27 driving hours, 1900 miles, three overnights. Tulsa, Lubbock, Deming. I arrived a day ahead of booking at Rusty's mid-morning Thursday. "Pretty Girls" by Karin Slaughter read through my truck's speakers kept me rolling, and when that audiobook ended I mixed southern rock with another chapter of Nick Offerman's "Paddle Your Own Canoe", a heaping helping of wisdom with the subtitle "One Man's Fundamentals for Delicious Living".
Chicagoland to Tulsa, Oklahoma was uneventful; my road miles stamina was fleeting at best. Day two's accomplishment halted in Lubbock, Texas, a South Plains town perhaps best known as the birthplace of Buddy Holly. It is the northwestern part of the state, south of the panhandle and I woke Wednesday morning within striking distance of Rusty's RV Ranch, but my reservation wasn't to begin until Friday. I decided to head towards Las Cruces, New Mexico and decide then whether I would continue west. The day would become hot, in the upper 80s, and under a mostly cloudless sky I drove on past arid grassland oil pump fields, which occasionally were interrupted by areas of cattle lands. Lubbock connects to Roswell, New Mexico by Highway 380 after passing last through Plains, Texas. I found this stretch to be "Antelope Road".
Groups of Pronghorn were abundant. Technically not antelope at all, these beasts are a perfect example of parallel evolution. Americans named them that due their identical niche and resemblance to Old World antelope. Pronghorn are actually members of the giraffe family and are most closely related to that long-necked mammal and the Okapi of central Africa. They are more distantly related to deer and bovids including cattle, goats, sheep and true antelope.
I paused to photograph the unsurprisingly UFO-themed Roswell welcome sign, but passed quickly past its alien-centric gift shops, book stores, International UFO Museum and restaurants (including a flying saucer shaped McDonalds) and headed west toward the Sierra Blanca. I could have descended southwest on Highway 70 to have more of a crow's flight toward Las Cruces, but by chance decided to stay on 380 and pass through the mountains on what I would learn was called Billy the Kid Trail. I confess I was clueless that I would stumble upon the late 1800's frozen-in-time town of Lincoln, a town made famous by one of the most violent periods in New Mexico history. Here was the epicenter of the Lincoln County War and famous and infamous characters of the Wild West including Pat Garrett and a man born Henry McCarty but known as William H. Bonney or Billy the Kid. During a pee break at a roadside historical monument on the other side of town I also learned that this was an area where Japanese railroad workers were held in encampments after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
The third day's shunpiking was beautiful and took in an area of New Mexico I had yet to travel. Highway 380 continued through Capitan and on to Carrizozo before joining 54 and returning me to familiar roads as I headed south through Alamogordo and on toward the Organ Mountains and Las Cruces. I passed by Holloman Air Force Base and heard overhead fighter jets on my way past White Sands National Monument. Last year I had stopped year and played in the gypsum dunes, but this time I cruised on past having decided to drive on to Deming, New Mexico before bringing the last full day of driving to a close. Deming isn't even two hours from Rusty's, so I was hoping that a phone call the next morning would get me onto the ranch one day early. When I got Rusty on the phone after a shopping trip at Deming's Wal-Mart, she said, "come home".
I had no idea what to expect when I returned to my Wheelhouse. All winter I worried that I should have set mouse traps. Scat proved that at least a few little rodents had sought refuge in my rolling home, but the RV was no worse for the wear. In fact, it smelled fresh and was remarkably clean. For two days now I have gone about the business of rigging and reorganizing, sorting and stowing. I best get back to work.