The El Paso Gauntlet

Our 270 mile jaunt yesterday was a mostly pleasurable and interesting drive, except for the terror of driving through El Paso. Due to the geography of the area, it's nearly impossible to avoid driving through this miserable dusty excuse for a town. All east-west traffic, highway or railroad, must squeeze through a mile-wide slot between mountains to the north and the Rio Grande river (the US - Mexico border) to the south -- so there's a lot going on through there. At the closest point, I-10 is less than 200 yards from the border.

El Paso has a population of 750,000. It's adjoining sister-city just across the Rio Grande, Juarez, has twice that... 1.5 million. Both times we've been through here in the past few years, a dense visible layer of dust, smoke, smog, exhaust, manure methane, and bad-breath, hangs over the area like a suffocating blanket. To be fair, there are probably some nice areas around town... I just haven't seen them.

Just to the northwest of the metro area is a string of the largest dairy farms, factories really, that I've ever seen. Depending on the direction of the wind, you'll smell them long before you'll see them. Coming from Wisconsin, where only a generation ago a large dairy herd consisted of less than 100 cows, we were stunned by the size of these operations... literally thousands and thousands of cows packed into pens as far as the eye could see. If these miserable creatures could think I'm sure they'd long for the day they'll become hamburger.

Many of the less-than-main-roads on the rural edges of the metro area are paved with native dirt, especially those on the Mexican side. Every old pickup truck moving down these trails leaves a rooster tail of dust that "enhances" the air quality. Add to that the observed plumes of smoke from what we can only guess is some kind of agricultural based field burning... well, you get the idea. This ain't one of our favorite spots in the good old U.S.A. We know we'll inevitably have to cut through this area again, but it's safe to say we will continue to "el pass-o" through... there won't be any "el-staying" any time soon.

Enough about that.

After a long and otherwise agreeable drive, we pulled into the Lost Alaskan RV Park in Alpine Texas. We think it'll be a nice spot to spend our Christmas week. While a couple of explorations are on the list during our week here, we'll mostly just enjoy the down-time.

Last night the alarm went off at 1:15am... A.M.!!! Dar wanted to see the lunar eclipse and had convinced me it was worth the effort. So there I was, standing outside in 40-ish degree weather, in my sleeping attire (which ain't much), peering through binoculars at another of nature's sky show attractions. Was it worth it? Sure was! But it also felt good to climb back into bed an hour and a half later.

Enjoying the clear air of Alpine Texas...
T
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