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Eastbound on I-10 on the Way Home
tbutler posted a blog entry in Tom and Louise on Tour in North AmericaWe spent Sunday night at the Wal-Mart on the north side of Tucson. Monday morning we were out just after rush hour. Making the turn from traveling southward from Oregon, we now turn into the sun in the early morning, heading east toward Texas. Traffic through Tucson on I-10 is heavy but not as bad as some city driving. About 30 miles out of Tucson the traffic begins to thin out and travel becomes easier. Tucson isn't far from the eastern border of Arizona so we are quickly into New Mexico and the switch to Mountain Daylight Time. Our day is suddenly one hour shorter which adds some incentive to keep the wheels turning. Travel is relatively easy as we pass many little dots on the map, small towns in a sparsely settled part of the country. The passage over the continental divide is as easy on I-10 as anywhere in the US. If there wasn't a sign you would not suspect that you have passed over the divide. We've never stopped to see the THING! We laugh about it every time we see all the billboards and maybe some day we'll pass by here on a more relaxed schedule and make a stop just so we can see the THING. Las Cruces is the largest town on this stretch of I-10 until we reach El Paso. I-25 joins I-10 in Las Cruces and the traffic increases, more cars and lots more trucks. This is the warm up for the passage through El Paso. There is a loop highway around El Paso and the traffic is lighter but we seldom take that route. Looking at a map, we should make that the regular route through the area but it seems that I-10 just holds on to us and we stay with I-10 through the city. At Las Cruces the I-10 turns southward and it continues right along the southern border of the US south of El Paso. Looking over the Rio Grande River in the area, you can see the mountains of Mexico. We began to encounter scattered rain showers along this stretch and those stayed with us through the rest of the afternoon and evening. One of the bonuses of driving in rain showers is rainbows. Since we are driving east in the afternoon, the sun behind us shines into the rain shafts ahead and we see some specatcular rainbows against the dark sky of the next rain clouds. The colors are really vivid when there is a dark sky to contrast with the rainbow and we thoroughly enjoyed a variety of views during the afternoon and evening hours. Traveling east, I-10 joins I-20 at its western end at mile marker 186 near the town of, well there isn't a town anywhere near. Kent is seven miles west of the junction so I guess that counts. It is about this point that we transition to Central Daylight Time, losing another hour of travel time. Staying with I-10 we continue on to Fort Stockton. Our first choice for a campground is no longer in business so we continue on through town to a one-time KOA, now Fort Stockton RV Park. It is just off the highway on some terrible road that only gets worse as you enter the campground. We arrived well after dark and had to pick our own site from the two or three that were available. We picked our way along the muddy roads to find a site that would work. Louise helped position the coach by letting me know when to stop to stay out of the road. The site looks like the toad is still in the roadway behind us but it is a wide roadway. In the morning I could see that it really was clear, what looked like road was just a muddy rocky part of the site. Clearly this was not a deluxe site. It was quiet and dark and we slept well, got showers and emptied the gray water tank before we left in the morning. We woke to the sounds of rain on Tuesday morning as a series of showers passed over us. A check of the radar showed that we should take advantage of the brief break in the storm to disconnect and get underway as a more steady rain was approaching us from the south. Back on I-10 we drove in a steady rain for about two hours before breaking out into sunshine. We made a stop for fuel at the Tres Amigos quick shop. I'm finding that stopping at small fuel stations has a fun side. There was a work crew at this one, filling up their trucks. One of them struck up a conversation and expressed his appreciation for our motor home. He had time for half a dozen questions before his tank filled. Diesel at $3.599 looked pretty good for the area but I got only 35 gallons which would get us into San Antonio where I expected cheaper fuel. We would get into San Antonio before nightfall. San Antonio would be an overnight stop for us. About an hour down the road we pulled in at the Segovia Truck Stop and filled up with diesel at $3.399, Saving 20 cents a gallon on 75 gallons amounted to a savings of $15 from what it would have cost at the Tres Amigos. We didn't see fuel any cheaper than the $3.399 for the rest of our trip until we pulled into the Wal-Mart in Edinburg. Thanks to Gas Buddy for helping us find this bargain. We pulled into the Cummins Southern Plains on I-35 at 4:15 in the afternoon, checked in and parked for the night in front of their shop. We unhooked the toad and backed up to the building. We were parked between the building and the I-35 access road, less than 300 feet from I-35. When local traffic on I-35 slows down it is quickly replaced by the over the road truckers. The whine of truck tires is nearly constant through the night. The next morning we turn over the keys and head for the Cracker Barrel next door. After breakfast we return to the motor home and relax waiting for the service tech to show up and run us out of our home. We've been making this stop a regular for many years. It is a last service stop before we park the motor home for the winter. I like to park with fresh oil and clean filters for the engine and the generator, ready for the next season of travel. No matter what direction we are traveling we'll usually come through San Antonio and since this shop is just a few miles north of I-10 and on I-35, we manage to be near it almost every year. Purely by coincidence our best friends were at Iron Horse RV just 5 miles north. After a series of phone calls, we decide to do lunch on the River Walk together. We picked them up and spent a pleasant afternoon together. The BBQ at the County Line Restaurant was good and the walk was welcome exercise after four days of near constant driving. We enjoyed the shops of the Little Village and the fun of watching the birds and the tourists. As we were returning to the car our friends got a phone call from the repair shop, their replacement air conditioner was installed and working. When we returned to Cummins we were told that they had discovered a leak in the gaskets on the exhaust manifold. I asked if they could be replaced and they gave me an estimate. I authorized the repair realizing we wouldn't have time to make the 200 mile drive to our south Texas home that afternoon. We would be a day later than we had hoped in returning home. We called to let our friends know. We decided to join them at Iron Horse after our repairs were completed. I had noticed some water leaks in our new windshield when we traveled through the rain showers the day before. They were just little trickles but they shouldn't be there. I had the windshield re-sealed at Iron Horse late in the afternoon. We would overnight there, pay the bill in the morning and be on our way south in a two coach caravan with our friends. Thursday morning we left Iron Horse at 9:00 . From I-35 we take the I-410 loop south to I-37 which is the Interstate route to Corpus Christi. The ramp to southbound I-37 was closed so we had to divert onto I-37 N and do a U-turn which added about 5 miles to the trip. US 281 departs I-37 where the interstate turns southeastward. We stopped in George West for a quick lunch stop. Then we were on the road to Edinburg, Texas, our winter home. We parted ways with our friends at Edinburg. They wanted to stop to fill up their tank at Flying J. I had decided to get diesel at the Wal-Mart since we also needed some groceries. Louise would shop while I filled the tank and added the stabilizer to the fuel. Diesel was $3.329 at Wal-Mart. Our friends joined us for dinner at our campground that evening. Home at last!