Friday, November 6, 2009

Abilene TX to Carlsbad NM

Wednesday 3 November

We started out the day driving away from Abilene KOA about 9 AM and began a new book on CD – David Baldacchi’s First Family. The miles clicked by as we drove dead west along I 20. Remarkably we had good cell service all day until we left the Interstate. Jane checked in with her Mom who was getting ready for the first Lady Vol’s ball game this week.

We stopped for a picnic lunch before arriving at the Permian Basin Petroleum Museum in Midland. The terrain today was mostly flat with some rolling hills – all covered with low brush, prickly pear cactus and occasion trees. Off and on there was a mesa with the same vegetation. There were also occasionally wind farms as far as the eye could see – we could count 20 to 30 wind turbines in rows and were unable to count how many rows. We were surprised by the cotton fields – there were many and they were in the process of picking so we observed several picking machines and saw some already loaded and packed into bales. There were also numerous oil wells along the road – sometimes a lone pump and then an area with them as far as the eye could see. The Midland and Odessa area in particular had numerous mechanical and drill support businesses. We observed no signs of a depressed energy business in this area.

Wind Turbines and Cotton Fields

The Petroleum Museum was very interesting – we spent about 2 hours there viewing various exhibits on old and new oil drilling technology as well as lessons on how the oil was formed. They had commissioned Tom Lovell to paint a series of 14 paintings depicting history of the area with emphasis of course on the oil industry. They were outstanding. Outside the museum was a collection of oil derricks and other equipment. All in all it was a great and enjoyable learning experience.

Oil Derrick and Walking Beam Pump at Petroleum Museum

We then headed to Odessa where we hoped to visit the Presidential Museum that included information on the United States, Republic of Texas, and the Confederacy Presidency (it has collections of campaign buttons, and much more) and included the first home of George HW Bush. Well, we saw the home of the Bushes; but the museum was closed with only a sign on the door.

First Home of President George H W Bush

We did get to visit and view on the University of Texas of the Permian Basin Campus a replica of Stonehenge. The horizontal dimensions are correct and the vertical dimensions are at 70% of the original. It was constructed from 20,000 lb limestone slabs from a nearby quarry.

Jane at Stonehenge Replica

We then started west again having decided to continue on to Carlsbad instead of stopping at the Monahan Sands State Park as we had planned. GPS Lady said it was 125 miles and it was 3:30…however we were going to gain an hour since Carlsbad is on Mountain Time. Shortly after giving us this vital information GPS Lady began giving us low battery readings. Even when we connected her directly; she kept getting lower and lower in volume. Finally we turned her off and returned to our tried and true - Jane reading the map for directions to Carlsbad. We turned north off of I 20 on 285 and cross 80+ miles of very desolate country. Two tiny crossroads with no businesses and we finally crossed into New Mexico and finally arrived in Carlsbad.

Desolate Country on way to Carlsbad

We turned down the road that would lead to the National Park in the morning and about 5:30 just as it was getting dark we arrived at Carlsbad RV Park and Campground. Our plan had been to drive up to the park just for a day so Jane had gathered no information …just like the old days before internet – go and see what you can find!!! This is a nice park – even has an indoor swimming pool. The internet signal is rather weak which may be due to lots of users. I may be able to post this blog but am fairly sure I will not be able post photos. Next time we have good internet I will upload some more photos.

Note – if driving and using a GPS you may want to have a spare fuse for the charger – that was what was wrong with the GPS. We have tried replacing it with the one in the cell phone charger – maybe it will work tomorrow and maybe not…we should be able to buy replacements when we come to a truck stop when we get back to the interstate…lesson learned – carry a spare!

Tomorrow we explore Carlsbad Caverns. Ben probably more so than Jane!

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