2019 Summer Big Trip travel blog


Since we arrived so late last night, the morning dog walk is the first real chance I have to survey the neighborhood, and it's pretty frightening. The RV park itself is very small, so LJ and I walk a couple of blocks outside the park, and it's nothing but dilapidated houses and a run down motel. There's even a house that looks like it's about to collapse, with no front door, but there's a beat up old pickup truck parked there and music coming from inside. I'm pretty anxious to move on.

We're ready to roll a little after 8am. The woman I talked to last night said she would be there in the morning to collect payment, but when I walk outside, there's nobody around and there's really no office, so I'm not sure what to do. An older guy (well, a guy probably about my age) comes over to me and asks me if I switched off some electrical breakers last night. Odd question, but when I think about it, when I plugged in our power cord, the breaker box had 4 separate sets of 50 amp breakers, so I may have flipped a couple of them. The guy says when he got back to his RV, the power was off. Turns out that one breaker box at our site controls 4 different sites. I had no idea; all I can do is apologize and tell him the breakers are not marked. He's very nice about it and we chat for a bit. He also mentions that he's been there three days for a family reunion, has yet to see the owner and has no idea how he's supposed to pay. I call the woman when I get back to the RV but it goes to voice mail, so I leave a message and we start hooking up about 8:20. The guy from the RV next to us is still there, and is in an incredibly chatty mood. I try to be polite, but I'd really like to get out of this lousy neighborhood and do the best I can to be civil while getting the tow hooked up. He's very distracting with all his questions about what I'm doing, but finally I think I'm ready and off we go. About a mile later, as we're rolling through town, I suddenly question whether I've turned the ignition in the truck to off after going through the tow procedures. It's a critical step; if the ignition is still on, the truck battery will die in no time. It bugs me enough that I pull over, and sure enough, the key is still in the "ON" position. Cannot let bystanders get in the way.

As we finally exit Seymour, we see a much better part of the town. Some pretty nice houses and businesses. I think we must have been in the slum section. The drive west from Seymour towards Alamogordo is tough. US-82, which was very decent the entire way yesterday, is not fun today. Very bumpy with aging asphalt that clearly should have been replaced years ago. It gets so bad that at one point, I pull over and look at the atlas (of course there's no cell phone signal) to see if there are other route options. But it looks like we're committed to heading to Lubbock and then to Roswell if we want to get to Alamogordo tonight. Making matters worse, there's a stiff breeze out of the southwest, and combined with the steep rolling hills, our gas mileage is in the toilet. We live in 5th gear all morning; 6th gear cannot maintain any speed. Adding insult to injury, the eastbound road looks outstanding. It's in way better condition than the westbound lanes. There's a stretch of at least 20 or 30 miles of brand new road going east. It looks magnificent - nothing like that miserable conditions going westbound. About 50 miles east of Lubbock, the new eastbound road ends and for the rest of the way it looks just like the crappy road we're driving on westbound. I actually feel better, like before I was being cheated but now we're all on the same lousy playing field. Thankfully, it's Sunday morning and there is almost zero traffic the entire time, so we can go at whatever speed we want.

The plan is to stop in Lubbock, gas up and have lunch, but, like yesterday, it just doesn't go as planned. There's no disaster, just no place to pull off. There's a beautiful new highway that takes us quickly and easily through Lubbock, but there's no information about if and when there's a gas station, and since it's not an interstate, our defective "The Next Exit" book is more worthless than ever.

About 20 miles west of Lubbock, I'm pretty desperate for a bathroom break, so we pull off at a Valero gas station in the middle of nowhere that has just enough room to handle us. After filling up, we pull behind the station to have lunch. And we have a great cell phone signal, so I call again back to the RV park we left this morning, and this time the owner answers. She has the sweetest Texas drawl, and tells me that because she was unable to get to the campground last night to help us set up, our stay is "on the house". I insist on paying, but she will not back down. How's that for Texas hospitality?

The topography west of Lubbock is dramatically different. No more rolling hills and canyons with agriculture. It's incredibly flat and there are almost no crops to be seen. Only pastures that must be used for cattle, but there are very few cattle to be seen as well. And US-82 is almost a straight line for well over 100 miles. The west wind has actually increased, so the beast still struggles to get to 65 mph (the speed limit is 75). And there's more traffic; I guess all those morning church goers are out on the road now.

We cross into New Mexico on US-82 at Tatum, and the road, which had been much better west of Lubbock, turns back to awful. And there's brand new asphalt in Tatum, it's just really bumpy. If I were them, I'd want my money back. Poor LJ, he's one unhappy camper. The wind hasn't let up either, so I'm really happy I filled up when we did. With the big mountains looming west of Roswell, we need all the fuel we can handle.

I was a little leery of driving through Roswell. A lot of news reports the last few days are about all the crazies that have assembled there for an assault on Area 51. But the drive through the center of town is uneventful; slow but uneventful. We merge with US-70 for the final push into Alamogordo. We've been on the road over two hours after lunch and would like to take a break, but before we can find a rest area, a massive thunderstorm appears and all bets are off. Actually, the storm hits at the perfect time. We're about to head into the really high mountains and I've been concerned about the RV's AC system (the engine system, not the rooftop). It's had a hard time keeping up with the 99 degree outside temperature, and the steep climb has me worried. But all of a sudden, the rains hit, the temperature goes from 99 to 65 in 30 seconds, and it's all good. I put the emergency flashers on and we press forward at about 40 mph until the worst of it is over. The storm could not have arrived at a better time.

The rest of the day's drive to the KOA in Alamogordo goes without a hitch. We settle in, pop open a bottle of our favorite Malbec and toast the last night (hopefully) on the road. A steak dinner follows - what can I say? The final push tomorrow is less than 400 miles - we've done over that every day since we left Maryland. Can't wait to wrap this up.



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