428 Long Miles

 Posted by at 12:30 am  Nick's Blog
Mar 162013

Thanks to everybody who made blog comments, sent e-mails, and posted on Facebook about Terry’s dad. His Valley Fever tests came back negative, and he is having a needle biopsy on the nodule in his lung early Tuesday morning. We plan to be there for that. He’s strong and has been in overall good health, but he is still 83 years old, and we’re very concerned.

Yesterday morning we hit the road early, continuing our fast trip to Arizona. We passed around the south side of the Dallas/Fort Worth metropolitan area, dealing with some road construction and lots of traffic.

Eventually we made it out the other side and into better driving conditions, but the wind kept me on my toes all day long, switching back and forth from a headwind that killed my fuel mileage to a crosswind that slammed us occasionally, making the motorhome want to bounce around. Last year I had a Safe-T-Plus steering control installed on our Winnebago, which is supposed to help us when driving in the wind, when big eighteen wheelers go flying past, and anytime we need to keep the motorhome pointed the right way down the highway. I have to be honest and say that overall, I am not at all impressed with it. I thought I saw some improvement when it was first installed, but since then it hasn’t seem to have made a bit of difference. I still find myself fighting the steering wheel a lot of the time.

We really like it down along the Texas Gulf Coast around Rockport and Port Aransas, but with all due respect to my many friends who call the Lone Star State home, I’ll sure be glad to put Texas behind us. When you’re not playing tourist and just trying to make time, it’s just miles and miles and miles of staring at the east end of westbound semis. As my pal Chris Yust posted on Facebook, “The sun is riz and the sun is set and I ain’t out of Texas yet!”

Somewhere near Abilene we stopped at a Flying J for fuel and had a Bad Nick incident. Just as I was pulling up to the RV fuel island some idiot in a station wagon came through going the wrong direction, and I had to stop or hit him. Then he pulled sideways across the front of our motorhome, made a U-turn and pulled up to the RV pump and then sat there talking on his telephone.

Now, I’ll admit that patience is not one of my virtues, and I don’t suffer fools well even under the best of circumstances, let alone when I’m making a stressful quick trip across Texas. So maybe I was wrong when I got out and knocked on his window and asked what the heck he was doing. He looked at me, then turned his head in the other direction and ignored me while he continued his phone call. So I knocked again, and things went downhill from there. He told me he had as much right to use the RV fuel island as I did, even if he was in a car, and he’d finish his damn phone call when he was good and ready.

That’s when Bad Nick showed up. There was a rather loud discussion of his heritage and of what part of the human anatomy he most closely resembled, but that didn’t seem to bother him as he leisurely pumped his fuel, wiped his windows, cleaned his tail light lenses, and eventually went on his way. I’ll tell you what, some people are living poster children for birth control!

I know some people prefer not to say anything or make any waves when some rude jerk ticks them off like that, but I kind of feel like I’m doing guys like that a favor. Maybe they really are completely oblivious and don’t know that they are complete A-holes unless somebody like me points it out to them. So I’m really doing a public service.

The west Texas oil patch is booming, and if you can find an RV site in the Midland/Odessa area, expect to pay premium prices to be parked between oilfield roughnecks and surrounded by empty beer cans and pit bulls. But I remembered that the Ector County Coliseum in Odessa was listed in our Fairgrounds Camping Guide as having RV sites for $15/night. We called and they said there was nothing going on and to come on in and make ourselves at home. Cool!

We arrived about 6 p.m., with 428 long miles under our belts for the day, only to discover that they have a carnival going on in the front parking lot and a gun show setting up for the weekend. But we did managed to park in a different lot and got plugged into strong 30 amp power. We walked across the street and had dinner at a little place called Keith’s Hamburger Station, which is supposed to have the world greatest steak fingers. I didn’t think they were quite as good as what they serve at Lucky Wishbone in Tucson, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t delicious! This place is a favorite with the locals, who also recommend the chicken strips and chili cheeseburgers. It definitely gets added to our Favorite Restaurants guide!

We finished dinner and got back to the motorhome just as the parking lot filled with hockey fans going to a game at the Coliseum. If this is what the lady in the office calls “nothing going on” I’d hate to see what this place is like when it’s busy. Between hockey fans and a lot of traffic noise, this isn’t a restful place, but I can handle anything for one night.

I hate driving through west Texas, especially the stretch from the I-10/I-20 merge through El Paso. The commercial truck traffic is a bear and El Paso traffic is always hectic. My Microsoft Streets & Trips mapping program wanted me to take an an alternate route, taking State Route 302 out of Odessa to US 285, then State Route 652 to US 180 through Salt Flat. That would take us over the Transmountain Bypass, which we’ve traveled before with no problems, and would bypass most of El Paso. It’s supposed to be fewer miles and just as fast as the interstates. But I wasn’t sure if the road was suitable for a big motorhome.

I asked a local gentleman about the route while we were having dinner and he said it was fine, but I’ve learned from hard experience that what some folks think is fine in a pickup may not be so great in a 40 foot diesel pusher. But just by chance, blog reader Don Adams made a comment yesterday suggesting the same route, saying it was all excellent two lane roads, no traffic, and much more scenic. Don said there is a climb at Guadalupe Pass and another on the Transmountain, but nothing to worry about. So that’s the game plan for today.

Now I’m going to get some sleep. It’s been a long, stressful day.

Thought For The Day – Relax, we’re all crazy. It’s not a competition.

