Monday, May 9, 2016

May 9: Dallas, TX > Las Cruces, NM

Texas is big. Anyone that has driven across the state knows this, but as this was my first time driving the long way (East to West) it really is huge. I've driven across the panhandle of Texas twenty years before and remember that it was a long way, this was even more so.

Before I set out to conquer the western half of Texas, though, I wanted to visit Dealey Plaza, home to the infamous Kennedy Assassination in 1963.

I was only about 12 blocks from the plaza, so after packing my car I hiked westward. 

Dallas in daylight displays the old buildings very proudly. 

Dealey Plaza itself looked almost exactly like it did in all of the photographs and videos that I've ever seen, and it was quite a reverential place. 

The infamous "grassy knoll".

The book depository where Lee Harvey Oswald was located. This is also the museum dedicated to the JFK assassination, but sadly it did not open until noon, and I was pressed for time. 

Old Red Museum of Dallas County. 

On my twelve block hike back (in the drizzle) to my car I hunted in vain for a mailbox. What kind of major city doesn't have any USPS boxes? 

After returning to my car I had to then hunt down a gas station, as I was almost out. This ate up quite a bit of time - big cities almost never have gas stations anywhere convenient. I finally headed out of Dallas, and stopped for breakfast at a rest area.

A lot of this was in my future today:

We've got cows.

And what else do you think of besides cows in Texas? Oil!

I finally made it to Abilene and realized there was no way in the world I was going to have made it this far yesterday. I'm glad that I stopped in Dallas. I futzed around looking for a longer USB cable and finally found a Target. Of couse I bought the wrong type of cable.

After getting back on the main highway, near Roscoe TX I noticed what looked like a large brown cloud in the sky. It was in fact a dust storm, and I was amazing to see.

That stupid hockey-stick like reflection was from the dashboard, and marred many of my photographs.

I stopped for lunch shortly after the storm subsided, still in awe of what I had witnessed.

The speed demon in my was pleased beyond words.

Later on, in the middle of nowhere TX I stopped at a rest area that was dedicated to the "Rattlesnake Bombers".  Pyote Air Force Base had been home in World War two to a large bombing training facility, and the rest area was designed to look like a era specific airplane hanger and control tower.

As the day wore on, the land became more arid, dry and desolate. The wind picked up - I was driving into a strong headwind for most of the day. Combined with my speed (85 - 90 mph) resulted in me having the lowest daily MPG of the entire trip - 29.1. 

As I neared the Pecos, TX I started to climb into the Davis Mountains. They weren't very high, but the change in scenery was welcome. 

I eventually hit I-10, and started to parallel the Rio Grande and the US/Mexico border. I wanted to try to get as close as possible, so I got off of the highway and onto TX20 and spent a little bit of time wandering around. 

Where there is a fence, there must be a border, right?

I'm surprised the Border Patrol (or the owner of this orange grove) didn't come after me with a gun. 

In the end, this was as close as I managed to get to the border. 

Bleak side-road I ventured onto for a photo op.

El Paso TX looked like a lovely little city. I had planned to cross over into NM to camp at a KOA that was listed in the book, and then possibly come back to El Paso the next day to wander around a bit, so I didn't stop.

New Mexico, one of my favorite states.

Contrary to what the KOA guidebook stated, however, the KOA that was north of El Paso did not accept tents. So I pressed on to Las Cruces, NM and another KOA.

The view from the campground of Las Cruces proper.

I set up in the dark, and had a quick meal. I met two other travelers who were from the West Coast headed eastward, and spent a pleasant evening talking with them about traveling and our respective trips. Another long day, but I made it through Texas!