Friday, December 7, 2012

San Solomon Springs, Texas

Odometer 26,579 miles

Trip meter 132 miles

We literally left Carlsbad RV park without a plan this morning. I know, I know, what were we thinking? Joan and I had discussed the trip the night before, and I had said I preferred to head east on 180 towards Seminole and Lamesa, and staying overnight in Snyder. Joan was looking at going South through Pecos and down to a Texas State Park in Balmorhea, but had not voiced a final decision. Incredibly, we reached the end of the driveway without a plan! We took a quick vote and decided on Route 285 south to Pecos and from there, route 17 to the spring fed pools of Balmorhea. This day starts in a dark mood, brought on by the dog poop event. The RV park at Carlsbad is one of the grittiest we have experienced. The whole park is gravel and dirt. Not just the roadways and parking areas- everything. As I have mentioned before when you live in an RV it is a challenge to keep what's outside- out . This park had so much fine dirt in, and on the gravel and the gravel was so thin that we were loosing the battle big-time. We normally put out two mats outside and one rug inside. One outside mat is an industrial rubber backed 3'x 4' mat, the other is a smallish door mat. So clearly it was time to pull out the big guns. We carry a very large patio mat that is 8'x16', purpose made for this role, it is a heavy green open mesh. As we discover this morning, green was an unfortunate choice of color in a landscape devoid of grass. In an unfortunate turn of events, the doggy donut got folded into the mat, and didn't get discovered until I started compressing it to fit into the storage bay, at which time it squeezed out onto my clothes. So, not a great beginning, and the clean up delayed our departure by about an hour.

Finally we are united in our choice of direction, clean clothes on me, the patio mat washed and stowed, and crusing down the road- life is good. Well, almost. We soon discover that the last 10 miles of 285 to the Texas line is being chip-sealed on a mega scale.

This operation had an oil truck laying out a flood of sealer and trucks spreading gravel at about 5 miles an hour non-stop for 10 miles. Anyone's nightmare but times ten for a bus with at tow car ( know as a toad in RV speak) We were expected to be the rollers that pressed the rock into the fresh asphalt- for miles! I decided to do 35 miles and hour and it would take as long as necessary to get out of this mess. We let everyone get passed us and took our time and we came out relatively unscathed. The chip seal did not end until we got to the Texas border, some 8 to ten miles on. We also have now entered oil country. We have passed so many of the rocking pump jacks that we were not even tempted to count them- but this! This is a new hole being drilled!
This is not the only drill rig we saw in operation either.

This leg of the journey shall become known as the white pickup truck area of the US. Joan and I stared to become aware of the abundance of white pickups, both on the highway and on the side streets and parking lots. The majority of the 4 wheeled traffic was pickups and our guess is that 80 to 90% of those were white- I kid you not. The remainder of the road traffic was semi-tanker trucks, hauling either water or petroleum. We are guessing it's drill water not potable, based on the number of trucks that were covered in a half inch of dust. Chip seal and white pickups, not withstanding, we did eventually make it to Balmorhea State Park and got registered and set-up in camp.

The park has a modern wetland that was created to replace the one that was destroyed by the creation of a giant swimming pool built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) while were based here in the 1930's.
The park has the largest spring fed swimming pool in the USA, measuring 1.75 acres in size and averaging 72-76 degree water, with amazing clarity and color. The pool depth varies from 4 feet to 25 feet. I'll just have to try it out!
After checking out the grounds of the park we decided to give the bus a much needed wash-job. How many times do you get the chance to wash with real spring water! Tomorrow I hope to try out the swimming pool and get some reading and chores done.

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