Sunday, April 27, 2014

Arizona vacation with Mom: Reality bites!

Forward: In case you haven't figured it out, I don't post real time on the travel blog. It's a security/paranoia thing. In fact I'm way behind on posting some trips and this one was taken a little more than a year ago now.

Mar 29 2013 Fort Stockton, TX
OK, I left the house this morning on my way to Arizona for a vacation with my Mom and as I’m driving along it strikes me; I’m going on vacation with my Mom!  What was I thinking?!!!!
It all started innocently around the first of the year when I was on the phone with her. She told me about this trip she was going to take to Arizona in early spring with the senior group. She and Dad used to spend winters camping out west after they retired, much of it in Arizona, and she thought it would be nice to go back and see a few of the old places again. A month or so later she told me that the trip wasn’t going to happen because something came up and her travel partner couldn’t make it. I made the appropriate sounds of regret and we hung up.
A couple days later I had this highly questionable good-son moment that just so happened to coincide with a bout of temporary insanity, in other words a brain-fart, and I picked up the phone to call her.  She answered and I blurted out, “Hey Mom, what if you go ahead and fly out to Phoenix anyway and I meet you over there and the two of us can take your trip?”
There was this moment of stunned silence, on both our parts, followed by sounds of shocked surprise and delight; on her part.
Anyway – that’s how I came to be on the road today headed off for a week-long vacation with my Mom who's old enough to have a child that can draw from their 401k account without incurring any early withdrawal penalties. (I’m certainly not about to give out her actual age here, she still packs a mean punch!, So I'll let you do the math. . .)
I try to avoid San Antonio when I can, (For some reason they built the freeway system there with no acceleration/merge ramps. You actually have to come to a stop at the end of these short little angled connectors between the frontage road and the main lanes and then try to jam yourself into highway speed traffic. It's almost like pulling out of your driveway straight onto a freeway. It’s asinine and scary as hell!!) so I headed west through Austin instead.
Over the years Austin has seen some tremendous growth and the constant road construction that comes with it. One area of which is the US71 & I35 interchange which has been under construction for about 10 years now and still is. I don’t get over here much but it’s getting better, very slowly. Except that a few miles west of here, where US71 and US290 split and go their separate ways, that intersection is still untouched and still a bad choke-point. I wonder what they’re waiting for??
Anyway, I had a fairly leisurely drive through Johnson City and Fredericksburg, both interesting places to visit, but not on this trip, before hitting I10 at a no-name spot in the road about 30 miles east of Junction.
Starting just east of Junction, and going for quite some way, I got to watch a major new high-voltage power line being built alongside the freeway. There’s not much in the way of population out here so I suspect the power lines are for carrying the wind-generated power of West Texas back to the population centers in Central Texas.
Construction was at different stages along the way so I got to see the entire build process compressed into 40 miles or so. Freshly cleared right-of-ways; concrete footings being poured; piles of steel sections that will become massive towers being trucked into place; towers being erected with impossibly tall cranes; massive pulley’s being lifted up to the arms of the towers; cable being laid out and pulled through the pulleys off of giant reels; and the final work of fastening the cables in place with insulators. It was pretty interesting.
My destination for the day was just somewhere down the road. Being Easter weekend I was expecting to spend the night in a truck stop somewhere but as I went past the Fort Stockton RV park just east of the town of the same name it looked like they had plenty of room so I went to the next exit, made a U turn and backtracked a few miles.
The creosote was blooming and ‘perfuming’ the air heavily and they regretted that the restaurant was closed because the cook was off for Easter weekend, but there were plenty of sites available.

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