Started here:

Pecos, Texas
Missing States I
Day 4 - Tuesday, May 9, 2006
Ended here:

Carlsbad, New Mexico

T o d a y ' s    N a r r a t i v e
Kinda late getting started this morning. Great sleeping weather, around 60. So The Navigator and I slept in for awhile.

Last week before the trip I had the oil changed in the van at (where else?) Wally World. They said I needed wiper blades and an air filter. I was in a hurry and didn't do it then. Yesterday afternoon it rained and new wiper blades became a priority :)

So we stopped at the Wally World in Pecos. Gotta be the smallest Wally I've ever been in. Just merchandise, no grocery. But they had the blades and filter I needed.

Yesterday I commented that Pecos seemed kinda rundown and boarded up. I got to talking with the cashier at Wally. She's lived in Pecos all her life. I asked about the condition of the town. She said that there used to be a large sulfur mine here and the town revolved around the mine. When the mine closed down, so did the town. A shame.

We continued on US-285 and then took a right on Hwy-302 to go visit the bustling metropolis of Mentone, TX, located in Loving County, the least populated county in the US. And Mentone may well be the least populated town.

I went to the Post Office while there and had a nice conversation with Phyllis, the part-time Postmistress. She said the town's population is currently 11. That conflicts with the web site link above which reports an estimate of 50. But I trust Phyllis' count. She named all 11 people that live in town :) She said there is no mail delivery because everybody in town lives within three blocks of the Post Office. The P.O. Boxes are free. She also said that the surrounding towns of Porterville (see church pix below), Arno and Juanita had disappeared. Interesting place. If you are a loner, this should be your home town :).

We drove the six miles back to US-285 (Mentone is sorta out in the middle of no where :) and continued on to Carlsbad Caverns. There's a pix of the sign below. I took several pix of the caverns but none of them turned out well enough to post. A combination of low light, an inadequate flash and an inexpensive camera. Go here on the official web site for awesome pix. Much better than I could ever do :) The walk through the cave was interesting. But, excuse me for being cynical, once you've seen one cave you've pretty much seen all the caves. Nice but nothing spectacular.

I had planned to drive up to Roswell, NM this afternoon and camp at a Wal*Mart. But driving through Carlsbad, I noticed a Motel 6 that offered free Wi-Fi access and rooms for 30 bucks. So that's where I'm sitting now. Unplanned. But The Navigator is curled up sleeping on the bed, the air conditioning is nice and a hot shower and shave will feel good in the morning.

FWIW, today I saw gas over $3/gallon for the first time on this trip. Right here in Carlsbad, NM it is $3.069/gallon.

A word about the "Other" expenses listed below. $22 for the stuff for the van, $10 to buy a passport to all the National Parks. The admission to Carlsbad Caverns was $6. So for $4 more, all the parks are free. And $4 for the kennel for The Navigator at Carlsbad Caverns. Not a bad kennel. All National Parks should have kennels!

Tomorrow: Roswell, the UFO Museum and then Westward again.

T o d a y ' s    P i c t u r e s
Click on a pix for a larger view
Now entering Loving County, TX. Prepare to feel lonely :) Mentone, TX with a gas station and courthouse. The courthouse. Directly across the street, the post office.
This church is two blocks behind the courthouse. This plaque is attached to the church. Interesting. Hey June! Withdrawal is over, here's a sign for you. Doubleshot. A bonus sign!
New Mexico even tells you what it costs to speed. Notice the sign has the obligatory bullet hole :) Entrance to Carlsbad Caverns.

T o d a y ' s    S t a t s
Begin: 11:00am
End: 7:00pm
Net (includes stops): 8 hrs, 0 mins
Begin odometer: 156,070
End odometer: 156,215
Net miles today: 145
Average MPH: 18.12
Total trip miles: 1,920

Gasoline: $70.00
     Price: $2.879/gal
     Bought in: Pecos, TX
Food, ice, etc.: $15.00
Lodging: $30.00
Other: $36.00

T o d a y ' s    T h o u g h t
More ponderings from Dorothy in SC:

If a deaf person has to go to court, is it still called a hearing?

If you drink Pepsi at work in the Coke factory, will they fire you?

Why are you IN a movie, but you're ON TV?

Why do people pay to go up in tall buildings and then put money in binoculars to look at things on the ground?

How come we choose from just two people for President and fifty for Miss America?

Why do doctors leave the room while you change? They're going to see you naked anyway.

If a 911 operator has a heart attack, whom does he/she call?

Why is "bra" singular and "panties" plural?

Do illiterate people get the full effect of Alphabet soup?

T o d a y ' s    J o k e
From Denise in IN:

Mexico has been struck by an earthquake measuring a strength of 8.1 on the Richter scale. Many millions of Mexicans have died, and several million are injured.

The country is totally destroyed and their government doesn't seem to know where to begin with relief efforts.

The rest of the world is in shock at the devastation.

Canada is sending troops to assist the Mexican army in controlling the riots; Saudi Arabia is sending oil. Other Latin American countries are sending what supplies they have available. The European community (except France, of course) is sending food, clothes, and money.

The United States, not to be outdone, is sending twenty million replacement Mexicans.

God Bless America!

N a v i g a t i o n
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