2014 Great Circle Tour travel blog

Today's route

Early in the day the wind and dust started

Another giant arrow honoring Chief Quanah Parker

Oil well pump at County History Museum in Seminole, TX

Oil wells along US 180

ICBM shaped water tank

Welcome to Hobbs, NM

Downtown Hobbs

They sell boots and jeans in Hobbs

The landscape is covered in wells and tanks - This picture doesn't...

Dust storm on the road to Artesia, NM

More dust and wind

Limited visibility on US 82

Low visibility on US 82

One of several bronze statues in Artesia commemorating the history of the...

Pickups rule in this part of NM

Elevation drop from Cloudcroft into the Tularosa Basin was about 4,000 ft

We didn't see any

Nor did we see any elk

View of White Sands National Monument from a scenic overlook

The runaway truck ramp is closed - What do you do if...

Mini VW bus on a pole

Winnie at White Sands Mobile Home and RV Community

As soon as we got on the road this morning from Lamesa, I had to struggle with Winnie being buffeted by strong winds. You could also begin to see a red haze across the road from dust coming off the newly plowed fields. By the time we got to Loco Hills, NM the dust was so thick you could barely see across the road. Within about 10 or 15 miles the dust subsided even though the wind didn’t. I’m sure my forearms and shoulders are much better toned after the wrestling match with the wind.

Yesterday we drove through the Texas oil patch. Today it was the New Mexico oil patch. The area between Hobbs and Artesia is covered with wells, holding tanks and various processing facilities. I’ve driven through some of the newest oil producing areas in North Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, and Texas and haven’t seen anything as concentrated as this part of New Mexico. The main towns along US 180 and US 82, Seminole, TX, Hobbs, NM, and Artesia, NM are hopping with new businesses and new construction. I’ll bet half of the pickup trucks sold in the US are in this part of NM and Texas. I think if somebody that is looking for a job left Seminole and drove toward Artesia, they’d probably have a job before they got out of Seminole there is so much activity. From what I’ve read, oil and gas provide nearly a third of the state's general fund.

As I said yesterday, our ride has been gradually uphill and this continued today. Lamesa is at about 3,100 ft. elevation. The elevation gradually increased to about 3,600 ft when we got to Artesia. West of Artesia we started to climb into the Sacramento Mountains and reached about 8,600 ft at Cloudcroft, NM. Before we even got into the mountains, we began to see signs warning of a 6% grade on the descent into the Tularosa Basin and Alamogordo and warning trucks without engine brakes to choose an alternate route. I was a little concerned that Winnie might be a handful on the way down, but the descent wasn’t as bad as others I’ve driven. We stopped at a scenic overlook about 2/3 of the way down to get a look at White Sands and the Tularosa valley and let the brakes cool down. The rest of the trip down into the valley was uneventful.

Between the wind and the continuous uphill run, Winnie lost about 1.5 mpg in fuel mileage. We arrived safely in Alamogordo and will be staying at the White Sands Mobile Home and RV Community for the next 5 days. I’ll be glad not to be driving for a few days. It looks like the weather will be decent for the next couple of days with highs in the 70’s and cool at night.

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