August 5, 2007

Greetings from El Paso, Texas!

460 miles after leaving Phoenix around 11 AM yesterday, I have claimed my spot at the Super 8 Motel here on N. Mesa Avenue. It’s a warm and breezy night, as you might expect here in west Texas at the beginning of August, and it feels good to put behind me the number of miles I did today, as this will be the longest travel day of my week.

It was an interesting and humbling day on the road. I traveled I-10 south from Phoenix to Tucson, and saw my first major accident just before reaching Tucson: a minivan way, WAY off the side of the road in the trees turned up on its roof. There was an ambulance on-scene, and from the looks of it, whoever was in that vehicle could not have been in good shape.

The rain started just as I got past Tucson, and it was amazing to see the change of topography that took place, almost immediately – the desert and the hills all green, full of life and growth from the recent monsoons – it was a beautiful sight to behold. As you go further south and off the main highway, it was so green, flat, and full of trees, it reminded me not of Arizona, but of western Kentucky. A delight.

My first spur-of-the-moment turn took place just below Tucson, where I saw a sign to Benson and Tombstone, home of the famous Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. I was about half-way between Benson and Tombstone when I saw a sign for Holy Trinity Monastery, and I couldn’t resist pulling in. I’m glad I did, because I met Ann, the bookstore clerk, and Keith a fellow who was on his way to Arkansas after a couple of months of drifting around western Arizona. The chapel at Holy Trinity was dark and full of dark wood accents with incense burning and candles dispersed around the chapel. It was a great way to say some prayers for safety on my road trip and enjoy the gardens in all their fullness as a soft rain fell.

Ann told me that Tombstone wasn’t worth visiting – it was just a modern little out of the way town masquerading as a tourist trap. I believed her, so I turned around and went back through Benson – a tired old railroad/cow town with little to distinguish it – and got back on the interstate and headed towards New Mexico. It was shortly thereafter that I saw a second accident on the median, and this was a real bad one involving two cars. There was tarp draped over part of the wreckage and cops spurring everyone past, which spelled very bad news indeed, and I said a prayer for all who were involved.

As I got into New Mexico, the skies began to clear. There’s really nothing to speak of when you travel the I-10 through southern New Mexico – lots of open space, no towns to speak of, just valleys and a steady stream of trains pulling a hundred cars on both sides of the interstate. It was postcard beautiful – everything you think of when they talk of the wide open spaces out west. As soon as you get east of Las Cruces (just northwest of El Paso), however, you’re suddenly in cattle country and there were lots and lots – thousands, I think, of head of cattle in large open pens for about a mile. No need to tell you what that means as far as what kind of business is nearby…

As the sun was setting, I pulled into El Paso, and here I am. I’ve kind of set up my loose itinerary to be Monday night in San Antonio, Tuesday night in Austin, Wednesday night in New Orleans, then up to northwest Mississippi to stay with my friend Pat for two nights and blues-bar hopping in Memphis. Which leaves tomorrow to get off this damned interstate and go exploring the back roads of south or west Texas. Which direction? We’ll just have to see which way the wind sets may car to point at.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:19 | Comments Off on East To Texas
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