Tag Archives: Border Patrol

Mexico? No thanks.

Arizona morning

The sun shone through the clouds as we made our way out of the campground and to Carlsbad, New Mexico. Arizona, along with most of the Southwest, had some pretty interesting landscapes. There were always mountains in the distance, but not a mountain range. Just randomly placed mountains. And not really any grass either. Just dirt and shrubs.

And giant cacti. And no people. And no water. And a lot of sun. And misery.

To be honest, I liked it. I wouldn’t live there, but it was a cool place to see and visit again. If it was between there and Toledo.

Because it’s so flat in the Southwest, it makes rain very¬†deceiving. As I mentioned in an earlier post, there is a rainy season in the Southwest. No winter, spring, summer or fall – just the dry season and the rainy season. We were there during the rainy season. This means that it normally rains once a day or so in quick spurts – not miserably pee on you for ¬†6 days straight like it does up north. So as we drove along the highway, we could see rain clouds dotting the landscape. We could see for miles and miles, so we’d see rain that never even got close to us but drenched a large area of land.

It’s not like here in Pennsylvania where the weather is pretty much the same across the entire state. It took me a while to realize this, just long enough for my aversion to driving in thunderstorms kicked in.

When I was done silently weeping at the thought of driving in a thunderstorm I realized we had a strange route ahead of us. We entered New Mexico from the west, and were going across the state. But the fastest way to get there was to go down south into Texas and then back up north into New Mexico. As we entered Texas, we drove through El Paso. For those who are unaware, El Paso is on the border of Texas and Mexico. The city across the fence in Mexico is called Ciudad Juarez, and we had a perfect view.

It looked dirty and scary.

That was the closest I’d ever gotten to Mexico. To this day I pray I never have to get that close again. I saw one murder and three stabbings in 12 minutes. And somehow got high.

Screaming in terror from the sight of Mexico, we got off the highway for a less traveled state route back up to New Mexico. We barreled down the road until we came to an odd structure where we had to stop. As we got closer, we realized it was a Border Patrol station. Which was weird, because we were about 50 miles from the border. My guess is that if someone is sneaking into the USA, they’re not going to wait 50 miles to get off of the main road. Just a thought, border patrol.

So for the second time in three days, my car was searched for weapons and drugs. The dog didn’t find any drugs, and luckily, Carlos – who we had hidden in the backseat – kept quiet, so we were free to go.

We stopped at a rest stop to eat and let Carlos run like the wind. Here’s our view – it’s like where we stopped in Iowa but hotter and no corn or water and with dirt, shrubs and a mountain in the distance. So basically the same.

TexasBetz peed on the pavement like a dog and we made the final leg to Carlsbad Caverns. About 30 or 40 miles from the Caverns, the landscape had FINALLY changed. We were going through a mountainous area with great views of the land around us. As I gaped at how far we could see, I turned to see Betz asleep. Poor guy missed the one and only exciting part of the drive.

His loss.

We got the Caverns, parked, and made our way into the Visitor’s Center. After seeing rock and dirt all day, we made our way to mouth of the cave to hike through more rock and dirt. But this time it was dark.

And with lots of fat people.

 

Are those carrots from California?

The final day was here and I couldn’t have been happier to finally be arriving in La La Land. Not that the trip was going poorly, but over seven hours in the car each day doesn’t exactly bode well for personal hygiene. Or lumbar support.

We headed out of Williams and towards beautiful Southern California. Jokes on us though, to get to Southern California you have to go through Eastern California which is comparable to the setting of The Hills Have Eyes without deformed hellbent mutants trying to kill you for no reason.

As we entered the final state of our trip, I finished strong with state welcome signs:

REALLY?! Eleven states later and I still didn’t learn to turn HDR off.

A few minutes later we encountered something in California that we didn’t elsewhere in the country – in order to cross the border into the state you have to go through a “border control” that checks to make sure you’re not bringing in any foreign plants or animals to the state that can harm the ecosystem. Surprised? Neither was I. Hippies.

After convincing the border control lady we didn’t bring in any carrots from Colorado we drove the few hours into the city. Finally, after 7 days and over 50 hours of driving, we got our first glimpse of the City of Angels:

I was elated to finally be there. As expected, it was sunny, warm, all was right in the world.

As the trip entered its last 20 miles, I reflected on everything that I’d experienced over the past several days. Things that many people never get to see in their lifetime. It made me realize that this country truly is amazing. Lampshades in Toledo, Chicago, the Great Lakes, vast cornfields, the Midwest, Omaha, the Badlands, the prairie, Mt. Rushmore, the Black Hills, Wyoming (even Lusk), the Rockies, Denver, I-70, Arches, the Southwest, the Grand Canyon, Los Angeles. And it’s not just a gorgeous place – it’s incredibly diverse. Every area where we stopped seemed like it could be a country in itself. The people we met were all so different that you’d think they could never live in the same county. Yet they do and, at the risk of sounding cliche, together we form the melting pot that makes America so great.

What makes it even greater is that I knew I was doing it all over again in two months.