After Dallas, the pit stops across the vast Lone Star State were meant as simple stops to break up the miles, so it was delightful to reflect on how much we had enjoyed them all. We mopped up the miles with great conversations, music when we could hone in on a good station and singing when we couldn’t. All was going really well until we set off from El Paso this morning for a long but straightforward drive to Tucson. Carolyn had a bright idea which would involve ignoring the sat nav and finding a route that more closely tracked the Mexican border. Ooo er Mrs! She assured me that all would be well, we were not going to cross into Mexico but she had found a road which followed the official border so we should be able to look at Mexico whilst driving in the USA!
Google maps offered us a peculiar route, taking us out of town via the suburbs and golf courses which we followed to the best of our ability. The sat nav didn’t want anything to do with our meanderings, instructing us to turn around when possible, until we turned off the sound and attempted to use Google Maps on a phone. We took a couple of turns which looked right, but clearly were not, and Carolyn decided to follow her instinct. We got onto a quiet dual carriageway and started to see signs for the border. No map in our possession showed a turn off to the somewhat mythical road along the border. There were farm tracks but no right turns. The signposts became more demanding about what we could and could not take into Mexico (guns featured) and we were rapidly closing in on the border crossing with no escape except for a solitary U turn point. I sensed Carolyn’s reluctance as she was certainly up for a face-off with the border guards but this lady was definitely up for turning. Phew. Didn’t want to go ‘down Mexico way’ today.
That wasn’t quite the end of that story….the official sat nav route, which we accepted with some bad grace, took us along the i-10 and I couldn’t quite believe it when we were guided by cones and flashing lights into a border checkpoint, somewhere in Texas or New Mexico. In a bit of a Thelma and Louise moment I wondered if Carolyn was going to put her foot to the floor! The car was photographed, automatically, then flash and our mugshots were captured too, only for us to be waved on by a gun-toting, smiling border guard. What border? We were in the US. I checked and found these points are on several freeways and highways in States which border Mexico to prevent illegal immigrants, undesirables, etc. Fooled them!
Our drive was a real wilderness experience. Over 300 miles with signs everywhere about what to do in zero visibility in a dust storm. You could see how that might happen in a vast desert bowl between mountain ranges where the only thing providing any anchor for the dust was scrub and cactus. An interesting day but happy in the hot dry air of Tucson with its shiny buildings interspersed with very white, very Mexican, lower structures. Our hotel is on the outskirts of the city and just across the road from an excellent Asian restaurant. Too good to miss and very much enjoyed. I doubt we were able to walk much further in the intense heat as it was well over 100 degrees in old money.
Arizona is by no means new to us but our visit here is a first, as is our next stop tomorrow when we roll into Phoenix.
Carolyn’s Curios and Curiosities
As I now own and drive a Hyundai Tucson, I wondered whether the Hyundai Tucson is called Hyundai Tucson in Tucson… it is! (But, the hire car is a Nissan Rogue but called a Nissan Qashqai in the UK – always like to ask questions!) #busybrain
A casual ‘find’ but delicious food with truly enormous portions. This was a ‘starter’ – the ‘entrees’ were too large for both of us and the invitation to take it ‘in a box’ for later was turned down! Enough!
Tucson was a brief stopover as we moved next to ‘Phoenix’ – more of that later. Tucson gave us a lovely meal, more sunny weather and a good rest after a longish drive. More incredible scenery with vast expanses of arid scrubland in a bowl surrounded by sharp peaked hills and mountains. We appear to have been in the Arizona-Sonora desert with Saguaro cactus about. Our trivial dust cloud experience was man-made and off the highway but the warning signs were ominous. The roads, as in Texas – because we’re now in Arizona – were mainly straight and fast. As we left El Paso, we had seen our first herds of cattle, albeit in stockyards and we saw one cultivated field in 300 miles. However, Tucson was well worthwhile as a staging post with a very acceptable ‘complimentary breakfast’ – we always like compliments!.
We have frequently commented to each other about the lack of solar panels in such a sunny clime. Tucson is remedying that. An arm of Tesla, SolarCity, appear to be driving this forward with car ports in parking lots with solar panels on the roof and charging points for electric vehicles built in. Great innovation – well done – and on a day when the world is seeking to resist climate changes!