Stage 8: San Antonio, TX - Kingston, NM

Okay, here we go. This drive will be the biggest and longest of our trip: nearly 700 miles all the way across Texas, along the Mexican border, through El Paso and into Southern New Mexico. As few stops as possible, no family to see, no friends to visit, just an entire state to cross and one day to do it in. We were treated to a good breakfast by our hosts at the O’Casey B&B, and hit the road a little before 10 am. Back to US-10, and across the entire width of Texas. I was expecting an incredibly boring drive with lots of flat, barren desert land with nothing really to look at, but I was pleasantly surprised by all the variety and beauty of central and western Texas. There was some arid and flat desert land, but the majority of the drive was filled with big skies,

rolling country,

dynamite cuts through the hillsides,

oil derricks,

and dust devils!

Oh, and I don't know if you knew about this, but in Texas they have one rule that goes above and beyond all others. It is the long history of this one golden rule that allows the state flag of Texas to fly as high as the stars and stripes, the capital dome in Austin to be as tall as its national counterpart in Washington DC, and the sovereign state of Texas to secede from the Union at any time it sees fit.

You just Don't Mess With Texas, plain and simple. Look what happened to Saddam Hussein. He only messed with Texas indirectly, and now he got executed! Seriously. DO NOT mess with Texas.

Once we hit the town of Esperanza, our route paralleled the Rio Grande and put us within sight of Mexico. Oddly, I didn’t see much of the crazy “border war” that we’ve heard so much about in the news. The Rio Grande valley looked pretty peaceful from our well-removed, comfortable seat in a car barreling down the highway, but we did get a couple of looks at the south-of-the-border town of Ciudad Jaurez, just across from El Paso.

After our brief borderland experience, we turned north into New Mexico.

It was here, cruising north on I-25, that we had our encounter with the United States Border Patrol. Our two lanes of fast and smooth highway were narrowed to one by a line of cones, and a sequence of signs on the shoulder told us that all cars must exit to the inspection station. We don’t have any photos of this episode in the journey because I was afraid the border patrol officers might accuse us of conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism or something of the kind, so I quickly stashed the camera and began hunting for all the important documents that cops usually ask for at roadblocks: driver’s license, proof of insurance, vehicle registration; and even some that only the border patrol might care about: passport, birth certificate, marriage license, etc. We rolled up to the stop, hoping that the officer wouldn’t see any reason to search our car filled to the brim with everything we’d need for a 2-week trip across the country and the start of our life in Portland. India rolled down the driver’s side window as we pulled up to the inspection point and greeted the young man in a border patrol uniform who walked up to our car. He only had one question: “American citizens?”

“umm, yeah,” India replied.

“Move along.”

“Oh… thanks…”

And we were on our way. That was it. The whole time we were in the borderlands I kept looking for signs of this wall being built between the US and Mexico, but didn’t see a thing. I imagine we just weren’t close enough.

Once we were in New Mexico, we were ready for a good night’s sleep but were still a little hungry, even after a late lunch. We tried to stop for dinner in a little farm town near where we would camp the night, but the only restaurant in town was closed when we arrived at about 7:30. We headed up the road peeved and tired, but still on the lookout for dinner spots. No food options showed themselves, but we did enjoy a beautiful sunset over the plains of New Mexico as we drove the winding roads toward our campsite, just outside of the tiny town of Kingston in the Gila National Forest.

We found our little hole in the woods, pitched our tent in the dark, had a light dinner of Clif bars and Lone Stars while we watched the stars come out, and turned in for the night.

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