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Published: February 17th 2023
We arrived in Texas and drove across it, overnighting in Texarkana, North Dallas, and Abilene. It was cold and windy most of the time. Driving on the interstate through snow and slush in Dallas was not our most fun. From Carlsbad. NM, we made our third lifetime trip to Carlsbad Caverns. On to Dripping Springs from our next stop, in Las Cruces, for a sunny (!) warm (!) hike. In Willcox, AZ, we visited another favorite site, Chicicahua National Monument. And we observed tens of thousands of sandhill cranes migrating to a feeding spot north of Willcox just before dawn. Next, we drove on to Patagonia Lake State Park, where we had camped previously, but then they had no wi-fi access and now they do. I refused to go over the border to nearby Nogales, Mexico, but we did go to the city of Nogales, AZ. To a Walmart.
“The best laid plans of mice and men are often gang astray…”
My main hope for this trip was to be able to spend time in the warm sun, lazing and taking long walks. We have only had a couple of warm days, and many that were so windy that we weren’t tempted to spend much time outdoors. Oh, well, John says the forecast for our next destination, Tucson, is for three days of warm sun. Let’s hope…
John, though, can be pleased that his route plan and advance reservations have been good, because he worked very hard on them. We’ve enjoyed revisiting favorite areas. And our RV is a cozy place.
A few memories from the past couple of weeks arise:
John watches gas prices more seriously than ever before, and that’s always been pretty much an obsessive activity of his. Gas Buddy online is one of his best friends. Seriously, though, the variations are shocking out here, from $3.09 to $3.59, and that matters when you’re filling an RV tank.
We like to stop at local coffee shops midday on our trips. But we realize that much of that pleasure is sitting outside and people-watching. Well, this trip, the weather drove us inside, to old reliables - Dunkin Donuts, or Dunkin as some of the signs say.
Abilene TX claims to be the children’s literature capital of the country. The museum was supposed to be open, but was not. We did, however, stroll through an outside garden with sculptures of favorite characters from children’s books. I got to hug a sweet chubby Wilbur pig.
In parts of Texas, we passed clusters of oil wells and arrays of windmills near each other. Older and newer forms of energy, coexisting peacefully?
In Willcox, AZ, we participated in a special Valentines Day dinner at the campground cafe. Huge servings of prime rib. Pleasant, but not well enough attended.
We were reminded that some areas out west are incredibly flat. Just flat to the horizon, with nothing much growing on the land except short shrubs. A few cows grazing. The RV had a few small encounters with tumbleweed. On I-10 in western New Mexico, there are signs along the highway informing drivers what to do in case of duststorms. We luckily didn’t have any.
And then you arrive at rolling hills, and mountains, and though sparsely inhabited (by humans), it is lovely terrain to drive through.
One day, I chose a lunch restaurant named Farm House Kitchen. The waitress was quite a character. A “hon” as the Baltimore waitresses who call everyone “hon” are distinguished. But she also called us “dearie” and “sweetie.” She was the only waitstaff and she bustled around feverishly, constantly reassuring customers that she’d be back with coffee, or that their meal was almost ready. Fun to watch. And the food was very good!
Our arrival at this state park was unusuaL We had driven through chilly, somewhat windy, but mostly benign, weather. But suddenly, just as we were checking in, there were snow squalls, and it’s no exaggeration that the snow flakes were an inch in diameter. It continued to snow on and off, but didn’t last on the ground.
Our trip to the Walmart in Nogales was unusual. We suddenly encountered signs of “road closed,” and had to turn off the main route. There were a couple of “detour” signs, but not enough. So we found ourselves weaving all over Nogales. One major problem was a miles long stopped train, which blocked every road back to the road we were trying to get to. We also found ourselves at one point at the end of a road, with a tall fence topped with huge rolls of barbed wire in front of us. At that point we were ready to give up, and headed back to the highway to Patagonia. But happily we discovered a visitor center, and were given easy, reasonable directions to the Walmart. I guess the locals know the way, especially since this seemed to be a months-long construction project, or GPS’s work better than ours. Imagine being thrilled to arrive at a Walmart.
We found a great coffee shop in Patagonia, with the most delightful lemon pie crisps. We went back a second time, en route to Tucson, and were sorry we would have to say goodbye to it.
We also learned that Patagonia and its surrounding area had been a major mining area. We chatted with a representative of an Australian mining company that is currently revitalizing the mining in that area, for zinc and manganese.
We were horrified when Deborah emailed us with news of shootings at Michigan State, but she did reassure us that grandson Kai was safely locked in a basement room. Our hearts ache for Kai and everyone who will be forever affected by yet another terrible, incomprehensible tragedy.
And the next day we learned that there had been a crash and chemical spill on I-10 in Tucson, within ten miles of the KOA we were headed to yesterday The highway was closed for many hours in both directions but then reopened yesterday. As we drove by, we observed that the responders had dumped tons and tons of dirt on the spill to stop toxic gas releases. No one at this resort seems concerned.
Yesterday afternoon was a blissful opportunity to sit in the warm sun for an hour or so. This is what I had been so looking forward to! But today the wind is blowing up to 35 mph, and we are staying busy inside the RV. It is ironic. But despite occasional setbacks, we still enjoy our travels.
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