As I wrote in yesterday’s blog, regular reader Don Adams had suggested an alternate route to avoid all of the traffic in El Paso, taking State Route 302 out of Odessa to US 285, then State Route 652 to US 180 through Salt Flat to the Loop 375 on the eastern edge of El Paso. This would take us over the Transmountain Bypass, and would bypass most of the city.
Before we set out yesterday morning, two of our fulltime RVing pals, Dennis Hill and Sharon DelRosario, e-mailed suggesting a slight route change, saying that instead of taking the steep climb up the Transmountain Bypass and back down again, to instead continue on Loop 375 north to FM 3255 into New Mexico, where it would become State Route 213, and follow that a short distance to State Route 404, then take it 7 miles west to Interstate 10, just above Anthony on the state line. We did just that and loved it! I’ll never mess with El Paso traffic again.
Most of the route from Odessa to Texas State Route 652 was through high desert country, with little traffic. We passed through a couple of tiny towns where we had to slow down to 40 miles per hour, but the rest of the way we made good time. The worst part of this leg on the trip was the smell of the oilfields we passed through.
The 42 miles of State Route 652 between US 285 on the east and US 180 on the west was a long, gentle climb with a couple of easy downgrades, and again, very little traffic.
U.S. 180 skirts the edge of Guadalupe Mountains National Park, and we made a quick stop at the Visitor Center so I could get my National Parks Passport book stamped.
And Miss Terry was busy with her camera. I love this shot of the tree.
And this is El Capitan, the eighth-highest peak in Texas, which was used as a signal peak for hundreds of years by the local Native Americans and travelers.
Leaving the Visitor Center, we soon found ourselves at the summit of Guadalupe Pass, at 5,695 feet elevation. From there we started a 7% downhill run for 2½ miles before the road leveled out and then had a couple of lesser downgrades. But it was four lane highway with lots of pullouts to take advantage of the dramatic views, and our exhaust brake did a fine job of keeping us at a comfortable speed. Really, it was nothing to worry about. If I were going in the other direction I’d be more concerned about the steep uphill climb.
Eventually we found ourselves down in relatively flat country again and passing the massive salt flats that at one time were so important that battles were fought over control of these important salt deposits. From there it was 87 miles west to the Loop 375 on the edge of El Paso.
There was about 5 miles where the limited access highway ended and we had to take the frontage road and stop for some traffic lights on the north end, and then we were out in the country again. Before long we were in New Mexico and on Interstate 10, where a strong crosswind immediately started giving me fits.
Our goal for the day was Coachlight RV Park, a Passport America affiliate campground in Las Cruces, where our friends Greg and Jan White had reserved a site for us next to them. But about six miles from our exit the highway suddenly narrowed down from three lanes to one with little advance warning and created a massive bottleneck. We spent longer sitting still and creeping long there than we did in the entire trip from when we got onto the Loop 375 back in El Paso until we got to the interstate.
But eventually we did get to our destination, where Greg and Jan greeted us with hugs and Jan gave me a batch of her freshly baked delicious homemade wedding cookies, which has become a tradition with us. I was sure happy to see them! And Greg and Jan too!
We got parked, then visited for a while before our stomachs told us it was time for dinner. Greg suggested a Mexican restaurant they like called ChaChi’s and he headed out. Dinner was good and getting to be with our dear friends again was even better.
Back at the RV park we visited for another couple of hours, then said goodnight. High winds are predicted for this afternoon, so we plan to get an early start today and try to get past before they hit. We covered 310 miles yesterday and it’s another 330 miles to our destination in Apache Junction. Hopefully we’ll be there sometime this afternoon. Terry is anxious to see her parents and to see for herself how her dad is doing.
Thought For The Day – A quiet man is a thinking man. A quiet woman is usually mad.