Wednesday, February 9, 2011: Well, this morning we reluctantly leave Big Bend national Park. It has been a great visit and we are already making plans to come here again on a future trip.
First a side note. Before we hit the road I want to share with you some interesting folks we met a few days ago. Rudi and Rita are a middle age couple from Germany who are in the midst of a multi-year around the world RV trip aboard this beast.
It is a custom all-terrain vehicle sitting on a Volvo truck chassis. The thing is 28 feet long, 8 feet wide, 12 feet high and weighs 16 tons. It is known as a Special Expedition Vehicle and is made by the Langer and Bock Company of Germany. The 9.0 liter diesel engine produces 300 horsepower and averages 7 MPG. It carries 200 gallons of diesel fuel which in addition to feeding the engine also powers the heater and generator. The rig can make 80% of its electrical power needs with rooftop solar panels and can filter and purify water from most any source.
I parked our truck next to the behemoth and took the opportunity to shoot some photos that show the real size of the thing.
This thing makes my truck look like a toy!
Rudi and Rita are an interesting couple on a fabulous adventure. Check out their website at: http://www.menrad-international.com/english/motivation/.
On another side note: We have mentioned the unseasonably cool temperatures on some days in some parts of the southwest. However we were jolted back to reality by a couple of photos sent us over the past few days.
The first was sent to us by our daughter Kim and is of our home after one of the many blizzards to hit coastal Maine.
And the second is of our Camp sent to us by our son Joe on the day he rode his snowmobile across the lake to clear the snow off the sunroom roof.
So…..after viewing these photos, we guess the cool temperatures we have experienced are not bad after all.
OK, on with today’s journal. We hit the road at 1000 under cloudy and windy skies with temperatures in the 30’s. We chose TX-118 heading North through the towns of Study Butte (pronounced “Sturdy Butt”), over Hog Egg Mountain and on into Teralingua, home of the Ten Bits Ranch
If you’re looking for inexpensive land this is the area. We came across numerous “Land for Sale” signs and most were for $300.00 per acre. Of course that includes a whole lot of nothing…..as far as the eye can see…..and that’s pretty darn far!
As we climbed into the mountains the temperature dropped to the mid 20’s. We topped out at 4,657 feet before descending into Alpine, Texas where we rejoined US-90 for our journey west.
Passing by the town of Marfa, Texas (population 2121) we were intrigued by the sign for the Marfa Mystery Lights observation tower. However since it was only midday we decided to pass on this legendary local phenomenon.
A few miles down the road we came upon a USAF Tethered Aerostat Radar System (TARS) facility. Another fine Lockheed product…..and, like most everyone I came into contact at LM corporate headquarters it’s basically a big wind bag that sits around and doesn’t do much.
This part of Texas is so flat we spotted I-10 from 9.2 miles away. Even the mountains are flat on top.
In the small town of Van Horn we jumped on I-10 to make better progress. We soon came upon a motorhome in the opposing lane. It was pulling a travel trailer which in turn was pulling a utility trailer with a port-a-potty aboard. Nope…..don’t have a clue.
Crossing into the Mountain Time zone we gained an hour and decided to use it to get to El Paso at a slower pace. The town of El Paso takes its name from the pioneers that settled the western frontier. The word, of course, is Spanish and loosely translates to “don’t come near this place, there is nothing here of interest…..or it’s full correct name, El Paso de Placeo”. You may surmise that we dislike large cities and you would be correct. However there is virtually no way to pass El Paso if one is traveling west along the southern border. Of course you could detour through Mexico. Um, if you do, let me know how that works for ya.
North of El Paso sits the US Army post of Fort Bliss. A rather peculiar name for a military installation that specializes in blowing crap up. There is a large and very nice RV Park on the base and it served us well for a short stay to dump tanks, resupply (the pantry…..not the tanks), take care of laundry and rest up a bit.
This fellow was camping near us. Can you guess his martial state?
That evening I decided to partake of a popular local drink.
It possessed an intriguing bouquet and an unusual aftertaste as it tickled my palate, unfortunately it also gave me severe gas.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011 through Thursday, February 10, 2011—Fort Bliss, El Paso, Texas.
