When folks asked us about our intended route home, none who'd traveled it had anything good to say about the stretch of I-10 that runs the width of Texas. Even Texas, known for the pride they have in their state, told us variations that summed up to this: "That is the longest, most boring stretch of nothing you'll ever drive."
I can see why folks who have never stopped or camped in the desert might say that. It is a long stretch and there aren't a lot of cities or shopping centers along the way. In fact, we swung in to Bakersfield for gas only to find that the "city" is defined by precisely one two-pump gas station. There's not a restaurant or home or store in sight. At its peak in the early 1930s, there were 1,000 souls living in this unincorporated community (aka dispersed community), eking out an existence in the oil fields. By 2000, there were 30 living in the area, according to U.S. Census data.
So we opted to cruise further west in search of lunch. (Our ice chest is cleaned out - no more bread in the pantry - forgot the peanut butter in Louisiana.) We used our new toy...er...tool (yay smartphone!) to look up some local eateries in Fort Stockton which, on our paper map, looked like a significantly sized town. Our first three stops (two local BBQ spots and a local burrito spot) were all closed weekends, which led V to nickname this town a "Monday through Friday City." At a stoplight in town, I asked the driver of the vehicle next to us for a good lunch stop and we found our way to a BBQ spot really not worth spotlighting here.
Bellies full and gas tank topped off we headed back out into the desert.
I was really excited to see mountains again - rock mountains; piles of boulders! As we continued west, they grew more plentiful and prominent. Some just see these as obstacles in road building. I saw them as secrets to unfold. Those canyons and peaks hold fantastic natural secrets for anyone willing to slow down and take the time to see them. If I've learned nothing from traveling the Mojave Desert with my parents, I've learned THAT lesson.
But we didn't slow down any more than the strong headwinds required and we made it to El Paso before sunset.
Staying with friends (the neighbors who abandoned us - wait...these aren't the ONLY good neighbors who have moved on. Is it me?) for a couple of days of play and catching up before the long blast for home.
I suspect there will be a bit of a break in the blog upon our return home. We have a lot of cleanup to do once we get back home, plus catching up with Mr. B and friends and family back home. We're all very excited to see you all again!
Thanks for following our adventure. If you have questions, drop me a line. If you have comments, leave 'em at the end of the posts or drop me a line. With the new smartphone, I may even be able to answer e-mails in a timely manner!