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  • Writer's pictureRuth Mcbride

That sure is different!

Last night after our dinner in Newman - which consisted of homemade beef soup that I had made on Vancouver Island and frozen, and a nice bag of Zatar salad from Trader Joes, which had dates in it, I just wanted to chill out. I woke up with a cold yesterday morning, but its only in one nostril which is strange. ITS NOT COVID! I even took a test, just to be sure! Taking Advil Cold and Sinus really knocks me out, so all I wanted to do was read my Kindle. I’m reading my 50th book now, which is a record for me. The most I think I read before in a year was 38 books, which was last year of course, after I stopped working in November and was on vacation for the balance of the year.

My Kindle was fully charged, and when I turned it on, all I got was this:

Grr@#$$#%%^&&!! So I charged the darn thing again and got it to turn on, so I could finally go read in bed. After about 10 minutes of reading, with the Kindle showing 95% charged the same screen with the battery and exclamation mark came back on again. By this point I’m pretty frustrated with the Kindle, so I decided to go online and try chatting with a support person. The support person wanted me to do a complete re-boot of the Kindle, to get it back to factory settings, which I did. Then the Kindle worked again, for about another 10 minutes, before it gave me the - you guessed it - the battery with the exclamation mark on it. I looked at some online forums which discussed this issue and it was clear that other people have had the same problem with their Kindle. I got back online to chat with another support person, only to be told that my Kindle was out of warranty as of January 2021, and there was nothing they could do to fix this problem for me. VERY FRUSTRATING! The Kindle I have is a ’paperwhite’ which allows me to read in the sun with no glare, its also waterproof too in case I want to read in the pool and it accidentally drops in, or gets wet. The support agent said they could give me a discount off a new Kindle, and someone would call me right away. Sure enough, my cell phone started to ring and it was Amazon calling about my Kindle. After going back and forth over emails with offers and discounts, I ended up having to buy the new Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition, that has all of the features of my existing - no longer being sold in the USA Kindle, but it also has wireless charging. I guess I treated myself to an early Christmas present, and since I borrow books out of the library, instead of downloading and buying books off Amazon, I think I’m still ahead, on the cost of ownership for the Kindle. Its kind of frustrating though that something that was bought in January 2020 is already obsolete. I guess that’s what ’built in obsolescence‘ is all about! And after all that, I never got to read my book last night, but I will have a new Kindle waiting for me in Florida when we get there next week!

We left Las Cruces, New Mexico at 9:30am this morning.

Leaving the KOA Journey in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

The Tortugas Mountain in Las Cruces.

There were a lot of pecan trees growing on either side of the road heading out of Las Cruces. Richard was curious how they harvest pecans, since the trees were very tall. I had to google it to find out. Apparently the nuts fall off the tree or they are shaken off with large poles, and then the nuts dry at the base of the tree in the sun, as long as it is not wet. All of the trees in these orchards seemed to have a cleared area around the base of there tree, which would make sense to be able to dry the pecans in the sunshine. I know they also grow pecans in Texas as I’ve picked some before when we stayed with my Aunt who lived in Fort Worth. Hopefully tomorrow we can find a roadside stand to buy some Texas pecans for baking!

We both thought that we wouldn’t get to Texas until we had been driving for about an hour, but we were surprised that within 28 minutes, we had reached Anthony, Texas.

I am not sure I would say I was that ‘Enchanted’ with New Mexico! Maybe we just didn’t spend enough time to find out.

Welcome to Texas! Our 6th state on this trip! We both have connections to Texas since Richard grew up in Dallas from grade 3 to 8th grade as he dad worked in Texas and the family lived in Farmer’s Branch, which is a suburb of Dallas. My cousin and her husband and my nephew and his wife life just outside of Fort Worth. My mom’s sister lived here too until her passing on December 26th, 2004, so we would visit Texas frequently on vacation to see family. But neither one of us has ever driven through West Texas like we are doing today! This will be different for both of us!

We couldn’t believe how big El Paso was! It took us 40 minutes to drive from one end of El Paso to the other end at 60 mph! What a sprawling big city, that only has a population of 681,728 people! Luckily there was no traffic jams through this big city, but what a lot of road infrastructure they have in El Paso!

A large road infrastructure in El Paso, Texas.

That sure is different. The sides of the road are orange and green!

El Paso Street in El Paso!

They even have the Texas star carved into the underpass in El Paso!

We knew we would be going through some mountainous areas in Texas, but we didn’t realize how mountainous West Texas was until we started driving through it. We hugged the Rio Grande river on the border of Mexico for quite awhile on I10East.

Mountains in West Texas.

As we were getting close to Sierra Blanca, of course we saw the Sierra Blanca mountains!

Next thing we knew we were being forced off the road to go through what looked like a truck inspection station. We couldn’t figure out why we had to get off the road?

When we saw this sign we thought it was just for trucks, but no, we also had to slow down and go through the same place as the trucks were going.