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Nick Russell

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  20 Responses to “428 Long Miles”

  1. Thanks for reporting back on Terry’s dad’s Valley Fever test results. Hope the docs can narrow down the list of possible ailments with low-invasive testing.
    Hope Bad Nick continues to survive his confrontations. Be safe out there.

  2. I admire your cajones Nick. I wish I would call people like that out but I guess I’m afraid of getting shot.

  3. Jim, I’ve been shot by professionals. Amateurs don’t scare me too much. 🙂

  4. The route around El Paso sounds really interesting,(I never tried to bypass “Paso” but sure wouldn’t miss it a bit if I did !) please post a review of it if you go that way.
    And you’re so right about route info from 4 wheelers……
    I’m going to highlight it on my paper atlas anyway.

    I love going south of DFW (I like to go through Corsicanna) and north of Houston (through Conroe).IF I’m not in a hurry, which is usually.

    Tell Terry’s dad , Dr. Popeye prescribes some spinach , is there anything else?
    Oh my Goshk!

  5. We’ve been over Transmountain several times, Nick since being in the Winnebago. No problem and very pretty. In fact, when we lived there in the 70s it was my favorite drive.

  6. Appreciate your Texas comments and alternative routes as that’s where I plan to roam next winter.
    Certainly enjoy your “thought for the day”. They are the frosting on your blogs each morning. Where do you get them? I put together a program book every year and use a ‘thought’ for each month.

  7. Prayers and best wishes for both of you as you continue your trip to AZ and to Terry’s father w/his test. As fulltimers, we are thankful to have the flexibility to pull up the jacks and go quickly where needed. Safe travels.

  8. Well Nick all I can say I believe I ran into that very guy in TX myself. Pulls up to the pump (rv pump), gets out of the car goes inside I assume to pay cash for the fuel and I wait and I wait and I wait. My wife gets anxious because now the words coming out of my mouth aren’t that pleasent and she goes inside to see whats happening. She goes to the attendent and ask if they know whos car that is that is blocking the pump and this guy pipes up and say yea its mine. He’s sitting there at a table eating a hot dog and claims he’s waiting for his wife to finish her shopping. The attendent said to him that your blocking the fuel lane and he said oh I’m going to get that too and remains seated………Just wow!! It went downhill from there, and needless to say we didn’t get fuel there.

  9. Just bypass those RV lanes and go straight to the truck lanes. Much easier to get into, pumps fuel faster, and 99% of the drivers are courteous and quickly move out of the way.

  10. Nick,sad to say we are living in a different world nowadays. Seems like its all about the big “ME” and I will do what Iwant to.

  11. Been over the bypass many times. It is much nicer than doing I
    10 through EL Paso

  12. I’m all for the cojones, too, though my husband holds me back. How are those bozos ever going to get the message if nobody stands up and says something? I’ve got big cojones for a girl, and I’d use them more except my husband doesn’t want me to get us shot. So when I see somebody else standing up to the rotters of the world, I silently cheer. YOU GO NICK!

    PS- My prayers go out to you guys for Terry’s dad.

  13. I am glad that you gently talked to the jerk, we have had this problem a couple of times when an idiot in a car pulls into RV fuel lane, but they immediately got out of the way of our rig,since we were much larger than them. Maybe it was because of our TX plates and they thought we had a gun. I agree even though TX is our winter home now we hate driving across the barren land for miles and miles. Also the oil fields smell so bad up in the northern part. Prayers being said for Terry’s dad and you folks also. Stay safe please

  14. Instead of going to State Route 302 out of Odessa, I think I would continue down I-20 to Pecos and then go N on US285 to State Route 652. Shouldn’t be more than a few miles longer, but you miss the slow down and maybe stop signs in towns along 302.

  15. We also dislike the drive through El Paso and looking forward to hearing your first hand experience about taking the bypass. Now if you could just tell us how avoid the stench from the feed lots located on I-10 near the New Mexico – Texas state line.

  16. I agree on the El Passo bypass. It is agood route. The only time I had a problem with the Transmoutain Pass was when I had to physically run it on foot while attending the Academy on Biggs Field. It is a real butt kicker that way. LOL

  17. West of Odessa is Monahan’s White Sand State Park. We stayed there two nights–it’s amazingly quiet, surrounded by white sand dunes. Your neighbors are oil workers, some while we were there were geologists from Colorado living in pup tents with coolers for refrigerators. There’s a real shortage of housing in those parts, but we got a great site by calling just a few hours ahead. Unforgettable.

  18. Nick
    Couldn’t agree with you more regarding the jerk at the pump. I guess that is why there is a law preventing people from shooting jerks or at the least giving them a few lumps. A few choice words never seems to get the point across to them.

  19. Good for bad Nick. The guy was an ass. The are more of them out here and since they all have the SAME persona, they must be their own breed. Good for Bad Nick.

  20. Well Nick, I am glad I am not the only one who finds those jerks in cars using the RV Lanes. Just catching up on your blog from having been gone for a bit – Probably passed you that morning (3/15), we were going the opposite direction on I20. Had spent the night in Weatherford, TX and took I35W south as a short cut to Corsicana on our way to Galveston. Course it was still dark when we were through that area –
    El Paso, I take Loop 375 off I10 and over the Transmountain Pass – a little out of the way, but miss all that El Paso traffic. Travelling through West Texas can be boring – I travel it a lot as we live on the South Plains. But, no matter how many times I drive it I always see something different .

    Happy Travels and Trails – maybe we’ll meet someday – Hope Terry’s Dad is doing well –

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