02.01.2013 - 06.01.2013 0 °C
It seems that although I thought I had left Bisbee, it wasn't quite ready to let me out of its clutches. I stopped to take a photo of the mine, and noticed that there seemed to be a good vantage point at the south end. It turned out that a hole in the ground looks pretty much the same whichever end you take the photo from,
but something appeared to be a bit odd about the street behind me (this was the main street of Lowell, a suburb of Bisbee established to house mineworkers). I still don't quite know how or who is responsible, but the main street of Lowell is set up as if the past few decades simply did not happen. I don't know what it is about the Scenicruiser, but I have always wanted to travel in one
But it wasn't just the old bus, the whole street (it was only a block long) was stuck in a timewarp
With all the excitement, I decided I might as well have breakfast (one of the joys of travel is that you can make such decisions at 2:30 in the afternoon) and as luck would have it the Bisbee Breakfast Club is in Lowell. I tried a chicken fried steak (not a fan - it tasted a bit like sausage meat and I didn't like the gravy but the hashbrown was great)
There was still one more treat in store - the Shady Dell RV park, set up in 1927 and stocked with caravans from the 1950's - if I'd done some research before stumbling into Bisbee, I may well have stayed here)
Up above the park, I saw the remnants of the mythical Great Wall of Arizona
It is a total of 27 miles from Bisbee to Douglas: somehow it was practically dark when I finally got to Douglas. I'm quite glad I hadn't made it important to come here and skip Bisbee - it really didn't have much going on. I just stayed in the Motel6 and went to the fancy hotel (the Gadsden) for dinner - the menu was curiously un-fancy, I ended up with roast beef, and dined in splendid near isolation
There were actually a pair of corpulent gentlemen dining silently on their steaks off to my left, and of course the pretty but very dim waitress was wandering about. I fared much better the next day for lunch: freshly fried tacos were an absolute revelation to me. I'm glad I had that high point, because things turned a bit rough almost immediately. I was about 5 miles out of town when it began to snow: I had to decide whether to turn back, press on on my original route (a small country road through the bottom corner of New Mexico) or cut up to the Interstate. Turning back was never really an option, and taking the remote country road turned out to be the right choice: the Interstate had a few problems with closed lanes, crashes and lengthy delays.
The cheapest car in America built up quite a collection of ice on his sills and underbody on this part of the trip, which took about 24 hours to fall off. When I finally hit the end of my road, I could see El Paso in the distance: luckily I fell into the right road to take me towards town (there were no signs at all). I was pretty tired so I crawled into the first decent and cheap looking motel with a pile of Popeyes chicken and hid from the snow. I did get out and about in the morning to check out downtown for a few hours, and was confused for most of them. When I was last in the States, I came across by train and I had the idea that I had had a couple of hours to wander El Paso. Certainly, some of what I saw was familiar
but there was much which was not, such as this prison in the middle of downtown
It wasn't until I had got myself sat down in a coffee shop with a coffee when I finally had confirmation that I have been here before: I had visited the same coffee shop. I didn't really warm to El Paso but liked these buildings
I was standing outside this building
when a fellow stopped and muttered "Hollywood Cafe". Turns out that it used to have curtained booths, and this fellow's grandfather used to secrete himself behind one, hiding in particular from his family. There is still a cafe in the building, but a terrible looking Chinese-Mexican abomination. I did like Starr's Western Wear, although I didn't find anything I wanted
I left El Paso on the Interstate: the speed limit in Texas is 80 miles an hour and that's pretty much a minimum: the poor old cheapest car in America really didn't like this part of the trip. He had a reprieve: I still don't know if it was snow related or Border Control related, but at one point all traffic was halted. A Border Control bloke shone a torch in my eyes and allowed me to leave the Interstate and take the express route, past miles of stopped traffic.
The next couple of days were just dull days of driving, eating crap food, watching too much TV (reruns of Friends is still common, less so Seinfeld, and they seem to delight in playing up to three hours at once of the Big Bang Theory and George Lopez). I ended up feeling a little bit crook, wondering about the merits of the whole trip, and a little bit out of it - to the point I jumped a red light right in front of a policeman: he was very courteous and let me off with a warning.
I had taken the long way, because I had been reading about Big Bend National Park, its isolation and wonderful landscapes and, of course, the legendary Rio Grande which separates Mexico from America. It turned out to be a big waste of time. As for the isolation - because it is a National Park, I saw more people there than I had seen for a couple of days. The landscape was not much different from what I had seen and the poor old Rio Grande, well it has seen better days
I'd rather not have seen it than see it so depleted (mind you, America is in the midst of a long-standing drought, so that wouldn't have helped). I nearly stopped in Marfa for the night, even though I was there at about 11:00 in the morning, simply because of this sign
Way back in San Diego, I came across the infamous Judge Bean (he broke out of the prison there). I was bumbling along and came across a tiny place called Langtry where I thought I might be able to get something to drink. No such luck, but it turned out to be where the good Judge had dispensed justice, from premises which were combined billiard room, bar and Courthouse (he apparently did most of his judging work on the porch)
There are two stories as to how Langtry got its name: one one account, Langtry was a railwayman who had surveyed the area. On another version, the Judge had named the town Langtry because he was slightly obsessed with Lillie Langtry and thought naming the town after her might bring her to it. Whatever version is true, it is true that the Judge gave his home a rather grandiose title in the hope she would be willing to visit
No - it isn't any sort of Opera House, just his residence. Oh, and if you're wondering what the Pecos is, its a river I crossed shortly after leaving Langtry
Eventually, I was passing through a town called Sabinal and noted a turn off to Utopia, so stopped immediately and checked into a motel.