Day 15 – Tajitas to Las Cruces, NM
Today we headed to Las Cruces, New Mexico where we are staying tonight. We got a good start this morning and saved some time by just having juice and muffins for breakfast. For the first 40 miles or so we traveled through Big Bend Ranch State Park on what has been called the most scenic drive in Texas. It was a scenic drive following the Rio Grande River on one side and mountains on the other. There were access sites to the river all along the way and we saw people canoeing and fishing. I will say though, that if that is the most scenic drive in Texas, it doesn’t say much for the rest of Texas as it was nice, but nothing really spectacular.
|Driving into Big Bend Ranch State Park.|
|The Rio Grande River|
|You can see how shallow the river is.|
As we left the river and the park, the land once again became arid and empty. The one thing we did see was plenty of was border patrol. Mexico is right across the river so there is a real concentration of enforcement. There was a checkpoint where all vehicles were stopped and at one point out in the middle of nowhere we saw a strange blimp like thing. That turned out to be a tethered radar blimp that is used for border protection and drug enforcement.
We spent the rest of the day traveling through the open land with a few small towns until we reached El Paso, Texas, which is right on the New Mexico border. El Paso is by far the largest town in the area with a population of over 600,000. We crossed over into New Mexico and we had finally gotten across Texas – Texas is a very large state!! It was a short drive from El Paso to Las Cruces and we arrived at our hotel around 4:00.
We were tired and didn’t feel like going out to eat so once again we opted to go to a nearby market and get some food we could bring back to the room. Tomorrow will be a long day as we make our way North and West to Winslow, Arizona where we’ll be staying.
Day 16 – Las Cruces to Winslow, AZ
Today we had over 400 miles to drive so we were up early and on the road before 9:00. Surprisingly, Val was feeling much better today and her sore throat was gone; that was a very short cold. The first part of the drive was what we have experience quite a bit on this trip, it was empty and arid, but as we neared the Arizona border the terrain changed. We entered the Gia National Forest and the land became more mountainous and greener. It was a very pleasant drive with great scenery and although much slower going, it was worth it.
As we got within 50 miles of Interstate 40 we came out of the mountainous area and were once again in a flat arid area. We got on I-40 in Hollbrook and made the short drive west to Winslow where we are staying tonight. In October of 2014 on our way back from New Mexico we stayed at the La Posada Hotel in Winslow, which had been recommended to us by some friends and we liked it so much we are staying there again.
The La Posada is a historic hotel, but rather than go into the details I will link back to the old blog post which talks about the La Posada and has pictures of the hotel. In the La Posada there is a restaurant called the Turquoise Room. The Chef, Jon Sharpe, has been nominated for the prestigious James Beard award, and the restaurant was awarded the Conde Naste best food award. It's a world-class restaurant in the very unassuming desert town of Wndslow. Once again the dinner was just outstanding, it is really an excellent restaurant.
Tomorrow is a relatively short drive to Las Vegas where will spend four days before heading home.