Ok. What is this place that everyone has to go through? Richard thought it might be to pay a toll, but we never saw any signs for a toll. Strange, this sure is different!

Now we understand! U.S. Border Patrol!!! Apparently the Sierra Blanca Border Patrol Station has been in continuous operation since 1924. This station is responsible for 73 border miles between the U.S. and Mexico. For context, this border patrol station is about 30 miles inside of Texas, due East of Mexico. As we got up to the Border Patrol guard, he just took one look at us and said’ You’re good”, and we kept driving. I’m glad we didn’t get stopped or searched today. While we have nothing to hide, we definitely didn’t need any unnecessary delays on our trip today!

We thought that now that we were in Texas we would finally be on Central Time. We’ve been on Pacific Time and Mountain Time for a long time and its nice to get closer to Eastern Time to be able to make plans to chat with friends, rather than trying to figure out the 3 or 2 hour time difference. Little did we know that the El Paso County up until Van Horn,Texas, is the only part of Texas that follows Mountain Time.

Finally! We are now only a one hour time difference from back home.

Richard knew that there was a ‘Love’s Truck stop’ in Van Horn, Texas and with the time change it was now 1:30pm. It was a great time to stop for more diesel fuel and for some lunch. While Richard filled Newman up with diesel, I went inside ’Love’s‘ to see if there was a ‘fast food’ joint inside, and I found a Subway restaurant. Perfect! A toasted club sub, and Richard could have 3/4‘s of the sub for his lunch and I would eat 1/4.

Diesel today was the lowest we have paid on our trip at $3.599 a gallon. We had done exactly 400 miles since our last fill up and we got 8.846 mpg, which is very good gas mileage for Newman!

I’m always thankful that Richard keeps the front windows on Newman as clean as he can. It makes it easier for me to take photos as we travel, if the windows are clean!

Richard wanted to take a picture of Newman with all of the big trucks at Love’s!

And this is why Richard is happy we don’t have a ‘toad’ with us! It was so easy for him to back into this site and park for our lunch, which he could not do, when we had our Jerry towed behind us.

After filling up at lunchtime we still had an hour of driving to do before we reached our destination for the evening.

Interesting scenery on our drive today in West Texas, after we left Van Horn, Texas, heading east on I10. The scenery sure is different than what we saw in Arizona, and New Mexico!

We definitely are staying on I10 East to San Antonio and not going to Ft Worth or Dallas on this trip. Maybe another time to see family, but not today!

Our RV site tonight is the deal of a century! We are in Balmorhea Texas, which is the middle of nowhere Texas, but we have full hookups and 50 amp service and we are only paying $20 for the night.

Our site at Saddleback Mountain RV Park where their slogan is ‘Rest on your great wide open’! We could pick any site on the lot for $20. Every site is a ‘pull though’ site and the site is level too! This RV campground experience sure is different! You also don’t check in with anyone. You can either pay online (like I did), or leave $20 cash in their drop box.

Newman enjoying the desert in West Texas.

Different vegetation than we are used to back home!

I couldn’t count how many different kinds of cactus are at this RV park!

These cactus appear to be flowering.

Instead of being rounded, these cactus are angled at the top.

I saw that there was a short nature trail next to the RV park, so once Richard had Newman all set up, I said we should go for a walk to stretch our legs.

I changed my shoes to put on my running shoes as I definitely didn’t want to step on anything poisonous!

The temperature was 20C and windy which was quite different than what we’ve been used to. I definitely didn’t need the sweatshirt on our walk!

A trail of cactus!

Look who is growing in the field of cactus!

The Saddleback Steakhouse is also on the same property as the RV park. I had found this spot on RV Trip Wizard, and since we only wanted to drive about 4.45 hours today, this town of Balmorhea seemed the perfect place to stop - especially with somewhere to get takeout for dinner! The flag below the American flag says “Don’t blame me, I voted for Trump!” Different!

The front porch of the steakhouse seems very welcoming! That’s different to have political signs still in place 13 months later.

Newman. All by himself in the RV park. There are other RVs in the lot, we just didn’t park next to them, and some for obvious reasons.

We didn’t get too close to this guy, but if you look closely and enlarge the photo there is an American flag and right below it a Confederate flag. That’s definitely different! I think we’ll keep our distance, thank you very much!

Richard called the restaurant to see if they were open and since he called on his cell phone and said he was from the RV park, they texted him the menu immediately. I gave my order for dinner to Richard and he has gone up to the Saloon to order takeout and have a ‘Lonestar’ while he waits on the patio for our dinner. Everything is homemade and I can’t wait to have some good, authentic Texas home style grub tonight for dinner! You’ll have to come back tomorrow to read all about what we had for dinner! We are definitely eating in Newman as the Saloon bills itself as a ‘true republican bar‘ in West Texas. That’s definitely different!

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