As Falls Wichita

Three days to cross Texas and get to Memphis. Elvis awaits!

We left Carlsbad and drove through the land of the dead oil wells for most of the morning. Very few wells were pumping. In some places, you could see them to the horizon. The towns we went through looked deserted for the most part. Later in the drive, we started hitting the ones that were operating.


We got to the RV Park to discover they had a hot tub! The scenery on the drive into the area left me underwhelmed, as did the stuff I read about Lubbock. So I passed in favor of sitting in the hot tub that afternoon and left early the following day.

Lubbock. I’ll Pass.

The second day’s drive started in the grasslands. A lot of water, and everything was green as usual. Eventually, I got into some very pretty hills with smaller mesas and buttes off in the distance.

White River

The were a lot of large cattle ranches with cool names. That leads into Wichita Falls through several large wind farms. I love driving through these monsters!

I discovered you can see a map of all installations in the US. On average, a single turbine can power about 1000 homes. Blades are about 100 feet long.

I listened to Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls on the way in. It was the number-one Jazz LP in 1981. I love It’s For You – the perfect nostalgia song.

They were so young, and their music was so fresh. I started listening to them in the late 1970s. Now, Pat is my age, has three kids still in school, and tours all the time. Probably the most successful jazz guitarist ever. Lyle died early several years ago after stepping back from music to become an IT consultant. And here I am 40+ years later – finally there ๐Ÿ˜Ž.

Wichita Falls

It turns out the original falls that the city was named after were destroyed in a flood in the early 1800s. It wasn’t until the 1980s that another one was built. They pump river water out to make it work.

I have to say I was a little disappointed when I saw it. Like the fountain in your backyard – only bigger ๐Ÿคฃ. It looks like a giant chocolate fountain to me ๐Ÿคฉ. Slightly more brown than my toxic waste spill in New Mexico ๐Ÿคฎ.

The Chamber of Commerce must be proud – you can see it from the fucking freeway. So Falls Wichita Falls – indeed!

Back on the road. Lots of cattle ranches. Lots of trucks too. I got the impression there are a lot of second homes for the urban folks here. Primarily it was just grazing farmland. They have a lot of pull-outs with picnic tables which make for nice places to stop.

Northeast Texas


This is one end of a train line established in 1874 originating in St Louis. It has twin cities in Texas and Arkansas. We are just barely on the Texas side.

Texas Arkansas State Line. Not much to do around here, so it’s a tourist attraction. Rated 4 Stars!

The state line runs right down the middle of the fucking freeway here. There is a sign somewhere. It’s rated a 4-star tourist attraction on Google!

I’ll pass again and get an early start. It will be good to get out of Texas again. Bad vibes all around for the most part, although I didn’t see too much of the Fuck Biden stuff on this leg of the trip.

So here we go!

I’m going to Graceland
For reasons I cannot explain
There’s some part of me wants to see
And I may be obliged to defend
Every love, every ending
Or maybe there’s no obligations now
Maybe I’ve a reason to believe
We all will be received
In Graceland

Paul Simon ~ Graceland


Fade left

We fade from south to west on the second half of the drive.

Leaving on Day 6 from Sonora we drove through the remaining part of the Hill Country into Big Bend Country. The scenery changed pretty radially and it became flatter and dryer. At one point the signs warned of an 80-mile stretch with no services.

His dog riding on the back with his goggles on! They were easily doing 80!

We saw a guy riding a big road bike with his dog strapped to the rear seat. he was wearing a pair of goggles and seemed to be thoroughly enjoying the ride. We passed them several times during the day (which is common – you get to know different rigs, etc). Finally, I was able to get a photo of him as he sped out of a rest area and overtook us at 80 mph!

We arrived in Van Horn and stayed at the Wild West RV Park! Not much to write home about but everything worked and we had a quiet evening there.

Van Horn is home to Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin launch operations. About 25 miles up the road Jeff and his buddies fly into space on his giant flying dildo ๐Ÿคฃ. I suspect many of the people staying in the campground worked there. I doubt very seriously that William Shatner was one of them! I passed on the opportunity to visit. Maybe next time ๐Ÿ˜Ž.

We woke to a clear, cold (49 F) morning and headed out on Day 7 for the westernmost end of Texas. We were within range of the Mexican border for most of the drive which took us through El Paso and the New Mexico border. El Paso was not a pretty sight from the roadway – it looked like an endless sprawl in a hot, dry desert.

We stopped for the day at our first KOA Kampground of the trip. We will be staying in them for most of the remainder of the trip. I like the consistency and convenience of going through a single booking process for hundreds of campgrounds. This one was perched on a hill overlooking Las Cruces and Mesilla toward the Guadalupe Mountian range.

We are staying next to the town of Mesilla just north of Las Cruces. The place has an interesting history. It was settled in the mid-1800s. During the Civil War, it was occupied by Confederate soldiers and was named the capital of the Confederate Republic of Arizona for a brief period. Billy the Kid was tried and sentenced to be executed in 1881 here before he escaped (only to be mysteriously shot several months later).

On our way there we stopped by the Rio Grande river at a park near Las Cruces. The riverbed was dry, affording an interesting view of the river, indeed! Jake had a blast running on the sand ๐Ÿถ.

We started Day 8 out visiting Las Cruces and Mesilla before heading west to Arizona and our next stop outside of Tucson. This called for listening to Linda Ronstadt as we drove through the arid landscape! We came across several stretches of areas with bad dust storms. I am not sure I was encouraged by the roadside instructions!

