Thoughts about Being on the Road


We are getting settled in to our digs in New Mexico. The local library within walking distance has a fine Internet connection. Capitan has an exceptional library for a very small town due we supposed to some generous benefactors.

People are always wondering about and asking, “How was the trip through Tampico?”

We answered that last entry. Then the trip across the border and beyond Rio Bravo.

Without fail we are always directed to a secondary inspection on the U.S. border entry. “You have been selected for a secondary inspection. Drive over there.”

Either it is the Mexican plated car, the length of time we had been in Mexico or the hippie-ish pony tailed dude that probably smoked (smokes) pot and other illegal substances; or a combination of the three.

In as much as we had not made a crossing into the U.S. for two years (25 months to be exact) changes had of course been made. Now at the secondary inspection they have a mammoth X-ray machine – one that we had to pass through twice as the first time one official was yelling slow down while another was yelling faster, faster! They got their heads together and had me go through at my own pace after the parameters were detailed.

Once on U.S. soil we discovered things have actually changed dramatically. In the nine years we have been traveling through Southern New Mexico and West Texas things have been pretty stagnant. There was always little change in the terrain and roads – until this trip.

The roads in Texas are always remarkable as compared to the beater roads of Mexico – or just about anywhere for that matter. We figure that the roads got done up real fine when the Bush’s were Presidents. Perhaps Rick Perry has some juice in that direction as well? In any case there are some mighty fine roads in Texas – you’re darn tootin’ there are!

But the changes: First they have thankfully gotten rid of the daytime/nighttime speed limits. One maximum speed sign has replaced all those nonsensical duplicitous speed postings.  From just west of San Antonio through to our turn northward at Fort Stanton in West Texas the speed is a wonderful 80 mph (128 kph). This makes for fast run through Texas (cannot be fast enough for us).

We were amazed by the massive amount of wind generators with many signs labeling different “Wind Farms.” We are here to tell you the hills are ALIVE with windmills – big ones. From about Kerrville (45 miles or so west of San Antonio) to Ozona, Texas along I-10 there are new power towers and cables being installed. Obviously to transport all those windmill’s electricity production. It is amazing just how much this has changed the landscape in the last two years.

Now from about Ozona, Texas all the way up to Carlsbad Cavern, New Mexico new oil wells are working and being dug at what must be a frenetic pace. They are EVERYWHERE. The previously mostly abandoned roads are littered with oil tanker trucks and many pickups with generators and welding gear in their beds. Thoughts of Jett (James Dean) discovering oil on his property; hitting the BIG gusher and becoming ridiculously wealthy ran through my head as we drove past oil pump after oil pump or well drilling rigs. Recall the classic 1956 film “Giant”.

We are guessing that small oil deposits are worth exploiting at or near $100 a barrel prices? Whatever the reason this too has added to a dramatic change in what was sleepy and barren West Texas and Southeast New Mexico.

Two years of ‘progress’ really offered up these changes as well as two new refineries being passed (ugh!).

We should also mention that Texas has some mighty-fine rest stops with environmental designs that seem to be holding up and serving the public well.

Last but not least was the first time use (on a return trip) of our Garmin GPS. What a change in the way one travels this marvelous little gizmo provided. We plugged in point to point destinations rather than one long input of Brownsville to Capitan: Brownsville to Kingsville; Kingsville to San Antonio; San Antonio to Kerrville etc.

No more a need for the big road atlas.

What’s more, need to find a Subway sandwich shop or a rest stop or Home Depot? It’s all there in that little box stuck like Garfield the Cat on our windshield.

Our fancy unit even advises alternate routes when it ‘sees’ traffic ahead. Just an amazing device and highly recommended for any of you thinking about making a long road trip.

We drove into Roswell, New Mexico wanting to visit Sam’s Club before arriving 70 miles further to our Capitan casita. Just before arriving in Roswell we found Sam’s in the listing of general department stores. Road-Duh (or Rhoda) took us directly there. So I could lose the identity of one of those guys that hates to ask directions – Rhoda handled all my questions.

One word of warning: The many speed limit changes, hardly even a concern on Mexico highways, is not always accurate. Little wonder with speed limits changing three times within 500 feet in many situations on U.S. highways. Watch the signs as well as your GPS. We assume this will get even better as time progresses.

One of the first orders of business when arriving in Capitan was to roll the Suzuki Burgman out; remove the dusty cover and remove and charge the battery. I only had ridden it for two weeks after buying it in El Paso two years ago.

How SWEET it is!

It was wonderful getting some wind in my face as that road jewel started right up and took off like it had just been in the stall over-night. We have no helmets with us. Even though here in New Mexico they are not required, we like using them for long runs. So maybe a trip to Roswell or not depending on how brave we get on that front.  More to come (observations) about our U.S. trip so Stay Tuned!

  • Tancho

    And here I thought I was the only one that got hassled at the border…….It is always reward to tell people of how great the highways in Mexico are compared to US roads that are no longer the pride of the country.

  • Paul Bowman

    You passed through the western edges of the Eagle Ford Play,…..fracking….and it stretches all across central Texas. It’s making a lot of Texans rich or “comfortable with a lot left over.”

  • Kim G

    Capitan, NM?!? That’s in the middle of nowhere!

    Why do you hang on to it? Do you worry about fire? Do you have someone to watch it?

    I hope you have a terrific trip.


    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where the speed limits are ABSURDLY low.

  • norm

    On the new oil wells. The new wells go down to the oil area and then go sideways for a mile or so, the old way was a pin prick and a frac job, today it is a big slash and about 40 frac jobs on that slash. I was fracing wells in the 80s, the big difference is the drilling sideways technology . It turns a stripper well deposit into a money cow deposit,

  • Steve Cotton

    What could be better? A Suzuki at the end of this leg of your trip. That would be incentive for me.

  • John Calypso

    A very long story Kim – Although Ruidoso/Capitan is some very lovely territory. We have had this house with two garages for 15 years – used solely for storage – but comparable storage fees would equate to the house has paid for itself and more. Yes we worry about fire in the area – but our real adobe casa in the middle of town is NOT LIKELY to burn (metal roof too ;-)

  • John Calypso

    I will have to Google your lead – like I wrote – A LOT OF ACTION there in the last two years

  • John Calypso

    Indeed it was an enticement. – OH HOW I WISH I could get that behemoth scooter in Mexico.

  • John Calypso

    Interesting Norm. I had kind of figured they were reserve areas for when the price per barrel would justify the effort.

  • John Calypso

    Tancho – we old hippies are suspect – profiling will certainly get us to the second inspection ;-)

  • Kim G

    So it’s literally where you keep your stuff while you’re out getting more stuff? LOL…

  • Kim G

    Yeah well, you guys could well be carrying something, like, you know, organic quinoa…

    We must secure the borders. Just keep repeating that. Must secure the borders….


    Kim G