From 8/29 to 9/12, we were off the road. We spent the Labor Day holiday at Lake Texoma for the 13th annual Festival of the Testicle (which involves a deep-fried main course not on my personal menu), and had a good time with family and friends. Unfortunately one of us still has work commitments this year, so Cyndi flew home to NJ, where she had to start teaching the Tuesday after Labor Day, 9/4.
I stayed in Oklahoma for a while, visiting family in Shawnee and going to the County Fair. My niece’s team won a horticulture judging contest and I briefly entertained a fantasy of moving to Wyoming to become a goat farmer. I headed back to the Lake, and after an unfortunate fish hook accident that involved a trip to the ER, got the RV ready for another round of travel.
On the 12th, I left for a trip to Carlsbad Caverns National Park. First stop, Abilene, Texas. Setup went well, but after a few hours, my house A/C started making a horrible banging noise. To avoid being expelled by my neighbors, I turned off the A/C and opened the windows. Sometime after midnight, it finally cooled off enough so Sunny and I could sleep. Next morning, Cyndi tried to get me in for service in Carlsbad, where they were booked through October. Luckily, in Abilene, I found Curtis at Franklin’s Big Country RV Outlet (which looks like a movie set western town, complete with faux saloon). Curtis had an empty bay and a new fan blade, and I was on the road again within an hour and for less than $150.
Google maps routed me down state highway 176 to Carlsbad. On a map, this road appears to be logical and direct, if a little squiggly. In reality, this is a highway from (to?) hell. The road runs through miles and miles of oil fields in west Texas and southeastern New Mexico. It’s crowded with oilfield trucks, all of whose drivers are going 75+ on a 65 mph speed limit two-lane road and were constantly either tailgating or passing me. Because oil field trucks and equipment are very heavy, the road is pockmarked with giant potholes and is (at its best) long stretches of rough asphalt. At one point, the road disappeared entirely, having been demolished to be reconstructed. I waited for twenty minutes in a line of trucks for a pilot car, which led us through gravel, dirt, and soft sand for over two miles. The plan for the day had already been ambitious – 300 miles, solo – but wound up being pretty challenging. Nonetheless, I arrived on 9/13 at the Carlsbad KOA, which is very nice, but despite its name, about 45 minutes from the Park itself.