Tag Archives: El Paso

Around El Paso

Mom and Dad with Mex in the Franklin mountains outside of El Paso

On top of Scenic Drive in El Paso, Texas, overlooking Juarez, Mexico.

Here are a few tips for El Paso before I forget. The Scenic Drive is really nice. It curves around the south of the El Paso mountains and these pictures are all taken from there. Do NOT change money into pesos at the bank. Go to Melek’s service on the corner of Mesa & Paisano near downtown. We got 10.65 pesos per $1 there which was a peso better per dollar than the bank.
In between Mom and Mex’s heads you can sort of see the Mexican flag. The flag is 162 feet by 93 feet and it is called the “Megabandera” or “Giant Flag.” The flag pole sits in Chamizal Park, which is right across from the Bridge of the Americas, (the free driving bridge), and is 339 feet high and weighs 110 tons. That is 22,000 pounds! (Probably necessary to handle the hurricane force winds around here!) That is Juárez in the background after the little park on the right of Mex. We spent some time shopping and went to a few cowboy boot stores (we are in Texas, after all) but, really, I just don’t find them comfortable. Mostly, we just drove around the city completing errands. The information in our hotel said it was possible to get a driving pass from the Mexican Embassy but that is NOT true. We waited in line only to be told they stopped doing that the first of the year and you can only get passes in Mexico.

You can faintly see the cement canal that is the Rio Grande thru the middle of this picture.

There are multiple ways to cross into Juárez from El Paso… you can take a walking bridge or a round trip trolley or drive on four different roads. The tourist propaganda in our hotel makes Juárez sound a lot
better than all the stories I’ve heard.

I did try to fix the lens on my camera to get rid of these spots
after I downloaded the pictures and saw them. However, every time I zoom in to something I get these stupid spots. Bad timing to have a broken camera!

The view from Scenic Drive looks very pretty at night. As we pulled off to take in the view we clearly interrupted a couple who was sitting in the back seat of their car, “enjoying the view.” Oops!  You can kind of see the snake of lights through the city which marks the border. We did drive along the border highway and saw the fences… All three of them with barbed wire on top and paths in between them for the border patrol vehicles to go. Did I mention the millions of watts of floodlights pointing towards Mexico? Very, very interesting. There is a Border Patrol Museum here but we decided not to go. I can’t imagine what would be inside! I just imagine some kind of grotesque trophies of people caught or something. Ugh. (In hindsight and looking at their website it probably would have been interesting. I’d say “maybe next time” but I don’t think we will ever be visiting this area again).

For dinner we took a break from the steakhouse scene and went to Olive Garden for our “last supper.” We both figured we should load up on salad before crossing the border when fresh produce is one of the things which we are supposed to stay away from if we want to avoid stomach problems in Mexico.

View from Scenic Drive at night. All those lights are Ciudad Juarez

Well… on another note…  tomorrow we cross. We are both trying not to think of it. We’ve had a really good time with my parents and it has helped us relax which has been a blessing. They did talk us into staying in Juárez over the weekend instead of making the five hour drive to Chihuahua City and back before his interview. Even if we have to stay in the hotel all weekend it would be better than risking something happening to us so he couldn’t get to the interview that we’ve waited two years for. We will miss mom and dad and it will be very emotional to cross over the bridge tomorrow. However, we are confident that on the afternoon of April 17th (the day of his 2nd interview) we will be back again on this side of the river.

My next entry will be from Juárez, Mexico and I suppose in honor of the occasion it will be in Spanish (as long as my husband tells me what to type).

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Filed under Travel outside MN and Mexico, Travel Tips

Texas, New Mexico, Texas again

What could taste better than the state of Texas?

Standing next to the poster for one of the greatest "tween" dramas ever... Or at least my Olaf girls thought so.

Texas is a very odd shape (as you can tell by the Texas waffle I had for breakfast this morning). We spent the last night in the “panhandle” in Hereford, TX and then drove thru New Mexico via Roswell and are now in our hotel room in El Paso. New Mexico was pretty uneventful. A few amazingly huge cow pens owned by Cargill. Seriously, probably 10,000 cows in pens alongside the road. It was crazy! Even though they were in an open pasture area there were more cattle in one spot than I would have thought possible.

Terrified by the very realistic alien bodies

While driving through Roswell we made a quick stop at the Roswell UFO Center.  Check! Yes, it is actually another of the “1000 Places to See Before You Die.” The Roswell UFO center was very cheesy but mildly interesting for anyone who likes a twist of science fiction in their life. Of course, no actual pieces of wreckage from the famed 1947 UFO crash just outside the city were in the museum. However, there were dozens of testimonial letters from people who have been abducted by aliens all over the world! My guidebook did say it was free but it isn’t. It is $5 for adults, $3 for seniors and $2 for kids 5-15. It was good to get out of the car and it wasn’t that far out-of-the-way.

Mom and Dad thrilled (not so much) to be at the UFO Museum in Roswell, New Mexico

South of Roswell, going thru New Mexico, we passed some more scrubby brush territory along Hwy 70 but then we went into some small mountains and the road wound thru groves of pine trees and little towns with very traditional southwestern architecture… arches and red and brown stones. I’m guessing this was in the Rudoso Downs area but I wasn’t looking closely at a map. There was a beautiful little church in this small town plopped in the middle of nowhere framed by the hills and pines. It was so nice but we couldn’t pull over to snap a picture because someone was behind us and there were no shoulders. Sad! those simple glimpses of local beauty are my favorite travel moments. When we turned south on Hwy 54 we passed the White Sands National Monument but did not stop. We could see the white dunes glistening in the distance. If I had looked closer at a map ahead of time I would have tried to figure out a detour to get us there because it looks like a very uniquely beautiful park with over 245 square miles of gypsum dunes and it even has a 16 mile loop drive so it would have been perfect for the four of us road trippers. Oh well, gotta have something to do in the future.

So after 23 hours of driving in the car we ended up in El Paso. As we drove down the hill and into the city we saw the largest flag (Mexican) I’ve ever laid eyes on flying high over Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. We have it in our sights I guess… Tomorrow we just plan on finding somewhere to get some pesos and maybe buy a few more things before going across on Thursday.

Sad, our hotel is by the airport and about every 30 minutes it sounds like a jet is going to crash into us. So much for getting to town late and being stuck in a cheap hotel! Good night everyone.

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Filed under Travel outside MN and Mexico