Published: February 22nd 2012December 31st 2011
Darkness had hit by the time it was my turn to drive. Heading along the southwest border of Texas, we are inching closer to Mexico. The idea is to head toward Marathon and Alpine and it’s another world. It’s dark despite it only being 630pm and the searchlights are out. Patrol cars are hidden in the shrubs of the desert. Other cars crawling along the off-road and it was hard to distinguish whether it was patrol officers or people smugglers picking up Mexicans from across the border.
Our intention the next day was to go into the Big Bend National Park, a hidden gem of America’s national parks. If we were lucky we could find some Mexicans for the trunk… When we arrived in Marathon the hotels were overly expensive so I called up a few hotels on my mobile and found one in Alpine less than an hour away.
My mind was over driving by this point. With around 2 weeks left I was speeding clocking 98 mph just cause I wanted it to be over. Luckily the police were pre-occupied.
We were also getting over the GPS voice so I
changed it to Spanish a week earlier, than to French, than to Quebec French. Even with that we still got lost. I realised soon after that there was a consistency with our wrong turns at. We had female speakers!
So I came up with the genius idea that the reason why we are getting things wrong at times is because we stopped listening to women after 2 months of the relationship. If we move to a male voice we’ll start to listen better. Result – No wrong turn. Although the male did have the advantage of the open lands of the west, it still rang true.
We settled in for the night and woke up the next morning to Robert Parish informing. “The clouds are looking pretty low and thick.” It is about a 4 hour round trip from Alpine for the short version of the Big Bend so we took the decision to move on and forget about it.
What that decision gave us was what I was looking for. A day or two in the snow and better still driving in a snowstorm! Because of our rare early start
we had all day to get ourselves to wherever in New Mexico. At this stage we were not aware that snow was going to be our day.
I have to admit I did get overly excited throughout the day. “Oh My God! Look at that! There’s snow on the roof.” “Oh My God did you see that? There’s ice hanging off the gutter.” That sort of stuff.
We weren’t sure where we were going to go apart from the first stop, Roswell. This was one of those well if we are passing by than I’ll go type destinations. We thought of El Paso, which turned out to be a good decision as that was snowed in. It was also a good decision to keep going once we left Roswell.
Whilst there we visited the UFO Museum. There you can join up to the International UFO Museum and Research Centre Membership or IUFOMRC. The museum is really well presented in not trying to brain wash you to believe it. Just gives you the facts and says make your own decision. For me, I don’t really care at this stage of my life
whether it’s real or not.
Just before we left Roswell we felt up some snow and it had so much powder it was lighter than feathers. The soft texture turned into a freezing pain soon after but we’d do it all again. There is a photo of a bus stop seat full of snow. I so wanted to sit on it with me next to a wall of snow both sides but I held back.
Instead we made the call to just head to Albuquerque instead. This was another great call as the other roads lead to smaller cities and state highways that would not take priority if the roads needed to be cleared.
So we kept going as the roads started to ice up and snow pressing up against he windshield. Dirty looking snowballs roll off the cars in front. For a moment they look like large stones. Cruise control was clocked off for the evening as it was dark now and if the road had too much snow the cruise control can misread and over rev. Whenever we stopped for a bit of time like when we left Roswell,
the windshield would ice up and the water to spray on the windshield had frozen up. I later found out we had a tool to scrap the ice off, two weeks after I finished the road trip.
In the end I think I got off lightly as Robert Parish got the graveyard shift although I couldn’t get a wink of sleep. Because of the ice building up, the car would slip slightly. Parish wanted to stop once saying, “If we go off that’s it we might be stuck for days.”
Fair point but we kept going knowing that once we made the major highway we were sweat. Passing cars stuck on the side from slipping off. Our GPS kept on saying how long we had left. One and a half hours it said a few times. But we had more like 2 and a half hours when going around 40 mph. The normal speed limit was 65.
We turned left onto hwy 40 and relief struck, we hit Albuquerque. A picturesque city with Sandia Mountains as a backdrop. I’ve said it before but America doesn’t have real breathtaking backdrops for its
cities. New Mexico is not one of them. The added bonus of the snow top mountain helped but its capital Santa Fe tops it.
We met up with a friend of mine an American I met on my plane ride to Morocco earlier this year. We met up for brunch and ate at Frontier Restaurant. A cheap food stop that is popular with locals. I would have liked to have stayed longer but time was ticking for this road trip and New Mexico mainly because of the weather meant it was a 36-hour visit.
Santa Fe is less than an hour away so in the course of 4 hours we came there and conquered and off to Flagstaff Arizona. Santa Fe in no way shape or form is what you’d think of in an American city, town or village. I thought I was heading to a little bit of North Africa or Mali. Basically no modern buildings just an old school style suited to the environment. The Pueblo style homes were built with Adobe technique of tightly compacted earth, clay and straw. Details follow a similar style that the early Native Americans used. Round
edge walls and flat roofs and heavy timbers extending though the walls to support the roof.
I was expecting New Mexico desert when we arrived. Instead I got the complete contrast of a snowstorm I never would have dreamed of. So powerful the images were for me on my one and only night in New Mexico I went to bed with images of snow hitting my eyelids as if my eyes were a windshield. I think my snowstorm experience will be looked on far more fondly than the poor lady who was stuck for 9 days surviving on two energy bars I found out about a week later in the paper. Perhaps in the end a lucky and great experience.
There are more photos below