I made myself get up early and use the hotel gym. I had paid for it, and I was going to get my money’s worth. Besides, it looked like another long day of driving, so I wanted to get a workout in case I couldn’t later. It took until nearly 9:00, but we finally got on the road.
What can one say about West Texas? We drove through a lot of run-down towns and flat, empty places that stretched for mile after mile without a break. You look at the map and you think, “Surely there’s something out there!” Then thirty miles later with still no relief in sight, you realize all your assumptions were wrong.
Still, the landscape does change as you move across West Texas and into Eastern New Mexico.
Sterling City, Texas, was a run-down dump.
Between Sterling and Lemesa were wind farms galore.
West from Lemesa was full of red fields.
There was so much dust we had to turn out headlights on at one point. We saw a dust devil start up in a field to the west and cross the road right in front of our bumper, swirling off to the east in a hazy fury.
Fairview and Seminole, near the state line, were surprisingly neat, orderly towns. I don’t know if they were just more prosperous than their neighbors, or what, but the contrast to shabby Hobbs, New Mexico was striking.
After Hobbs, we gave up looking for a picnic spot. We had kept our eyes open for a long time, to no avail. But we had plenty of road food packed with us, so we ate well as we drove toward Artesia.
The area between Hobbs and Artesia is mostly oil fields. It reminds me of how West Texas used to be, with pumps bobbing up and down everywhere you look. We were surprised that a lot of the New Mexico pumps were painted to match the desert sand.
In Artesia, we stopped for gas and I took a picture of a local sculpture.
Then we drove past a refinery whose smell brought back not-so-fond memories of Pasadena (Texas), and continued on to Roswell.
Once in Roswell, we decided to go to the UFO Museum. Neither of us is into UFOs, it was one of those “When in Rome…” things. I went into the museum being with an open mind and left convinced that every UFO ever reported was a weather balloon. The museum was THAT hokey. But I’m glad we went. There are certain things it’s good to do when you’re a tourist, just so you can have some idea what all the fuss is all about. But really, if the UFO Museum wants to convince people of the existence of aliens, they’re going to have to do a much better job.
After Roswell, we turned east and went to the Bottomless Lakes. I went there once as a kid, and Dan hadn’t been there ever. So it was a great experience for us both, and we were the only people there, other than the rangers. It was so peaceful!
By now it was 4:00 and I was for staying the night in Roswell, but Dan said he felt fine to push on for Santa Fe, so we headed north. For over an hour we went through even more desolate country than in West Texas until a train:
and a rainstorm:
perked things up around Vaughn.
We got into Santa Fe around 8;30 and Dan was loopy from all the driving. Well, he asked for it. We got checked into a hotel, went to Whole Foods and got some takeout, and settled in for the night. Dan is crashed now, and I don’t blame him.
Our plan for tomorrow is to spend the day knocking around Santa Fe. We’ve had enough driving for a couple of days!