Day 10. February 6. After a solid night’s sleep following the Super Bowl win, we got ready to move and hooked up in the frosty cool, scarlet sunrise morning at Davis Mountains. We were headed north and west to Hueco Tanks State Park, just east of El Paso, Texas. It was an easy 230-mile drive under clear and cool skies.
We’ve been packing snacks for the drive and the current feast is Texas ruby red grapefruit.
We discovered these on our trip through Texas last year. In February, they are harvested and available at ridiculously low prices and the taste is sublime. The other taste discovery is Comice pears, which are now available in Texas, and after a couple of days in a paper bag, they are sweet little delicacies.
Our route took us through the artsy little town of Marfa which has been discovered by the New York Times travel section and other travel sites. Just outside of town, heading north, sits an installation art sculpture.. Set right along Highway 90 in the spare west Texas landscape sits Prada Marfa, a permanently installed sculpture by artists Elmgreen and Dragset, The installation was inaugurated on October 1, 2005. The artists called the work a “pop architectural land art project.” The sculpture, was intended to never be repaired, so it might slowly degrade back into the natural landscape. This plan was scrapped when, six days after the sculpture was completed, vandals covered the exterior in graffiti and broke into the building stealing Prada handbags and shoes.
Designed to resemble a Prada store, the building is made of adobe bricks. The installation’s door is nonfunctional. On the front of the structure there are two large windows displaying actual Prada wares, shoes and handbags, picked out and provided by Miuccia Prada herself from the fall/winter 2005 collection. It is an improbable homage to consumerism in the midst of the stark west Texas landscape. Very cool.
We arrived at Hueco Tanks State Park and Historic Site at 2:00pm. The park is unusual in that it is both a sacred desert sanctuary and a day park where rock climbing is permitted in very limited areas. For thousands of years, people have trekked to these rock hills in far west Texas. In earlier times, they came for the rainwater pooled in natural rock basins, or huecos.
The pictographs in the caves are reminders of the ancient ones who passed through here long ago. Access to the park is strictly limited because of the historic nature of the rock formations and its value as an archeological site. There are only 20 campsites and before entering the area, all campers are required to watch a 15-minute video. Visitors today marvel at the imagery left by those ancient people. Last year when here we took a guided tour and actually did some “bouldering” the term used to describe climbing up the remarkable formations to gain access to some of the older pictograph sites.
One of the great gifts of this lifestyle is meeting such interesting people. We set up in our site and a couple came over when they saw our NH plates. They are from Maine and enjoying comfortable RV travel in their Winnebago. They are heading toward Arizona without reservations in any campground. We shared some of our experiences and suggestions for how they might be able to secure campsites in the extremely busy month of February. We hope to see them again down the road.
When we drove into the campground, we noticed a tour bus parked in one of the campsites with a tent on the pad behind the driveway. We later met the occupant, a tour bus driver named Doug from Iowa. Doug had a tour which landed in El Paso and the travelers transferred over to a Mexican tour company for a road trip over the border. Later in the week, the tourists will be dropped back in El Paso and Doug will take them back to Iowa. However, in the interim, instead of staying in a hotel, Doug asked for the OK to spend the days camping. He got permission to bring the bus with him into the campground and then pitch his tent and share his story. Way to think outside the box!
Day 11. February 7. This Tuesday on the road took us 270 miles, as we crossed out of Texas and into New Mexico about 30 minutes beyond Hueco Tanks. New Mexico is one of our favorite places in the country but this time we were just passing through on our way to Arizona and Roper Lake State Park in Safford, Arizona where we will spend two nights.
We got off I-10 at Lordsburg, New Mexico and switched over to Highway 70, which was so much more relaxing for Peter. It is just two lanes, no trucks, open expanses of beautiful high desert, rich in golden grasses and creosote bushes.
Being back in the high desert brought up the conversations affirming how much we love it here. After we leave California at the end of March, we are now thinking that we will return to New Mexico for a much-needed visit and then return to Davis Mountains for more of the powerful wonders of the McDonald Observatory. Travel just opens up the world!
We pulled into Roper Lake State Park, which is in eastern Arizona. We got to our campsite in time for lunch, a nap and a lovely hike over the nature trail that provides stunning vistas of the dominant mountain here, Mt. Graham. The peak, and its accompanying sister mountains, rise up to 10,719 feet and are now dusted with snow. The mountain has a prominence of 6,319 feet over the flat desert and the reservoir that is Roper Lake. This place is one of the Western Apache’s four holiest mountains and is considered sacred by all of the region’s Native peoples. Sitting here in the late afternoon, it is easy to see how it could be so.
From the darkness of T2, I can see out into the campground as fires burn in the individual fire pits, repeating the primitive and ancient ceremony of finding a way to bring light to the cold and darkness of the night. The moon, now nearly full, illuminates the sky. Peter is heading off to the shower and I curl up here in T2, grateful for the beauty of this day well-lived.
Day 12. February 8. No driving today. This was day two of being in the same campground so it was the next of the “details of life-on-the-road” day. I had three appointments today and a phone call set up with our accountant. We headed into town for laundry, the post office, some propane, and a full tank of gas in preparation for our next day’s drive to Mesa, Arizona. We took a bike ride through this lovely park and spotted two other Airstreams in the neighborhood. Peter got to soak in the natural hot springs tub here in the park. It was a lovely and restful and restorative day. Then, Peter packed his suitcase because the day after tomorrow (Friday, February 10) he is leaving for six days of snowboarding in Bozeman, Montana with friends.
On February 9, Peter and Liz arrive in their “long-stay” campgrounds around Phoenix where Liz will spend three weeks soaking in the Arizona sunshine and dry desert air in their Airstream. Peter will spend spend six days less since he’s heading to Bozeman to snowboard.