…and pray there is not some idiot from Texas behind you ๐Ÿค 

We ended the day in the middle of Tucson’s suburban sprawl in a huge KOA Resort. Resorts are KOA’s mini-theme park with lots of stuff for families and especially kids to do. This one had several hundred spaces and one section was covered (with a solar panel) to protect the spots below from the scorching Arizona sun โ˜€๏ธ. I like them because they generally have a hot tub. Unfortunately, the one here was lukewarm at best. Our spot was excellent though – Jake even had a little spot of grass he could lie in. It was hot but the low humidity and breeze made it feel a lot cooler.

Day 9 and our last overnight before our visit stop at Desert Springs and Joshua Tree National Monument in California. We drove from Tucson northwest and then made a detour to Gila Bend Arizona.

North of Tucson we went through Saguaro National Park and a stunning drive through Saguaro Cactii forests. I was stunned at how green it appeared in some spots like Pacaco Mountain.

Mt Pacacho AZ

Gila Bend Arizona

45 years ago this Summer I was traveling cross country after graduating from college. My finance Margaret and I made a round trip around the US. The last leg of our trip took us the same route I am going now except we were headed to San Diego. We were trying to get back to San Jose to get married and were making time.

Camping outside of Houston I was bitten by a bunch of ants. I had a reaction, took a bunch of Benadryl, and slept for a day. We stopped at Carlsbad Caverns. The next day we went by Alamagordo (without stopping), and made it all the way to Gila Bend. It was the beginning of August and the heat (in our non-air-conditioned Toyota) was almost too much.

Summer 1978 on my way back to California

We were basically out of money. We wanted to stay at the Best Western (now the Space Age In!) but it was too much. We opted instead for the budget strip motel down the road. We paid our money and went to the room only to discover the A/C had not been turned on! It was hotter in the room than it was outside!

Gila Bend AZ – 45 years later

Fortunately, they had a pool that was almost too hot to swim in but gave us a bit of relief. We went to take showers and left the cold water running for what seemed to be 30 minutes. The water never got any colder! Fuck it we said, and pulled the mattress off the bed and threw it in front of the A/C.

Gila Bend AZ – 45 years later

While we were going to sleep we turned the TV on and saw the weather. The hottest place in the United States that day? Gila Bend, Arizona at 117 F!

We woke up at 3 AM with our teeth chattering. While we slept the room cooled down to the point that we were now freezing! As I letter learned, once the sun goes down the desert can get quite chilly!

Gila Bend AZ – 45 years later

The next day driving into San Diego we passed dozens of cars on the side of the road with radiators boiling over as we drove over a mountain pass into San Diego. The temperature seemed like it dropped 50 degrees as we drove down towards the cool Pacific Ocean!

We stopped for the day at Salome Arizona near the Arizona-California border. It was a bit off the Interstate which gave us the chance to see the desert up close! The campgrounds were huge and mostly vacant after the snowbirds headed back north. They had a pool and a hot tub which I thoroughly enjoyed!

Day 10 – last day of our journey west – next stop California!

Midway Journey West

We’ve made it halfway on our journey west as we stop in Sonora, Texas. We traveled some 1400 miles so far averaging about 250 miles a day after our longer trip on Day 1 to Panama City.

We had a relaxing visit with Dave and Lisa and enjoyed burgers on the back deck with their wonderful view of Lisa’s butterfly heaven and the bijou. Our journey on Day 2 took us through Mobil Alabama and the dreaded I-10 tunnel. Of course, someone honked their horn endlessly and revved their engine to make sure we noticed them ๐Ÿคก.

Oaklawn RV Park near Biloxi Mississippi. Not much – but convenient and everything worked.

We stayed that evening at a convenient campground near Biloxi Mississippi. Nothing to write home about but it was easy in and out with good hookups. We got our first taste of local color here, as noted on one of the resident’s pickup truck ๐Ÿ˜†.

Day 3 took us to Louisiana. Between Mississippi and Louisiana, you would have thought you were in some southern version of Las Vegas. I figure if your city didn’t have a casino you were shit out of luck. Other than that driving through the bijou areas was particularly scenic. We stopped that night in a nicer campground again located conveniently near I-10. A step up from the last place!

Day 4 started with a harrowing journey across roads that looked like they had been bombed. They were in such disrepair. About 10 miles east of the Louisiana – Texas state line the road turned to shit as they worked to repair the damage. It kept up for another 40 miles or so in Texas before getting dumped into bad traffic in Houston.

Texas ๐Ÿคฉ

It was raining just to make life interesting. We made it to our campground in Schulenburg, Texas. The nicest place so far, although it rained hard all night into the morning.

On Day 5, we headed into the Hill Country of Texas as we drove through more crap roadways around San Antonio. The rest of the drive, however, was pleasant as the rain stopped and we finally had some scenery again (after the oil refineries around Houston!). It finally started to feel like we were in the west with good-sized hills (or are they small mountains?) with equally small trees. The temperatures started rising, and it was 90 degrees by the time we got to our campground for the evening in Sonora, Texas.

The campgrounds looked basically abandoned except for two trailers. On closer look, I noticed all the utilities looked new. WTF? Turned out the place was built by pipeline workers in service to the people of Sonora. Their town flooded several years ago, and a new set of campsites were set up for temporary housing as the residents rebuilt. Shortly after that, during the pandemic, the oil industry in this area got clobbered economically. Everyone left, leaving a nice but deserted campground. As noted, the hookups were new. The person who runs the place works during the day but was super responsive to my text messagesโ€”worked for us!

Welcome to the Wild West! Yippie-Tie-Yiyay ๐Ÿค