I left Las Cruces at the crack of dawn. Well, it was a bit past that and a bit chillier than I thought it would. It's problem living in one area and going to another, I expected warmer mornings.
There's an old David Allan Coe song with the line, "It's cold in the desert, I'm chilled to the bone". I thought it was chilly at the motel but it was even colder riding Hwy 20 south towards El Paso.
It got mentioned earlier about Hwy 50 through Nevada as being the loneliest road in America. I stacked New Mexico's Hwy 9 up against it. If that's true about those highway's, then Hwy 20 between Las Cruces and El Paso has to be the most aromatic highway in America. For a while, I was beginning to think that every cow in America lived near that stretch of road. It was funny, you couldn't really see them from the road but you knew they were there.....in spades! I must have been down wind. I grew up back east, in dairy country of the garden state, so the south end of a north bound cow isn't all that offensive. Those dairy farms might have add 200 cows, not the thousands that these places were holding.
In El Paso, I wanted to take a few pictures but always managed to be way past the picture spot before I found a spot to pull over. For a while, I was riding right along the infamous border fence. Since the road was an old city street, I always managed to be passed the picture spot I liked before there was anyplace to pull over. I figured that, since I'll be following the river and the border for most of the next two days, I'll have plenty of opportunities to take pictures of the border. I was still riding on highway 20 as I rode into and through El Paso. Somewhere in there it turned into Paisano Ave, then Almeda Ave, then I think something else.
In the 6300 block of Almeda Ave, just in case you find yourself in El Paso with nothing to do, there's a two story building with name on the top that says, "Naked Harem". When I went past it, it was 9 o'clock in the morning and it appeared to be closed or, right now, I'd be giving you a much more detailed report.
As you wind your way south out of El Paso, you pass every rundown, used up adobe building you can imagine, housing more odd, eclectic businesses. All of them are painted in very bright cloors, yellow being the most domanint. Shortly, the buildings gave way to farm fields but only on one side of the road. The farm fields were on my right while the buildings, of all shapes and sizes, continued on my left. Then I would ride through a small area that I'm guessing passed for a town. Most of them could have fit inside the average Walmart Super Center. Tornillo, Alamo Alto, Acala and more whose names I can't remember, on into Fort Hancock. Don't think that Fort Hancock is the next big town. Well, I guess it is. It might take 2 Walmart Super Centers to cover the whole place.
Yeah, right! Who are they kidding.
Since there will be so much interstate riding later on in the trip, I'm trying to stay on the back roads as much as possible. Besides, there's more see and usually better roads to ride. In Fort Hancock I had to get on I-10 for the 68 mile ride to Van Horn, Tx. I'm guessing that when they built the interstate, they built it right over the existing road because I don't think there are any paved back roads between Fort Hancock or Van Horn. At least my map didn't show one. Of course, that's assuming that the road they built over was paved in the first place. It might have just been a cattle path, formerly used by all the relatives of the cows I passed for the last two days.
Before arriving in Van Horn, you pass the thriving metropolis of Sierra Blanca, Texas. Other than being another town that the interstate is in the process of killing, Sierra Blanca is actually in the history books as the meeting point of the second TransContinental Railroad. The first TransContinental Railroad was completed at a place called Promentary Point in Utah, the second was here in Sierra Blanca.
This picture pretty much sums up the long term prospects of Sierra Blanca, Texas
Van Horn, Texas.....I've camped here in Van Horn on more than a few ocassions but the campground is closed now, as is the Dairy Queen and the Pizza Hut. Van Horn has a wide main drag and you can tell that this place was once a thriving little west Texas town....before said interstate!
I'm guessing that there were more businesses here, when the highway went through, that has allowed it to hang on. More so than Sierra Blanca.
Van Horn is where I pick up highway 90 for the next 600 miles as I head south to the valley, that part of Texas at the very bottom. First stop, Marfa. Marfa is the art center of west Texas. Why, you ask? Because a New York artist by the name Donald Judd discovered, way back when, that he could buy up a whole bunch of the area around Marfa real cheap.
So, Donald Judd moved to Marfa. I've been to Marfa several times but I always manage to get here at the beginning of the week and all of the art exhibits are only open later in the week. I guess that if I want to see all the art stuff, I'll have to make a special trip.
Somewhere between Van Horn and Marfa, you come across this.....
Note the location...
I'm guessing that this is somebodies idea of funny. But, ladies, there are some very nice looking Prada purses and high heels in there. There's also a camera pointed at the front door, so I guess my ugly mug is stored on somebody's computer right now.
From Marfa, it's only a 30, or so, mile ride to Alpine, Texas, a much bigger, more prosperous West Texas town, probably because it's the home of Sul Ross State University. I think Sul Ross was a former governor of Texas, but I could be mistaken.
Alpine is where I am right now. As soon as I finish this ride report and fill up on the free breakfast here at the Highland Inn, change the oil in the scooter, I'll be on to Eagle Pass, on my quest to find America.....by Helix.