We all know the only constant is change but sometimes our memories of a place convince us that time can stand still and nothing will have changed since we were last there. That happened to Jose and me today as we drove through El Paso, Texas. We lived there in the early eighties and I think we expected to find the place just as when we left. We were so surprised. The city has grown and changed so much we couldn't even find our old apartment or favorite hangouts. Forty years is a long time. We wondered what our lives would have been like if we had stayed there after we both finished school, Jose medical school in Ciudad Juarez and UTEP for me. Idle speculation.
Below is a shot of our view from the Las Cruces KOA campground in New Mexico where we spent the night before heading to El Paso.
We've driven more than 1,300 miles since we left California and find ourselves today in a lovely RV park in Fredericksburg, an old German town in Texas hill country.
The most memorable part of our journey so far has been our stay in Mesa, Arizona where we visited the Tonto National Forest, Arizona's largest forest and the seventh largest in the United States, 2.9 million acres of rugged, mountain terrain, lakes and all kind of wildlife. We visited the community of Tortilla Flat, population six. Originally, a stop along the Apache Trail and the campsite of prospectors looking for gold in the Superstition Mountains, the historic community was established in 1904 when it became a staging area for the construction of the Theodore Roosevelt Dam. We ate at the Tortilla Flat Saloon where the food wasn't great but we enjoyed looking at the walls covered in money and other unique artifacts like the skin of a ten foot python. I also loved the Prickly Pear lemonade and the Prickly Pear sorbet from the ice cream shoppe.
The following day, we had to summon our billy goat spirts to climb a mile up the rocky Wind Cave trail in Usery Mountain Regional park. We hiked in the early morning and thankfully the weather was perfect because it was not an easy hike. We were warned of rattlesnakes who like to come out at this time of the year but thankfully we didn't encountered any. We did see many beautiful cacti and cholla tress (pictured below).
One thing we saw and wished we hadn't was a section of the border wall dividing Ciudad Juarez and El Paso. About 131 miles of wall was refurbished or built in 2019 along the New Mexico - Texas border with Mexico in what is called the El Paso sector. I remembered a chain link fence at the border crossing between El Paso and Ciudad Juarez but this wall looks ominous and it made me sad. I wish we didn't need walls and that our politicians would have the wherewithal to fix our broken immigration system. This was the topic of lively debate between Jose and I for the next nine hours of boring driving along I10 where not even the resting areas look appealing e
Tomorrow we continue east and will make one or two more stops in Texas. This state is big!