<< Day 16: Roswell to Carlsbad | Day 18: San Antonio >>
Carlsbad to San Antonio, Texas
We were on the road before 7:00 this morning. Our destination was San Antonio, Texas, which was 450 miles away. This was our longest driving day yet, and Ben and I were hoping to get a couple of hours behind us before the children woke up. (We configured their sleeping arrangements last night so that we could fasten their seat buckles while they were still slumbering.)
One of the first towns on the map after we left Carlsbad was the town of “Loving.”
Oh, how sweet, I thought—perhaps there is a nice story to go along with the name. As we entered the town, there was a large historical marker by the side of the road. Instead of goodwill and coziness, however, the plaque honored a man named Oliver Loving who was seriously wounded in July 1867 while fighting with the Comanches. He died from his wounds two months later at Fort Sumner in New Mexico. (There was no explanation regarding why Loving was fighting the Comanches. I later learned that Loving was a cattleman; in 1866, he helped create the Goodnight-Loving trail on which cowboys would take their cattle herds on a 4-month drive from Texas through New Mexico and up to the cattle markets in Denver, Colorado.)
To further diminish any thoughts of how warm and welcoming this “loving” town might be, there was a police car hiding behind the historical marker, along with an officer ready to catch some speeders with his radar gun. I did give him a friendly wave, however, and he waved back.
Some homes in Loving:
On the outskirts of town:
Outside of Loving, we passed a field with four buffalo grazing among the scrub brushes. Wow! I was so mesmerized that I forgot to reach for the camera until we were already past them.
We saw a few jackrabbits on the side of the road, hopping away as we approached; their brown/gray fur blended perfectly with the dirt and rocks.
The terrain was flat, with scrub brushes and an occasional oil pump:
We crossed the state-line into Texas! Unfortunately, my photo of the welcome sign is very blurry. However, the text read: “Welcome to Texas! Drive friendly—the Texas way!”
Oil pumps were scattered across the landscape:
Whoever puts up the Historical Markers for Texas is doing a great job! I was so ecstatic! They must have traveled themselves (perhaps through New Mexico). The advance notice signs in Texas actually specified both the distance to the marker and on which the side of the road the marker is located—for example, “Historical Marker 1 mile on left”. Hurrah! Then, at the marker itself, there was a street sign with an arrow pointing to the actual marker. Thank you!
The historical markers in Texas seemed to be used for target practice, and many had bullet holes in them (even those made of cement).
The town of Orla had a post office and a couple of buildings to evidence that someone still lived there, but the rest of the buildings looked as if they had been abandoned long ago.
We drove along, through the northern area of the Chihuahan Desert—miles and miles of “sameness.” We could say, “There was a whole lotta’ nada.” (“Nada” means “nothing” in Spanish.) However, I’m sure that Matthew, our guide in Arches National Park in Moab, would be able to point out at least 20 different plants and other fascinating things in the surrounding desert.
Here, we could see what looked like a house, or other type of building, in the far distance.
It is amazing how excited we would get over spotting a tiny building.
Imagine our enthusiasm over this oil drilling rig!
I had never seen one before, and was truly fascinated with how the drilling device is elongated in sections to allow the drill to go deeper and deeper into the earth.
In the town of Pecos, people were lining their chairs up by the side of the road, as if they were expecting a parade.
We later learned that we were half an hour too early to catch the 127th “West of the Pecos” Rodeo parade, where horse riders, rodeo participants, and other local organizations would assemble and march through town to show off their best.
The old train station in Pecos:
Other buildings in Pecos:
We went from a 2-lane road to Interstate 10, where the speed limit was 80(!).
We drove through the desert, with no oil pumps during the initial section; however, wind turbines lined the surrounding mesas.
The rock cuts revealed ribbons of cream, in contrast with the reds of Utah and northern New Mexico.
The road then rolled gently through low hills covered in an abundance of shrubs and small trees.
Amidst the bright green plants by the roadside bloomed some delicate pink flowers.
Two clouds looked like migrating birds to me. (Ben, however, saw a drumstick and a guy doing the backstroke.)
The landscape contained a wide array of green hues.
This water well pump made a pretty pattern against the blue sky--like a flower that had sprung up.
We traveled for miles and miles, listening to our Sirius satellite radio tunes. The bushy shrubs that had surrounded us gradually changed to small trees.
We stopped for a lunch break in the small town of Sonora. We drove down some small streets looking for a playground, and we discovered the old historic section.
Genevieve and I went exploring. The Sutton County Jail was built in 1891, and contained the residence of the jailer. The first prisoner was a gambler and gunman, John Denson, who was the cousin of the outlaw John Wesley Hardin. I was thinking that the small town must have had a serious crime issue if they built such a large and solid jail.
Behind the jail was this incredibly big and beautiful tree, which Genevieve and I both thought would be perfect for a magnificent tree house.
There were three gravemarkers in front of the old county courthouse, which was also built in 1891.
The gravestones were placed to honor (1) the soldiers who died in the Korean and Vietnam Wars, (2) the soldiers who died in the Civil War fighting for the Confederacy after a 3-1 vote for succession, and (3) the soldiers who died in World Wars I and II.
In front of the courthouse was a row of commemorative plaques identifying the people who helped to establish Sonora. Genevieve and I spent some time reading the detailed information on each plaque. The stories were interesting. Here are a few:
We continued searching for a playground in Sonora. Here are a few houses we passed:
We discovered a small playground in front of Sonora Elementary school:
There was a larger playground in back:
We added the state of Texas to our map on the side of the RV.
After lunch, we continued on our journey, driving through miles of short green trees.
The short trees changed into tall dark trees, with occasional goats grazing in nearby fields.
About 65 miles from San Antonio, Ben and I caught the blur of a small deer running across the highway from the left side—directly in line with our route. Ben did some quick maneuvering to avoid hitting the deer head-on with the front of the RV. The deer slammed into our left side. We heard the thud, and Ben caught a glimpse of the deer struggling to its feet. Then Ben noticed that the impact had caused the door to one of our side storage compartments to fly open. We pulled over to inspect the damage.
The deer had bent the edge of the compartment door (and had left behind some blood and fur). We had stopped in an area where we couldn’t see back down the highway, and I was hoping that the deer had managed to get away without being struck by another vehicle. “Deer crossing” signs are common on so many of the roads that we drive on a daily basis (both on our current journey and back in California); we had never been struck by a deer before, and we realized that the consequences (to both us and the deer) could have been much more serious. Our thoughts were very sobering, and we were grateful that both the deer (we hope) and our RV had not suffered greater damage. After a bit of tweaking and bending, the compartment door was straight enough to stay closed, and we continued on our way.
Thirty miles from San Antonio, we encountered traffic, continuous billboards, strip malls, and new housing developments. We had become accustomed to fairly quiet 2-lane roads over the past couple of weeks, so the traffic and maze of overhead freeway ramps were a bit jarring. However, we quickly adjusted.
Downtown San Antonio from a distance:
A bit closer:
Our RV park tonight had an old-fashioned playground that Genevieve and Sebastian found to be very entertaining!
We enjoyed a quiet evening tonight, looking forward to exploring San Antonio tomorrow.
<< Day 16: Roswell to Carlsbad | Day 18: San Antonio >>
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