January 03, 2014

by Stephen Jan in Phoenix, AZ

Time: 12 Days

Distance: 3,083

Odometer: 309,370

With our car troubles behind us, we were looking forward to smooth sailing to Phoenix Arizona.

The drive would take us across Texas, through a corner of New Mexico, and plunge us into the heart of Arizona.

  1. Eunice, New Mexico
  2. Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico
  3. El Paso, Texas
  4. Tucson, Arizona

We pulled into the Eunice, New Mexico, Allsup’s parking lot sometime around 1AM to stop for the day. Unable to stay sleeping in the freezing cold, I woke up at around 6AM and to loiter in the shop to keep warm. The talkative cashier lady asked me what I was doing there. I told her I was waiting for my team to wake up. She asked me where we were headed. I spent a moment to describe our project to donate an ambulance to South America. Her reply was “Oh you’re hippies!”.

Minden stop

Carlsbad Cavern is a national park founded some distant past. I had never heard of it until Mike brought it up. We took the car up a narrow but scenic trail to the mountaintop visitors center. The cavern was pretty cool, you can hike to the depths of it and back out, which takes a couple hours. But if you’re smart, you’d just take the elevator.

Minden stop

While you’re up there, food options are pretty limited. The cafeteria entices visitors by proudly brandishing samples of “local” cuisine. I’m surprised that there is such a thing atop a mountain but who am I to judge? Apparently locals eat quesadillas, burgers, and hot dogs. I ate locally opened tinned sardines a la instant noodles. I drank locally brewed and ground coffee that I brought from New York.

Minden stop

In New York, many BBQ joints tout their authenticity by drawing roots back to the south, like Texas. El Paso was 2 hours from Carlsbad Caverns so we naturally had to stop and find a BBQ joint. According the radio station KLAQ, Rudy’s BBQ got a thumbs up. We weren’t disappointed. At Rudy’s brisket and ribs are ordered by the pound. If you’ve ever been to Hill Country (http://www.hillcountryny.com/) on 26th St, you’ll be familiar with the way it works. For seven dollars, Mike somehow managed to pick up a feast including half a chicken, 2 sides of beans and complimentary rice crispy treats. The Rudy’s BBQ stop was a definite win.

Minden stop

Minden stop

12 days on the road, 6 hours to Phoenix, start line finally within sight.