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February 13, 2006

Texas West

The road to Laredo runs northwest beside the Rio Grande but again we could not see it most of the time because of the berm.  The land is flat and along the valley there is irrigation that allows for farming and cultivation.   The weather since we got to the valley has been very warm during the day – from 75 to 85 F – but it does cool down nicely during the night.  One night there was a little rain, but in general it is dry with the sun every day.  Great for us but not so great for the farmers in the valley.

We were going only 140 miles and planned to stop in Laredo for one night as we were on our way to – we weren't really sure – either Carlsbad Caverns in southeastern New Mexico or Big Bend National Park in southwest Texas.

Laredo is a major border town and that is about the best thing that can be said about it.  Actually, the best thing was the county park that we stayed in right beside a man-made lake.  We drove downtown that afternoon to the historic district and walked around, but even the historic district has little to impress.  It’s an old town and is struggling.  'Nuf said.

So, Thursday morning, Feb. 2, we packed up to leave.  Problem.  When I went to close the slide on the passenger side of the trailer, it wouldn’t.  The rear end moved the front didn’t.  After numerous calls to our dealer in London and also the Hitchhiker factory in Kansas, it was determined that a pin had sheared.  Fortunately, we have a hydraulic jack with us and with much fiddling and about an inch or two at a time, we were able to get it closed.  Laredo had no RV dealer and no DSC_0215_editedRV repair service to help us.  Our dealer in London made arrangements for us to go to a dealer in El Paso on the following Tuesday.  We could have gone earlier but decided to go to Carlsbad on the way.  This all took us about 4 hours so we stayed another night in Laredo.

Did I say the land was flat.   The land is flat.   It’s still sunny and warm as we headed northwest stopping one night in Del Rio – a lovely border town surrounded by cultivated land as there are springs in the area for irrigation.  We toured the Val Verde Winery, the oldest winery in Texas and happened to be in town for the “First Friday Art Walk”.   The art galleries open their doors in the evening and have wine & refreshments and the local artists are also in attendance.


The next day, we visited Lantry, just off the main highway, to see where Judge Roy Bean, the frontier judge, dispensed beer and “the law west of the Pecos” from a saloon.  His original saloon is now maintained by the National Park Service.  Apparently he always sentenced the guilty party to a fine and kept the fine for his fees.

There is also a wonderful botanical garden with native desert plants.

We arrived at Carlsbad Caverns in south eastern New Mexico early on Sunday Feb 5th. I’m going to send a separate journal with pictures of the Caverns.  They are wonderful.

DSC_0351On Monday we headed southwest toward El Paso.  We stopped and hiked a 5 mile trail into McKittrick Canyon which is in the Guadalupe Mountains..  This canyon has its own ecological system due to its changing elevation, water supply and protection within the mountains.  We saw oak, maple, pine, juniper and chokeberry at the higher elevations and all the regular desert plants such as prickly pear, agave, cholla at the lower elevations.  It really was an oasis of green.

We arrived in El Paso late in the afternoon just as the sun was going down and ended up driving through downtown directly into the sun.  Sure were glad to get to the campground north of the city.  It was right beside American RV where we had the appointment for the next morning at 8:30.

We were treated very promptly and the technician was excellent.  They had a little trouble getting a pin to hold but everything seems to work just fine now.  The dealership provides free coffee, hot chocolate and danish in the morning and since we were there at lunch time, we also received a  free lunch.

Thursday, Feb 8th we headed into New Mexico.  We are getting further north now and the nights are starting to get very cold.  It was just a little over 0 C in El Paso so it’s nice to have a good furnace.

We’ll be in touch in a bit.

Bernie & Ross

Posted by Ross at February 13, 2006 06:52 PM