Interstellar Adventures

February 16, 2006

Vuelva del El Paso

Filed under: Uncategorized — by InterstellarLass @ 9:13 am

It was difficult for Nick to leave his dad. Pop is one of those old-school tough guys. He’s 85 years old, lives alone, is 99% deaf, and all his family has left El Paso. And, despite offers from all the family to move closer to them, he refuses. He’s self-sufficient. El Paso is his home. It’s what he knows. It’s all he’s known for nearly 70 years. He was a man that worked with his hands. Hard work. And he’s not going to let anyone move him from his home, either to an assisted-living facility or nearer to his family. His house, his haven, his security.

We took Pop for breakfast before we headed out. I was tired of Mexican food by now, and after chips and queso and beers during the Super Bowl, I opted for fresh fruit, granola and low-fat milk for breakfast. Nick and Pop just looked at my breakfast plate and laughed at me.

My guys. The mountains leaving the neighborhood. El Paso’s largest and finest video store for adults.

Headed back home, we enjoyed the scenery of the desert mountain region of Texas. Nick said “It’s just dirt!”. I on the other hand thought it was beautiful. The massive boulders and hills that were so tempting to climb. I even saw my first roadrunner! Meep! Meep!

Rocky Terrain. Roadrunner. Pink cactus.

About an hour after we left El Paso, we got pulled into a Border Patrol inspection station. The highway was blocked off, and all vehicles had to exit. I took a few pictures. Nick and I both decided it wouldn’t be a good idea for me to hop out and try to get a picture with the Border guard. One of the vehicles ahead of us got pulled to the side for inspection. When it was our turn, they asked “US citizens?”. “Yes sir.” was our reply. Then he waved us on.

Inpection Station ahead. Selected for inspection. Border Patrol.

Our final view of the mountains.

Nick did most of the driving on the way back. I only drove for a couple of hours. So, I got in a lot of Sudoku, a bit of knitting and a good nap. We ate on the road from our picnic basket, only stopping for the potty and gas. We also made a stop at one of the many cotton farms along the highway. The cotton had been picked, and many of the farms had re-plowed their fields already. We saw lots of bales of cotton waiting to be picked up and taken to the rail stations. I’ve seen raw cotton before, but never on the plant. So, we stopped when we saw a bit still on the plant. It was right by the side of the highway access road. I didn’t figure the farmer would mind since it’d already been harvested and this was just extra stuck to the plants. I jumped out and picked a bit. It was very soft. There were hard lumps in the cotton, which are the seeds. And it was a beige-ish color. I don’t know why I thought this was so cool, but it made me happy! The other big thing we saw along the way besides cotton farms and oil fields were wind farms. All around the Midland/Odessa area, there are windfarms on a long, high mesa. Giant windmills, absorbing the energy of the wind.

We made it back home just three minutes over ten hours total drive. We would have made it in under 10 hours had my gas light not come on and had Nick not needed to potty.

Overall, I enjoyed the trip. El Paso is a city with a lot of history. And, the desert was beautiful in it’s own way. But I don’t know about it’s future. The military base is the only thing there. If the base were to close, there wouldn’t be a lot else to keep people there. The official US Census in 2000 had El Paso at a population of 563,662. But there were a lot more people there than that, I can assure you. There is very little zoning in El Paso, so there were residences next to businesses all over the place. And there were some businesses (exotic-type clubs) in strip malls next to doctors offices in neighborhoods.

El Paso seemed more like the US suburb of Mexico than it did an American city. I was greeted in Spanish everywhere I went. I felt like more like the alien that didn’t belong there. I was stared at as an outsider in my own country. And I have mixed feelings about that. I had a previous post about the bilingualization of my own city in far North Texas, away from the border. Directly on the border, at least 1 in 4 cars that I saw had Mexican license plates. Nick has related a story to me of buses that drive up to the border-crossing walking bridge and pick up children from the Mexican side of the border that we then educate in our US taxpayer funded schools. At dinner Saturday night, we didn’t get good service at the restaurant. At one point I wondered if the reason was because I was Anglo.

I’m still thinking about how I feel about this. On one side I love to explore other cultures. I want to know their history. And the US is a place where people can come to make new lives. But when they come here just for the money, don’t keep up their homes, bring crime to our country, and don’t put forth any effort to learn the language, or become active in the community or the society, then I have an issue.

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