I left Ft. Stockton yesterday morning and started north across the west Texas desert headed up route 285 to New Mexico – miles and miles of dust and cacti just like the landscape was on Tuesday.
Not only was the land barren, most of the day Tuesday I was the only one driving on the well-maintained, four-lane divided highway. I drove for a couple of hours and then noticed that my gas gauge was nearing one quarter. I could feel the anxiety start to build: I hadn’t seen a town or gas station for miles and miles. Finally, as the needle slipped close to the empty mark, an Exxon station appeared. I gratefully bought their overpriced gas at $2.19 a gallon. (Should have been around $1.89 or so.) I spoke to the only other travelers gassing up: a couple of 20-something Mexican men who were on their way to Mexico and complained to me about the gas price. And they’d been travelling with their fuel light on.
As I drove I was surprised that the desert wasn’t populated with pump jacks, oil rigs, oil field service equipment or pipelines poking above ground. After all the price of oil is based on west Texas crude and I’d been driving in west Texas for two days by this point and only seen the odd pump jack. And then, yesterday, just south of Pecos, I smelled it: oil, crude oil. West Texas crude. And the fields of pump jacks came into view.
Pecos turned out to be one of those windy, dusty towns you see in old western movies - one story buildings with broken windows, doors hanging open on broken hinges, faded signs advertising businesses that no longer exist. Here and there was a lived-in building or a functioning business. It was bleak and dreary and I couldn’t imagine living there.
As I crossed the state line the first town I came to was called Loving….how lovely - how loving! The desert continued along with the fields of pump jacks. I had never thought of New Mexico as an oil producing state.
I drove through Carlsbad without going to the caverns as Annette and I will go there next week. I spent last night just north or Carlsbad at a KOA campgroung.
This morning it was on to Roswell. I saved the UFO museum for the trip back with Annette but I did stop at a Sears clearance store to buy a couple of sweaters. I was delighted to find out that they were clearing out their winter stock. Temperatures in Santa Fe and Albuquerque are headed to highs in the low 50s with lows below freezing.
Tonight I got my hair cut and the woman who cut it just moved to Santa Rosa after 25 years in Albuquerque. “You do know that you can ski in both Sante Fe and Albuquerque, don’t you?” she asked. Yuk! And I thought I was going south for the winter!