May 16, 2022 Study Butte, TX to Carlsbad, NM

LAST NIGHT’S LUNAR ECLIPSE WAS AMAZING! Astronomy has always been an interest of mine, so I try to view every special celestial event that I can. Last night was no exception. I went outside at 10:30 to see the lunar eclipse. It was already in progress. Lucky for us, the sky was dark with no ambient light from anywhere around, so I could see the kazillions of stars that were out. I was hoping for a night just like this one! I laid on the top of the picnic table and just took it all in. I was able to recognize the Big Dipper even though it was upside down in our sky and the Archer. I took an astronomy course in college as an elective and used to be pretty good at recognizing all the major constellations, but I’m a little rusty now. I laid out there for an hour to watch the progression of the eclipse. After an hour, I grew tired and went inside. It was well-worth the time! I thought my camera took some pretty good pictures, but not as good as seeing it for yourself.

This morning we had 265 miles to go and we were on the road by 9:15 with a hazy sky and a temp of 84 degrees. We climbed out of the valley and into the mountains on Highway 118, the same highway we came in on. We would be traveling on secondary highways all day today.

It is 80 miles to the town of Alpine, where we’ll pick up Highways 90 to 67 to 1776 to 285, the last of which will be new territory to us. Going north, there were some new sights to see from this direction.

We crossed the flatlands where miles of nothingness could be seen.

We actually saw two Javelinas along the side of the road rooting around, but they were too fast for me to take a picture. About 10 miles from Alpine, we came upon the Border Patrol Station.

The sign said to stop if the lights were flashing and they were not, so we passed by.

We saw another “watch out for donkeys” sign, but this time we actually saw the donkeys grazing in the field.

We could see Alpine in the valley as we descended from the mountains. We arrived there after an hour of driving.

We took Highway 67 out of Alpine which is another highway we’ve been on before. We ran into a little construction where they brought in another stoplight to control one-way traffic. I guess they did away with the need for a flag lady. Too bad!

Highway 67 went on–straight forever.

We took a short 5 mile stretch of Highway 1776 to 285 which cut off 14 miles from our drive today. We pulled off on the side of that road at an official “pulloff” area to use the bathroom and eat our lunch. Bob started up the generator to run the AC for Auggie. We have had to do that on all our long drives through Texas. It gets a little warm back there for him, although we travel with the shades down to keep it cooler.

From Highway 1776, we hopped on Highway 285 which would take us to the town of Pecos. The highway was a 2-lane road and you guessed it . . . straight! There was very little traffic for the most part.

We did come upon another stoplight in another construction zone.

We saw many signs along the highway that were selling water for 20 cents a gallon. Water is scarce and valuable. We came upon a huge feed yard filled with Black Angus cattle. To have cattle, you need the feed which they were also growing in this area.

feed yard

There were also areas where we saw they were drilling for oil, the tanks to collect it, and a large electrical grid to provide the power for the drilling.

This whole area had us asking ourselves a lot of questions. We researched and found out that this area is part of the Permian Basin–a large sedimentary basin containing the Mid-Continent Oil Field. It is located in western Texas and southeastern New Mexico. It is a large oil and natural gas producing area. It’s also a large source of potassium salts. We finally arrived in Pecos which is situated at the intersection of Highway 285 and I-20. It was a larger town that we thought with a lot of services there. Pecos has an interesting history as well. As of 2012, Pecos is the second -fastest growing small town in the US. It is the center for ranching, oil and gas production, and agriculture in the area. Pecos is also most recognized for the cultivation of cantaloupes. Can you believe it? It is also famous as the site of the WORLD’S first rodeo on July 4, 1883. Interesting! This seems to also be a corridor for tankers waiting to be filled. They were lined up for a few miles.

We saw a couple of these RV parks along this route that had individual covered sites. Now that’s a great idea!

We crossed the border into New Mexico and the Mountain Time Zone at 1:30 (CT). There was no sign for either, but we did notice a change in the quality of the road and ALL THE ROAD CONSTRUCTION. Traffic increased substantially since we left Pecos, including lots of heavy equipment and trucks. Bob noticed the Goodyear Blimp flying parallel to us and apparently at the same speed because they stayed right with us for a few miles. Eventually it turned and flew over us.

We noticed this grove of pecan trees lining the road as we approached the city of Carlsbad.

We arrived at our campground, Carlsbad RV Park, for the next three nights.

We checked in at the Office and realized that this was the place that has an indoor pool. We’ll have to take advantage of that.

We were led to site G5, a double-long, pull through site. There was a tree providing some shade.

That’s an improvement from our last campground. As Bob said, “At least it doesn’t have ‘moon dust’ all over.” We set up, turned on the AC, unhooked the Jeep, and settled in. Auggie got some time outside under the shade tree. He seemed to enjoy it. The campground is not full and another Fleetwood Discovery pulled in after us. They were from Florida too–the Orlando area. We chatted a bit later in the day and found out that they are planning to be in Moab, UT at the same time we are going to be there. They want to do some off-roading, but they are kind of new to it. Bob gave them some suggestions for trails to drive. We have an extra day here so we can get the motorhome washed and maybe do a little shopping for groceries. We’ve been gone a month and the bus has a lot of road dust on it, as well as all that dust from the dust storm on Terrible Tuesday. We have a reservation to enter Carlsbad Caverns State Park on a timed-entry pass on Wednesday, but we also want to view the bats leave the cave which they do every night. It’s quite something to see, we’re told. We took Auggie for his evening walk. Even though the temp was still 96, it didn’t feel like it. The humidity was a mere 12% and there was a nice breeze blowing. We have a little bit of adjustment to the time zone change, but Auggie doesn’t understand that, so we took our walk at 6:30 instead of 7:30. The RVers we met yesterday in Terlingua, pulled in next to us tonight. They were also in the same campground at Big Bend, We found out that they are from Alabama on a trip to Yosemite. It is truly a small world. After Auggie and I took our walk, we sat outside for awhile with Bob until the sun went down. It was a very beautiful evening.

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