El Paso, TX to Tucson, AZ

“Parking lots and county lines, countin’ mile marker signs” – Kacey Musgraves

Miles Traveled: 366.7

Even the best-laid plans can require some alteration. My uber-organized spreadsheet took a bit of a navigational blow today after dropping the Jeep (who I have affectionately dubbed ‘Dusty’ because of the road-grimy appearance of the exterior) at the dealership (which was literally less than a mile from my hotel – couldn’t have planned that better if I had tried) for its routine oil change. Even though I had the Jeep checked out in Charleston a few weeks before leaving, since I’m on the road solo I asked them to just give it a once over for some peace of mind. Turns out ole Dusty’s rear brake pads only had about 10% life left on them. Brakes seem important (and it wasn’t going to cost me to have them replaced, so I felt like it was legit and not an attempt to upcharge me to death while on funemployment – hooray for a maintenance plan), so I went ahead and had them replaced. The only downside to this was time – it was going to take them several hours to accomplish. So while I waited for Dusty to become road worthy again, I conjured up a new plan for the day.

My original plan was to head to the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument near Silver City, New Mexico and to stay in Silver City for the night. That was a pretty long haul up some windy mountain roads and I was now over 4 hours behind schedule. So new plan was to head to Tucson, AZ a day early and stay there 2 nights instead. While in Tucson, I planned to treat myself to a horseback ride Wednesday afternoon in Saguaro National Park to congratulate myself for beautifully adapting to the situation at hand and going beyond the neatly organized cells of my spreadsheet.

Before hitting the road, I made a couple of quick stops to the post office and to Target. Target? Not the most scenic establishment, but I had my reasons. My corkboard map numbers have started to wear down from the elements, so I need to make a modification to the numbers. Found some stickers in Target and grabbed a phone case (my otter box case had to be retired for undisclosed reasons), and then I channeled my inner Henry Lowndes and picked up a sub at Subway. Went with a foot long, plain turkey with black olives on wheat and had them wrap each half separately – hello lunch & dinner for the day. The separately wrapped halves are key for the road. You are welcome for the road-trippers tip of the day.

Driving out of Texas, and back into New Mexico, was much different than the day before – much more eye-appealing landscape and felt less like driving into a different country. Also, I was thrilled to have passed an enormous road runner statue, thousands of cows on the dairy farms, and more pecan farms (they looked like orchards, but I’m calling them farms – no clue which is correct). It was a pretty eventful day on the highway as I also drove over the Rio Grande just outside of Las Cruces, crossed the Continental Divide (still don’t understand why that’s worthy of road signage but hey), and navigated through the US Border Patrol area. That was quite interesting – really had no idea what to expect, and I was at first a little concerned that they would want to search through all of my stuff if they looked into the back! But is was pretty simple – the dogs sniffed the Jeep and the officer asked me just one question – “Is anyone else traveling with you?” I said no and I was on my way. Bizarre. Maybe that’s why we have border control issues?? Didn’t feel like a thorough job but perhaps it was because I wasn’t at the border, I was just near it. In any event, I am not harboring a collection of illegals in the back of the Jeep – I simply have no space.


welcome to Arizona

welcome to Arizona


US Border Patrol

US Border Patrol

note the large road runner on the hill

note the large road runner on the hill

Feeling the need to stretch the legs a little, I took a slight detour down to the Wild West, and now overly commercialized town of Tombstone. I’ve been before, but it’s been a while, and I think today may be my last trip! So commercialized, you barely even realize you are in the Wild West. But a neat place to walk around in and allow my trigger finger to get some exercise with the camera. I wandered into some of the shops (had to find the daily postcard), and was amused by some of the store signage – my personal favorite being “Don’t touch the artifacts.” I’m no expert, but when the ‘artifacts’ are for sale, they are no longer ‘artifacts’!

IMG_6110 IMG_7209 IMG_7204 IMG_7202 IMG_7196 IMG_7195 IMG_7194 IMG_7191 IMG_7188 IMG_7185 IMG_7183 IMG_7180 IMG_7177 IMG_7176 IMG_7173 IMG_7172 IMG_7168 IMG_7167 IMG_7161 IMG_7160 IMG_7159 IMG_7153 IMG_7152 IMG_7150 IMG_7148 IMG_7145 IMG_7144 IMG_6116 IMG_6114

I hopped back into the Jeep and headed to Tucson and was encountered by a torrential rainstorm of all things! Fine by me – it was much cooler and ole Dusty got a bit of a bath!

So please don’t panic, the spreadsheet has been updated accordingly and we are hopefully back on track. And even if the spreadsheet takes another hit down the road, who cares – I’m on funemployment.

Until next time…

– traveljunkE

day 16

day 16

trip totals

trip totals

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