New Year’s Eve dawned quite comfortably – 55 degrees at 5:30. After getting cleaned up and fed, the slides dutifully came in (a relief) and the 3 of the 4 jacks did the same (not such a relief). That squawling front left jack absolutely did not want to retract. After trying it a time or two, I did what any highly skilled mechanic would do – I crawled under the front end of the motor home and beat the hell out of both sides of the offending jack with a hammer. Apparently that got its attention as the jack then came up, though it was still complaining a bit about the abuse. After a stop for fuel in Paris we were rolling toward Dallas and points west by 7:30 – a pretty decent start despite the lazy jack.
At first we retraced our driving trip to Cooper, and then headed further southwest past Commerce to I-30. While not gorgeous scenery, we did see 3-4 whitetail deer in some brushy areas. Little did we expect that this would be the last wildlife we’d see (roadkill armadillos excepted of course) for the remainder of this 650 mile day. The interstate toward Dallas runs through plenty of nice looking suburbs, many with seemingly brand new high schools along the highway. I guess this “Friday Night Lights” stuff is pretty true, as the football facilities we viewed at each school would have put UW-SP or any other WIAC school to shame. If most didn’t have seating for 7-8000 fans minimum, I’d be very surprised.
We hit the Dallas – Ft Worth metro area around 9:00, which would ordinarily have been fairly disastrous – rush hour traffic and the motor home don’t usually see eye to eye. Fortunately many people seemed to be taking the day off (maybe all the TCU fans were in Pasadena), so traffic around the south side of the metroplex and finally out the west end toward Abilene was pretty tolerable. Once we got west of Ft Worth it became a tad desolate, but we hadn’t seen anything yet.
It is amazing to witness what the combination of no road salt and 8 years of the Bush presidency has done for road quality in Texas. In the nearly 800 miles of Texas interstate we drove over two days I’ll bet we had not a single mile to compare to that cowpath between Madison and Beloit. I guess to get good Wisconsin roads we need to elect Scott Walker President huh? – gag, choke!
Once past Abilene, the scenery (already pretty dismal) dropped off in a hurry. The Midland and Odessa areas have a well earned reputation for being some of the least attractive real estate in all the 50 states. Of course they also have all that petroleum wealth going for them (and they are clearly prospering right now) so perhaps the place looks a little better with an oily film on your glasses – or on your wallet. In any event, we cruised by in our gas guzzling Allegro Bay while not a single resident said so much as a thank you for helping them tolerate such an incredibly ugly part of the world. We were pretty happy to leave the area in the rear view mirror.
As late afternoon approached, we had only a few towns over the last 150 miles to choose from to stay the night. Fortunately we were going to make Van Horn, TX before nightfall and they appeared to have several RV parks in the area. We pulled into the local Love’s Truck Stop and filled up for the 3rd time that day (you’re welcome Odessa), before driving down Main St. Van Horn to Mountain View RV park I have to admit that Van Horn was way nicer than either of us expected. Apparently the surrounding Davis Mountains are quite attractive and a substantial tourist draw in the spring, summer and fall. There were literally dozens of nice looking mom & pop hotels, restaurants and other attractions up and down the street – and the place was clean – not an easy thing to accomplish in west Texas. We were quite impressed.
We had called and left a message for Mountain View earlier in the day, but celebrating New Year’s Eve may have started early in Van Horn as there was no one in the office. We joined 2 other RV’s in using the after hours sign in (you either leave them a check or your credit card info in an envelope for the next day) and chose a nice spot where we didn’t have to unhook the car.
The slides worked fine and the front left jack came down, but not without further complaints. In a typical Murph & Jill New Year’s Eve extravaganza, we weren’t going anywhere. I think Jill treated herself to a white Kit-Kat (her dirty little secret), while I warmed up some great pre-cooked pasta and knocked back a glass (actually plastic) or two of Charles Shaw’s finest vintage. We listened to a little Van Horn radio, read a bit and headed for dreamland by 9:00.
What a couple of party animals.