States visited: New Mexico, 1/2 of Texas
Miles driven: 659
The day started off rocky. I woke up at 4:15 am, hearing weird scratching noises across the hotel room. As regular readers of Thought of the Day Blog will know, I am currently going through a paranoid phase about mice and other critters invading my space. (I later decided it was actually the ice in my cooler shifting around.)
I got up to investigate. What I found instead was my dog Akela staring at the door. Staring. Like her eyeballs emitted laser beams. This is what she does when she needs to go outside. (She’s a little reluctant to go to the bathroom in new places. It’s like she checks it out on the first visit, and then decides to “go” on the second or third visit.) So despite my best efforts at encouraging her, she was, um… off schedule. After a 15 minute lap of the property, along the length of the “Animal Rest Room” (long stretches of planter boxes filled with sand), she made several pit stops. Poor dog. (Poor human, too. It was 25 degrees.)
After that, I tried to go back to sleep but wasn’t too successful. At 6, I gave up and got up. I got ready and did a few sun salutations and yoga stretches, which felt pretty good. I tried to load up the car, but my trunk wouldn’t open. It has a touch pad to open it, but it just wasn’t working at all. I had to fold down the backseat and shove my stuff in that way instead. Maybe it was too cold for the touch pad? (Overnight, my windshield wiper fluid, my dog’s water bowl, and my water bottle inside the car had frozen.)
However, the day vastly improved from there. (Also, my trunk started opening and closing again later when it warmed up. Whew.)
We hadn’t driven very far when we came across an interesting town:
Of course, we had to take a picture.
Continuing on into Las Cruces, we hit up a truck stop for some gas and a human pee break. I stopped by the restaurant attached to the truck stop and asked for a cup of tea to go, and the waitress wouldn’t let me pay for it. She loaded me up with honey, lemons, 3 tea bags, the works! Isn’t that nice? I wished her a merry Christmas and then left her a nice tip.
Soon, we reached Texas. It was probably 9 or 10 am.
If you know your U.S. geography, you might remember El Paso is on the border with Mexico.
After El Paso, it was smooth sailing. 80 mph? Ok!
Although there was some momentary confusion. Did we go the wrong way?
See, my co-pilot is a terrible navigator. She never tells me where to turn.
But it was ok. I figured it out.
At some point, approximately near the middle of nowhere, we came across a border patrol stop. Border patrol police were funneling all the cars and trucks through a truck weigh station. It was very intimidating. I’ve never had so many cameras pointed at me. A gruff-looking cop behind opaque wraparound sunglasses asked where I was going and what I was doing.
Me: Driving to Florida to visit my family.
Cop: Just a visit?
Me: Yes, I grew up there. My parents still live there, but I live in California.
Cop: Are you a U.S. citizen?
Me: Yes, sir. (I added a “sir” for good measure here.)
Cop: Is anyone with you?
Me: Just my dog.
The cop peers in the back seat to glare at Akela before he waves us though.
I was very polite and friendly. He was very grouchy and official. It was one of those moments where I was glad to be a light-skinned American. I doubt he would have waved me through so easily otherwise. Sad. But probably true.
A couple hours later, at another stop for gas, I bought a giant bottle of water. Like, over a liter of water. I was reeeeaaally thirsty. A few miles later, I tried to open it using only one hand (the other hand was on the steering wheel, obviously). Big mistake. A huge flood of water exploded all over my lap. And then thanks to gravity, it soaked down through the back of my pants and into my car seat. It looked like I peed my pants. Ugh. So I spent the next 100 miles or so doing periodic wall sits against my seat back so that my butt was elevated in hopes that everything would dry. So embarrassing. But on the plus side I got a decent leg work out. And my butt wasn’t asleep anymore.
At some point during my damp lap ordeal, the topography changed from scraggly desert plants to more trees and grasses.
We continued the rest of the day through Texas. The sun set. It was pretty.
Can I just say to the state of Texas that it is MEAN how you have some “Rest Stops” along I-10 with tables and bathrooms and some “Picnic Areas” with JUST tables and no facilities. At one point, I had been driving and driving and driving with no sign of civilization or a rest stop, and I had to pee SO BAD. Finally, I spied a sign in the distance that made me shout with relief. But… as I got closer, I realized the sign said “Picnic Area” not “Rest Stop.” NOOOO!! I was about ready to explode. Finally, I spied a sketchy gas station in Kerrville and I bolted to the bathroom. There were signs all over that restrooms were for paying customers only, and anyone not complying would be alternately shot or tarred and feathered. (The consequences depended on which sign you read.) Seriously. Cah-razy. So just in case I bought some beef jerky and got back on the highway without dawdling. Then, 2 miles outside of Kerrville, was the sign, “Rest Stop.” That’s just evil.
We spent all day driving through Texas, and we still have almost half the state left to go tomorrow. But the best part about tomorrow is the destination: my sister’s house! Yaaaayyy!!! New Orleans, here we come!