finding fun in Las Cruces & oil in Texas

Rick showed us all around Las Cruces!

It’s so fun to be back out and about! Saturday we were still in Benson, AZ, so we decided to explore the nearby town of Bisbee. Years ago (when I was a sophomore in high school), I went on a bicycle tour around the Tucson area, and I vaguely remember riding through Bisbee (notable because it’s built on a long, steep hill). All I really remember, besides the hill, is thinking that it was a cute place. And it is! So cute! What was even more fun than driving and walking around the town was randomly discovering that it happened to be the day of the Tour de Zona – a bike ride that includes Bisbee! Seeing all the cyclists everywhere brought back so many memories! Deron and I (and the pups) had a great calzone at an old gas station which has been converted to Screaming Banshee Pizza (the pups just had a little cheese and some water), then found a cool Bisbee magnet, and bought some delicious pastries to go at Patisserie Jacqui. Because we had to hit the road again on Sunday, we spent the evening patiently enduring the spotty internet connection while we watched church online.

We arrived in Las Cruces, NM, Sunday afternoon – and boy did we luck out! The RV park we randomly selected is up on a hill with a great view, and we were parked right on the edge. So pretty!! On Monday our old home-group friend Rick Sousa came over, and after a tour of the coach and some time catching up (Rick sold his El Cajon home and moved to Las Cruces five years ago), Rick took us on a fun tour of the town. First we viewed his beautiful home, and then toured his neighborhood. A few of the neighbors Rick has met are former Californians; as we were driving past one such neighbor’s home, Rick noticed a CA license plate, and so we pulled over and started conversing with a gentleman who happened to be in the driveway. It turns out the homeowner had passed away, and this gentleman had come from San Diego for the memorial. He lives in Allied Gardens, not far from our old home in Santee, and his wife taught for years at Cajon Park School, right down the street from where we’d lived. Such a small world! As we finished our conversation and expressed our sympathy for his loss, he decided to give us some of his special spice blend that he sells, made from the chilies he grows in his yard. Another small world experience – many of you know that Deron makes a highly sought-after spice rub that we give away for Christmas every year. Unfortunately, all of our spice rub was back in the RV, so we couldn’t return the favor. Next Rick took us to a fabulous lunch at DH Lescombes Winery & Bistro; then we walked to Mesilla Plaza, which features beautiful old architecture on buildings dating back to the 1930s. Finally, he drove us all around the New Mexico State University campus, where he went to school years ago. Such a fun day with a good friend!

From Las Cruces we headed through El Paso, TX, where we could see right over the border into Mexico, and passed the big, red X sculpture – “Monumento a la Mexicanidad” (Monument to the Mexican People), which stands for the crossing of Spanish and Indian blood. Tuesday and Wednesday we stayed in super gusty Van Horn, TX. Fortunately, there is nothing to do in Van Horn (other than hope the RV wouldn’t blow over), because a couple of business items came up that needed to be taken care of. First, when we arrived, Deron noticed a few drops of oil on the Honda; sure enough, it looks like there’s some type of oil leak in the RV. UGH!! Since we just spent a load of money getting the engine pretty much rebuilt, the first thing Deron did was send the San Diego mechanic a picture of the area of the leak. Thankfully, they are standing by their work, and offered to pay for three hours of labor at a mechanic near our next stop, so we could get a diagnosis and determine the next steps. So that meant contacting our next RV park to change our reservation from Thursday and Friday to Thursday only, and booking a hotel for Friday, so we could drop the RV off Friday afternoon and pick it up Saturday afternoon. Second, Deron got a scan from our mail service and discovered he has jury duty in Texas later this month!! Fortunately, we were already going to be staying one night in Polk County, where the jury service is, and the date he needs to check in is only ten days later, and we haven’t made any reservations anywhere after that. So, he simply changed our one-night reservation to a two-week reservation. While we’re there, we’ll pick up a bunch of mail and packages, which will enable Deron to work on a few more RV improvement projects as he’s waiting for his jury date.

As you can imagine, running into yet another mechanical difficulty was disheartening. I was so discouraged Tuesday night! But Deron and I spent a long time talking and praying, so that by the time we went to sleep I felt peaceful. The next day I was so much more hopeful, but Deron was discouraged, so it was my turn to encourage him. It’s funny; that’s often how our marriage goes – when one of us is down, the other is able to bring hope and encouragement to the situation, and vice versa. I love how that works!

One of the difficulties we run into occasionally is the timing of check-outs and check-ins. Thursday and Friday were those type of days. Thursday’s check-out time was 11:00am, and our destination in Fort Stockton was a little over two hours away, but the check-in time there wasn’t until 2pm. Even after taking our time and stopping for gas, we arrived about 20 minutes early. They had a self-check-in packet ready for us, but thankfully the office worker arrived soon after we did, because he ended up wanting to put us in a site other than the one on the packet. So that worked out. It was a very basic RV park, but with a nice hilltop view out over the desert, and featuring various metal cutout sculptures. We spent the evening figuring out all the details of Friday’s RV drop-off and hotel check-in, because our check-out time Friday morning was no later than 11:00am (the packet stated they check the sites at 11:35 and charge $5 per half hour beyond the check-out time), and our drive to the mechanic was one hour, but our check-in time at the nearby hotel wasn’t until 3:00pm.

We ended up killing enough time Friday by stopping to unhook the Honda, dropping off the RV and talking to the mechanic, eating lunch, and buying and installing a new battery in the Honda – so we arrived at the hotel in a timely fashion, at about 3:15pm. However, after we checked in and headed into the building, we ran into the cleaning lady, who was just arriving outside our room. Ha! So much for great timing. We ended up killing more time by driving around a little, and then gassing up the Honda. Now we’re all set for the night; the dogs have learned to love hotel stays, so they’re definitely all on board. The brief conversation with the mechanic was encouraging; from what he saw he thought it looked like an easy repair – we’re hoping we’ll get a call in the morning that it’s all fixed and we owe nothing because they finished within the three hours the San Diego mechanic is paying for.

As of now, we’re planning to pick up the RV Saturday and head out, slowly heading further south to Galveston, and then up to Livingston where our mail service is; we’ve got RV parks booked up through April 23rd. If all goes as planned, Easter will fall during our time in Livingston; it will be the first major holiday we’ll be completely on our own, since we spent Thanksgiving in AZ with the Christensens and Christmas in CA with my brother and family. It will be interesting to research different churches and decide where to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection!

random factoid:

The state of Texas is in two different time zones – who knew? The two counties from the furthest west border are in the mountain time zone, while the rest of the state is in central. As we drove out of the furthest west county, my phone (iPhone) changed to central time. About an hour later, as we left the next county and passed the sign saying “you are now entering central time zone,” the time on Deron’s phone (Google) changed. What the heck? Does that mean if you live in that second county and have an iPhone, the time on your phone is always an hour off?

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