After our two-week delay in Albuquerque we decided to throw a couple of our travel rules out the window in order to catch up to our itinerary. We opted to keep and only slightly bend the “no more than 200 miles per day” rule and temporarily discard the “no fewer than 2 nights in each place” and “never travel on Sunday” rules. We have found that we definitely prefer the shorter travel days and the shorter stops to the longer travel days with two nights between, and although it is easy to get into a “hurry up and get there” mode, at this travel speed we still have time to stop and see the sights along the way. It’s still about the journey, not just the destination.
Because we had already driven over three hours from Farmington to Albuquerque to pick up the RV, we decided to make our first official day back on the road a short one. Twenty miles down the interstate to Isleta Lakes RV Resort turned out to be a really good idea, as we needed to clean out the mess in our thawed freezer, reprovision ourselves, and have a celebratory date night to commemorate being back on the road. The Isleta Lakes Casino Campground is beautiful, if a little on the pricey side for us, but a perfect choice for our first night back. And the Embers Steak House on the top floor of the casino with the Albuquerque lights in the distance was wonderful.
Right after Christmas we purchased a New Mexico State Park pass with the intention of using it frequently while we were still home-based in Farmington. It will save us $10/night every night we camp in a New Mexico state park, and at the senior resident rate it will be paid for after 10 nights. Well, things didn’t work out as we expected, and we didn’t get to use it, so we wanted to hit at least one state park before we crossed over into Texas. We won’t be back in the state until next November, but we should get our value out of it in the month before Christmas.
Our second night out was at Percha Dam State Park. We chose a spot in the primitive area closer to the river. Free boondocking! Brings our nightly average back down to a comfortable range). Percha Dam is a beautiful park, extremely quiet, but points off for goatheads. Percha Dam is downstream from Elephant Butte and Caballo Dam in the Rio Grande system, and with no rain or snow this year, by the time the river gets to Percha it is barely a trickle.
We were scheduled for two nights in Marathon, Texas before we reached Seminole Canyon State Park on the US/Mexico border near Del Rio, so we reduced Marathon to one night and looked for a one-night stop in between. We settled for Van Horn, Texas, and because they advertised “Church by the Pool” on Saturday night, we chose the Oasis RV Park. This way we could still do church this week even if we were traveling on Sunday.
Van Horn isn’t much more than a wide spot, and Oasis Park is, in the owner’s words, “the oldest crumbiest park in town, but we love you and we’re glad you’re here.” There were several year-rounders but the whole place was absent the usual feeling of dereliction found in some of these older parks. By evening the park was full, and there was lots of random socializing going on. Everybody was extremely friendly. One of the residents raised chickens and sold eggs to passers through. They also had an old ice cream churn and sold huge bowls of delicious homemade ice cream for $3. “Church by the Pool” was conducted by the owner, who witnessed about his recovery from alcoholism, his call to witness for Christ and to be of service to the people of Van Horn, Texas (he is also the RV mechanic, tow-truck driver, and proprietor of Van Horn Taxi.) A true cell-church experience, where two or more are gathered. We had neighbors who said that the only reason they could think of that they were there was to meet us, and we were able to share NOMADS with them. God was definitely on site.
The last stop on our whirlwind stint got us to Marathon, Texas, and also got us caught up with our itinerary. The Marathon Hotel and RV Park was about a mile outside of town, far enough to boast truly dark skies. They have a resident amateur astronomer, Bill, who owns some really impressive equipment, and while everybody else in the camp was attending the Super Bowl party, we were looking at the Orion Nebula and Betelgeuse through a 24” mirror telescope. I learned a lot about Zodical Lights (a conical glow over where the sun sets) and that all the planets are rotating around the sun on the same plane (I know it always looks like that in the illustrations, but I never thought about it before). A magical night.
The town of Marathon itself was charming, with an elegant old hotel downtown, upscale shops and galleries, and the beautiful Gage Gardens, 27 acres with formal gardens, a putting green, ponds and fountains, and an open off-leash dog area.
There were a lot of places we didn’t get to this year, most notably Big Bend National Park, Davis Mountain State Park, and we would like to come back to Marathon when the gardens are in bloom, so we will be taking this route again, more slowly, another year.