Q.E.D – 4500 miles Completed in 5 Months

A very pleasant drive from El Paso across the Southern edge of NM brought me home at something like 2 PM on Sunday, Nov 13. I really like Route NM 9 as it has extremely low traffic, no trucks and cuts many miles off the traditional path on I-10, though the pavement can be a little rough in some areas.

I noted one illegal on the road, very bedraggled and trying to wave down a ride or perhaps just water. However, I did not stop as I was afraid that he might by a decoy for smugglers or drug runners. I did stop and report his location to the Border Patrol. Otherwise I would have given him water, but no ride.

Interestingly, there were three (that I could see) Army support locations on the highway, each comprising a couple of armored vehicles bristling with antennas. Apparently the Army is supporting the detection of illegal traffic in some manner. That is certainly a positive note. Each installation also had the presence of Border Patrol vehicles.

My, I have a lot of work to do! My desert (read ‘dirt’) yard and driveway are overgrown with tumbleweed-like and size dead plants. I did finally got all appliances and facilities up and running, except for one toilet that is suffering from some dried seals. No evidence of disturbance anywhere. Heck, no sane person would wade through the brush to get to the house! I now have to clean the house, clean the outside, restock and replenish. I will be weeks before I get everything back to normal.

Annie the Dog was very quiet the last day. I wonder if the magnetic sensors in her bird brain were telling her that we were nearing home?

I is nice to return with no mechanical breakdowns of significance in Barth. Although this trip was less than half as long as the 2004 trip, there was ample opportunity for breakdown, accidents, etc.

I had great luck on the trip. I did manage to get myself into a few unpleasant navigational situations, but an answer was found in each case. For a final example, in El Paso it is very difficult to find the way out the West side and into NM to get on route 9. I had a map from a fellow at the gas station, but it turned out to be much too generic. What he showed as a big bend in the road turned out to be several miles of turns on different roads. But at least it got me to the general area on the right side of town.

When I got lost, I stopped at a gas station and went from car to car asking for directions. I came upon an older fellow that started to tell me, then said “follow me and I will show you.” I informed him that I was in a neighboring store parking lot, so he said that he would meet me there. He did so, and led me to the road to NM 9, and made one final indication to turn left. And voila!, I was on my way. NM 9 is a well kept secret, primarily because no one can find it on the El Paso end.

I found folks to be very helpful the entire trip. All things considered, a good and successful adventure. I saw much of the West that I had never seen and some that was a refresher of past visits, all in the Winter.

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Arrival at El Paso, TX

Where is El Paso, TX WallyWorld?
Driving an uneventful route from Abilene, I arrived in El Paso at dusk. Unfortunately, it was too late for me to navigate satisfactorily due to my limited night vision. However, I did find a big-rig friendly station with diesel on the North side of El Paso. There I got directions to a Walmart about a mile or so near. and made a bee-line for it, as bee-line as city roads permit. After recovering from an unintentional diversion through a residential neighborhood, WallWorld looked very friendly indeed.

After having breakfast at the embedded MacD, I was off to… HOME!

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SOAPBOX: Mechanics

Many auto mechanics are generally ignorant, inept, uncaring or fraudulent, depending on how vindictive ones feels.

I have had a really bad oil leak in Jeep for 10 years, from one to two quarts per tank of gas. I knew it was a leak, not a matter of burning the oil, because of the obvious puddles under Jeep.

When I arrived in Austin, I noted that a vibration that was minor was now major. So I took Jeep to a mechanic recommended by my niece’s husband, Jose. He recommended Ed’s Automotive in South Austin.

There I met a nice young Latino man named Sebastian, I believe, that quoted a fair priced and quick repair of the drive shaft U-joints. While Jeep was on the rack, I asked him about my oil leak, citing my history. He took a 5 second look, and said that I might have a small leak at the rear main bearing, but there was a large leak at a gasket near the front of the engine. The cost of the repair would be $118. Now, having had quotes from at least six mechanics that assured me that I had a rear main bearing seal leak of the range $600 to $1400, I thought a $100 gamble on Sebastian’s different diagnosis was worth a shot.

Jeep has not dripped a drop of oil since Sebastian replaced the gasket. A gamble that paid off.

Now, one can not help but wonder where the head of the other mechanics over the last 10 years was located. Were they incompetent or lazy? Were they just wanting to make the expensive repair, which would not have solved my leak. Were they wanting to repair the real leak and charge me for the expensive main bearing seal repair?

One will never know, but none of the answers are acceptable, and are indicative of a significant sample of mechanics, at shops that ranged from a dealer to the small one-man shop. I have been taken by mechanics. I have had a few great mechanics, but my impression are that most are either too stupid to be a mechanic, or they are fraudulent.

Had I been sure of his success, I would have snapped a picture of Sebastian, and given him a tip. He would have deserved a significant tip for being the one mechanic that I wish I had encountered 10 years ago.

Hat’s off to Sebastian at Ed’s Automotive in Austin!

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Arrival at Abilene State Park

Where is Abilene State Park?

I arrived here 5 minutes after the checkin booth closes, but they were on the way to their car, and said to park and come back in the morning, which I will do. The drive was uneventful, except for the wonderful BBQ lupper I had in Brady, TX. Great sandwich on homemade bread, huge and perfect baked potato, and a RC Cola, I thought RC Cola was non-existent, although I had them as a kid.

This CG is not great, as I could not use a good site and also have a shot at the internet satellite. But I am on the ‘Wagon Wheel, which may be visualized exactly as the name sounds. The good thing is that no one else is on the wheel, at least not now.

The map software had me on county roads with low and side swiping trees, knocking my right mirror out of kilter as I stared into a blinding sun, but no permanent damage. I tried to follow the instructions, and actually did stumble onto the park. But the better route would have taken me to Abilene, then South, and I would have arrived after dark. So my cursing of the map software was really for naught, as it really saved me.

I was late arriving because I used three hours-plus in a stop at LBJ Ranch, taking the Ranch tour. Not an exciting tour, but one has to do the sightseeing thing occasionally, at least.

For practical purposes I will probably stay here for a week, but I doubt there is a lot to do but to relax.

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Austin TX Visit

Where is McKinney Falls State Park?

I arrived at Mckinney State Park on Sunday, Oct 30. It was a short drive from Georgetown. The park is fairly nice, though a bit pricey. Weather was nice for the entire week, having cooled from a late season heat wave. I will spare the day-to-day details, and make one entry for this stop.

I got to see my Grand Nephew, is that right? Anyway, Celso is my niece Susanne’s son Celso, a chipper fellow though a bit camera shy. He usually goes on serious alert whenever a camera is brought near him. Here is a photo at 4 months:

They visited at the RV Park and we went on a walk with Celso.

I spent quite a bit of time at the home of Susanne and Jose and watched in amazement at the process of preparing for their move to Spain very soon. I offered to help, but could find nothing to do. More complication to the process was the line of friends and an old uncle that strayed in and out at will! But they seemed to be taking the process in stride, unrattled.

They were arranging for shipment of a car, a few furniture pieces, household items, clothing and of course baby support accessories. The house has sold, the second car sold while I was there, and a garage sale netted several hundred in cash. It must be difficult to rid oneself of so many of one’s possessions in such a short time frame! That is when one wonders why so much of it was ever purchased! I saw no lists! I would have had so many lists that a list of lists would have been necessary.

Well, Sus is off to a Fantastic Adventure in Spain, husband Jose less so since he is from Spain. I wish them well in their life ahead, and Jose’s good fortune in whatever business adventure he embarks on. That I do admire their spunk because I tend to like adventures also, though relocation out of the US is not one I have experienced.

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