This base is huge! It encompasses 1,700 square miles and is the second largest US Army post in the world. The largest at 3,200 square miles? Well that would be White Sands Missile Range which is located in New Mexico 70 miles to the north. If it wasn’t for these two very large military installations El Paso would be just a small dusty west Texas town instead of the large dusty west Texas megalopolis it has become.
The base has over 35, 000 personnel assigned at any one time. It is a major training facility for various artillery, battle tank and missile divisions. The base also features a brand new Post Exchange (PX) which rivals any large US shopping mall, in size and appearance. The food court alone contains 15 different restaurants. We decided to partake of lunch in the food court and enjoyed the best Texas Barbeque this side of Kyle, Texas.
It was noon and most of the 35,000 personnel apparently decided to eat at the new PX Food Court. The place was packed! As we sat in the middle of a sea (or should that be field) of fatigue wearing soldiers we couldn’t help but overhear some conversations. Most were chatter about cars, girls, boys (after all this is the new military) and what NCO was the biggest jerk. However a lot of the conversations turned to stories about time served in the Persian Gulf. The stories were interesting and heartbreaking. A lot of these very young patriots were battle hardened combat warriors and it was an honor to sit amongst them.
El Paso is also home to the National Border Patrol Museum. We decided to tour this comprehensive and educational facility. There were many interesting exhibits. The following photo shows the various types of vehicles the Border Patrol uses.
And the various vehicles the illegal aliens use.
And a rather interesting display of foot wear that illegals use to mask the fact that humans passed over the border…..an example follows.
It is a pair of sandal’s that would be used to represent a sombrero wearing two legged cow walking upright through the night while carrying a large bedroll and jugs of water.
Saturday, February 12, 2011: Underway at 0930 hours under normal steaming on one engine. On a solo transit at a course of 260 degrees, speed 55. After two days on an Army base I had to spout some Navy lingo.
Traveling on TX-54 west to FM (Farm Road)-3255 and on into New Mexico. Yep…..it’s a farm road; there are a number of cattle farms as far as the nose can smell! Miles and miles of well-fed bovines and their of methane gas producing piles of cattle cookies.
We moved on over to NM-404 until we reached I-10 near the town of Las Cruces. Traveling west on the interstate we made quick time of our transit across New Mexico and entered Arizona at 1320. Stopping at the rest area in the Chiricahua Mountains, we took a break for a horizontal rest…..hey; it is called a rest stop after all.
We decided to take Business I-10 through many of the small towns that have developed all along the I-10 corridor. While taking these parallel detours we came to the town of Benson where we decided to pull into a small restaurant for a late lunch. The Apple Farm Restaurant turned out to be a local favorite featuring delicious down home country cooking, and of course, all things apple. Once again we scored by staying out of the fast food chains and opting for the local joints.
Pulled into Tucson and headed straight for the Doobie RV Resort and our all-time favorite camping site. This place is phenomenal…..it is run by a delightful couple with an unbelievable zest for life.
This very exclusive resort only has one full hook-up site and one additional overflow site. It does feature beautiful grounds, a very nice bathroom facility, home cooked Mexican meals, an open bar and a hot tub. The piece de résistance however, is the rooftop deck to enjoy a cocktail as one enjoys the view of the sun rising and setting over the surrounding mountains.
The owners of this paradise in the desert are my Bruzzin, Dew and my Bruzzin-in-law, Bea (get it?…..Doobie?). Since I can’t miss an opportunity to try and explain my somewhat convoluted family tree here goes. My Bruzzin, Dewey, came into my life because my mother married my uncle. Sooooo, Dewey and I were formerly cousins but then became step brothers. And, (are you still with me?) since that union didn’t work out we technically became cousins again. However, that term seemed wrong to describe the relationship we had formed so we just simply call each other “Bruzzins”. And yes…..there is likely a “Brunkle” out there somewhere.
Kit’s Two Cents Worth: Whoa! I still don’t get this after nearly 50 years in this family. But, I guess it works for them. LOL. We had a good transit from Fort Bliss to Camp DewBea – looking forward to some QT (quality time) with family during the next couple of weeks.
Love, Dad/Bill/Poppy and Mom/Kit/Guma