grandson mason

grandson mason

grandson jaxson

grandson jaxson

Sunday, April 11, 2010

01-09APR10 - El Paso, TX (fort bliss)

Thursday, 01APR, we got a very early start (at least for Dan) to avoid the predicted high winds that were supposed to develop. Enroute we drove by Guadalupe Mountains National Park, but did not stop. Many people have recommended the park as one of the most beautiful but least visited in the park system. Part of the reason it has so few visitors is that is not on a major road, & the nearest town is Carlsbad, NM, over 30 miles away. We hope to find time to visit it one of these days.

We did encounter some high winds on the road, but had no problem driving. We checked into the Fort Bliss Army RV Park just north of El Paso at lunch time, & soon the high winds really hit around 1400. We have been here before back in FEB05 on a short RV trip in our old gas RV. We stayed at Fort Bliss on one leg of that trip, & Hueco Tanks State Park & Historic Site (highly recommended) on the return leg. After setting up camp we decided to make a quick run to the BX on base - big mistake! Since Fort Bliss is supposedly getting 30,000 more troops, it appears the entire base is under renovation or construction (including the world’s largest BX); along with the approach roads to the Base gates. To top it off, we got caught in a major traffic jam as everyone was trying to get off base at the same time! Long story – short, we never went back to the base again.

Friday morning we headed to the National Border Patrol Museum & Memorial Library Foundation, which was right next door to the El Paso Museum of Archaeology. Both these museums are small, very interesting, & free. The border patrol museum once again shows that bad guys can be exceedingly creative in developing means to achieve their goals no matter what the good guys do. The archaeology museum was a very good overview of the various Native American people that traveled through the area & those that establish long term settlements, finishing with the Pueblo culture. The archaeology museum is surrounded by nature trails, where we viewed the Mexican Poppies (aka California Poppies) in full bloom across the landscape.

Friday night we headed to Cattleman’s Ranch for dinner. This is a working ranch & restaurant that Dan has heard about from several acquaintances that have visited El Paso. It is literally in the middle of nowhere about 25 miles out of El Paso. This is definitely a restaurant based & centered on beef. The restaurant is also part museum, petting zoo, movie set & hotel to add even more reason to drive all the way out here, other than the excellent food.

Saturday morning we headed into El Paso for some exploration. A very unique thing to El Paso is the Golden Horseshoe. If you didn’t know, El Paso is on the border immediately next to the much bigger city, Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. For decades Mexicans have crossed the border on foot on the bridge at El Paso Ave (or Stanton St), walked up El Paso Ave (or Stanton St) to do their “American” shopping, made a U-turn, continuing their shopping down Stanton St (or El Paso Ave), & finally crossing back into Mexico on the other bridge. Needless to say, Anglos & English speaking persons are the minority on the golden horseshoe.

In addition to Dan’s usual tracking down of “eccentric sights” to photograph (including the rare Uniroyal Girl), we also discovered that the USBC Women’s Championships were going on for the next 3 months in El Paso! This explained the huge piñatas in the shape of bowling balls & bowling pins we kept running across.
Easter Sunday we took the Trans Mountain Highway across the Franklin Mountains enroute “old” Mesilla in New Mexico. The highway is a very scenic drive through the largest urban state park in the USA (Franklin Mountains State Park). The state park is supposedly world renowned for its mountain biking trails & rock climbing. Mesilla has been absorbed by the town of Las Cruces, but still retains the original town square & many original adobe buildings from the 1800s. We arrived just as Easter services were commencing. The crowd for mass spilled out of the church and onto the steps. We found an open café for a light breakfast on the patio, before touring the open air market on the square. After a very relaxing morning in Mesilla, we returned to El Paso on scenic Highway 28 south thru the extensive pecan fields & vintners back to El Paso. Then we took Rim Drive to Scenic Drive on the south end of the Franklin Mountains for great views of El Paso & Ciudad Juarez, before calling it a day.

Unfortunately Monday, 05APR, Dan had to fulfill a consulting obligation for a company called CRA. This meant he was back in the rat race for five days, while Corrie was on her own. But it was still better than having Dan out of town the whole time. Two other unique diner experiences we discovered were Doner Kebab & Hello Pizza. Doner Kebab is a Turkish “fast food” very similar to Greek gyros, that immigrated to Germany where it exploded to being sold on almost every corner. Upon learning that a restaurant called Doner Kebab had just opened next to Fort Bliss, Dan headed right over to get two for dinner – they were excellent!

Wednesday night we headed to Hello Pizza for a Pizza Garzing invented by Larry Gold. Larry is from Brooklyn and invented a dough that is flavored with garlic & habanero; & you can only get with a cheese topping. Larry supposedly won top National honors, & 5th place in international competition, at the International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas in early March as reported by local TV. Hello Pizza is definitely a hole-in-the-wall, and it turns out we ordered the last Garzing pizza before Larry ran out of the special dough that night. Although it was not on the menu, Dan ordered an egg cream soda; Larry was so impressed that Dan knew what an egg crème was that we ended up discussing our time on Governor’s Island & NYC pizza in general. We are not sure if it is the best, but it is one of the better NYC pizzas we have had (and to think it is in El Paso of all places!)!

Friday morning Corrie took the Toad into the local GMC dealer to get two minor problems fixed, some lights on the radio were burned out & the heat wasn’t at full strength. Naturally the repairs took all day & we got the Toad right before closing time. Later that night Dan decided to test the entire radio system & discovered the AUX portion did not work! So that means first thing Saturday, 10APR, we will be sitting at the GMC dealer rather than getting on the road first thing as planned.


Chuck and Anneke's RV travels said...

Did you stay at the ranch for the sunset?

Corrie, Dan and Gumbo Ryan said...

we did view the sunset after our dinner. unfortunately our window seats were looking south rather than west and we could not view it from our table. but we did stand out in the parking lot & watched the sunset, it was beautiful, before driving back to the RV. - corrie & dan