queue of traffic their two junctions caused. 75 mph on open roads with minimal traffic but bunching and static at Jal suddenly demonstrated poor road management. There were many more enormous trucks than ‘family’ cars.

We were initially surprised to see nodding donkeys (pumpjacks) drawing crude oil from the ground but after counting dozens, hundreds, we gave up as there were thousands! Of differing sizes and ages, the pumps were scattered across the landscape with the odd flarings in the distance. But then we saw the future…? In 2009, the Roscoe Wind Farm was the biggest in the world and as we passed into New Mexico we saw our first solar panel farm. Amazing that in such a sun-drenched area that many more haven’t been installed. New Mexico also saw a change from oil extraction to gas (as well as much worse road surfaces – we saw a notice yesterday for ‘textured pavement’ a deliberate intention to improve grip – today wasn’t deliberate; merely worn and lacking maintenance!). We’d re-routed from our original schedule to visit the mountains after flatland after flatland – and we saw them!

And, so, into El Paso with some trepidation from news reports of tensions, border wall etc. We have seen nothing untoward and the people have been polite and friendly – as we have been, too!

Tomorrow is Tucson – another 300+ miles – and we’ll think of my Hyundai and Jojo who “left his home in Tucson, Arizona for some California grass.” (🎼🎶🎤 for Beatles’ fans!)

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When in Rome… well, El Paso, Texas… steak, loaded baked potato and wedge salad… wow! Fabulous. What else do you eat in Texas?! #delicious #filling at Saltgrass Steak House.
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When in Rome… well, El Paso, Texas… steak, loaded baked potato and wedge salad… wow! Fabulous. What else do you eat in Texas?! #delicious #filling
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