Sunday, June 25, 2017

Long Day's Desert Journey Sees Green Morning In Texas

Yesterday, as in Saturday morning, I left the Phoenix suburb of  Sun Lakes at some point in time before 8, after giving my dear ol' mom, also known as Miss Daisy, a couple goodbye hugs.

Most of the route back to my Texas home location I had driven before. But, not since the first year of this century. So, nothing seemed all that familiar.

I did remember the drive across southern Arizona and New Mexico to be a lot of wide open nothing. I did not remember the constant warnings about dust storm dangers.

 I also did not remember the scenic wonders of the Cochise Stronghold Dragoon Mountain zone of Arizona. By mid afternoon I was back in Texas, soon after seeing the giant roadrunner you see above at a New Mexico rest area and scenic overlook overlooking Las Cruces and the mountains which hover above that town.

El Paso appears to be a boomtown. In addition to a lot of buildings under construction there is a massive elevated freeway being built between the existing freeway and Mexico.  Passing through I could not figure out the reason for this second freeway.

I did make note of the fact that El  Paso follows the lead of cities to the west and makes El Paso's freeways look distinctive with color schemes and landscaping.

Maybe the towns of the D/FW zone could send a task force to El Paso to see how this is done, what with El Paso being much closer than Phoenix, or towns on the west coast which also have figured out how to make their highways look good, rather than littered, un-landscaped, un-attractive borderline eyesores.

Regarding eyesores, I am thinking of Fort Worth's freeway exits to the town's only real tourist attraction, the Fort Worth Stockyards. Maybe when the new version of I-35W is completed Fort Worth will finally get around to landscaping and de-littering the freeway exits to the Stockyards.

The last time I had passed past the I-10 border checkpoint which one comes to east of El Paso it was prior to 9/11. At that point in time a light thing, with mirror, was stuck under my van. The interior of the van was checked. This time, in this era when America is being flooded with so many Mexicans that insane people want to build a border wall, at the checkpoint a guy in a border patrol uniform, who spoke with a Spanish accent, asked if I was a US citizen. Si, said I, after which he waved me on.

Previous trips east on I-10 have had an overnight stay in Van Horn. On this trip it seemed too early to stop for the night in Van Horn.

So, I continued on.

Soon I found myself surprised to see how much West Texas has changed. Every little town along  the way east, be it Pecos, Monahans, Sweetwater, or other towns I can not remember, have had multi-story motels added to their landscape, along with the usual fast food suspects.

All these motels were full. I think due to it being Saturday night, and these motels having been built to help with the housing shortage caused by the West Texas oil boom. Eventually I resigned myself to continuing on to Abilene. Around eleven o'clock I had been on the road for well over 12  hours. I was not tired. But I decided to take a break in a rest area west of Abilene. I rested til about 3 in the morning, and then continued east in the darkness. I rather liked driving the empty freeway in the dark.

After about an hour I reached the outskirts of Abilene, got gas, and soon came to the exit to Highway 277, my route north to Wichita Falls. When I looked at 277 on a map I saw the road went through a lot of small towns. I was prepared for 277 to be a two lane highway on which I would be driving slow, not the 80 MPH speed limit on I-10 and 20.

Well, 277 turned out to be a four lane divided highway in excellent shape. With a speed limit of 75, except when one passed through a couple towns. I made such  good time I was back in Wichita Falls before 8 this morning, 22 hours after I left Sun Lakes, taking into account the time zone change.

As I approached Seymour, about 50 miles from Wichita Falls, the sun finally popped up. I tried to get a good picture of this. Below is the best I could do.

The biggest surprise came when full illumination arrived. I had been living in a desert for over two weeks. I had just spent a day driving through desert and desolate brown land. But, this morning, when the sun came up, I saw a lush landscape of green, beautiful green. I should have thought to take a picture of this.

So, I am happy to be back in Texas. But, I think I may be returning to Arizona some day soon....

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