– Roswell, New Mexico to Denton, Texas –

Well, getting in so late and going to bed around midnight last night caught up with us. When our alarm went off this morning to get our butts out of bed and go run, we just couldn’t do it. It was still dark out, and we were just not in the mood. Six hours of sleep is not enough to convince yourself that you should get out of bed and exercise, no matter how much you normally like to do it. We went back to sleep for another half hour before we finally made it out of bed.

By then, it was too late in the morning to go run and still make it home at a reasonable hour, so we showered and had our La Quinta breakfast and hit the road. I was pretty sad about it, as I love to run, but sleep was just way more important this morning. We’ve been having some really long days on this trip. yesterday was especially busy. When we get home, we will need a vacation from our vacation. Too bad we are teaching a two-day event instead.

Telling Ripley to sit for pictures in Roswell

After we left, we stopped back in downtown Roswell for some daylight pictures of Ripley with the decorative aliens. Roswell is hilariously full of alien-themed art, so we didn’t have too much trouble finding something fun to take pictures of. Ripley didn’t mind because she got treats. She’s usually down for anything when food is involved.

From Roswell, we took 380, which as I mentioned yesterday, we took all day today. We don’t go home that way very often, so while the scenery was essentially the same as any other scenery heading back from New Mexico to Texas, the towns and stops were a little different, which was a nice change.

The Tacoma at Mescalero Sand Dunes

Just outside of Roswell, before we crossed the border back into Texas and lost another hour, we stopped at the Mescalero Sand Dunes. There’s a recreation area there that is operated by the Bureau of Land Management that offers more than 600 acres of sand dunes for ATVs to play on. We’ve driven past before, but we haven’t ever actually gone down into the area to take photos. The roads leading into the park are meant for real vehicles like ours, but the dunes are only meant for 4-wheelers and dune buggies. We wouldn’t have driven over them anyway, but it is worth knowing if you ever decide to visit. The dunes are a strange sight along the road in what feels like the middle of nowhere. I wasn’t able to easily find out how they ended up there, for some reason. Maybe with a bit more research I will know for sure.

Once over the border into Texas, we stopped at the old Kent County Jail in the now-defunct town of Clairemont. We’ve seen old buildings like the jail there many times, but none that still had the insides intact. The offices and cells can still be seen inside the jailhouse, and visitors can just walk right in. It is on the register of historic places in Texas, but it doesn’t really seem like anyone controls or maintains it, so I guess nobody really cares what you do to it. It is certainly filled with graffiti on the inside, though markings on the outside have clearly been removed by someone, though it is unclear who might have done it.

Old Kent County Jail

The historical marker sign says, “Built, 1894, of red sandstone quarried nearby. Horse and cattle thieves, murderers, moonshiners most common prisoners. One of most difficult West Texas jails from which to escape. No attempted break successful. Recorded Texas Historic Landmark, 1965.” Clairemont, the ghost town where the jail resides, died in the 1950s, when the county seat was moved to Jayton. Years earlier, the railroad had bypassed the town, but it survived for a while longer before finally dying. Now there is nothing left, save for this jailhouse and the remnants of the old courthouse, which mostly burned down not long after the county seat moved. If you are curious, there’s a huge list of old ghost towns in Texas. I had no idea we had so many. Don’t tell Mark there’s a list, or we might end up trying to see all of them.

We drove on from Clairemont, and another oddity of 380 hit us- there aren’t any Walmarts on 380 between basically Roswell and Graham. Isn’t that crazy? We needed to stop and buy snacks for our event, since we hadn’t had time before we left on our trip, but there just aren’t any Walmarts, and that’s where we wanted to go to get bulk boxes of chips and cookies. I guess Brownfield used to have one, but it went out of business. I can’t believe there are places where Walmarts go out of business. We stopped for our lunch just outside Brownfield. They had a grocery store, at least, and we were out of yogurt.

Inside the old jail

We stopped again in Aspermont for Dairy Queen ice creams. It’s actually a little hilarious how many tiny towns in Texas still have a Dairy Queen, and it will be the only thing there. Aspermont isn’t quite that small, but on any given drive through west Texas, you are bound to see town after town where the biggest shop of any kind in the whole place is the Dairy Queen, which is as old as the hills and constantly packed with locals. This one was relatively quiet, but it was about 3:30pm on a Tuesday, so you can’t expect too much from it.

From Aspermont, it was still about 3 hours home. We stopped for dinner just outside Denton at the Panda Express in Decatur. I don’t know what it is lately, but we have a minor obsession with the mixed veggies and steamed rice from Panda Express. I think it is actually one of the healthier fast food meals we can get, since for a lot of places, the vegetarian option is some sort of grilled or fried cheese. Eating with chopsticks in the car can be a challenge, but we persevere without resorting to forks because we are masochists.

Dairy Queen (The Texas stop sign, as they say)

We made it home before 8pm, which isn’t bad it all. It’s been quite a trip, with most of the days being quite long. Tomorrow morning we have to get up early and drive to Frisco for our Software Carpentry event. Spring Break this year didn’t feel like much of a break. At least I get Friday off. Mark has to go to work, since he’s out of town part of next week.

I think our next trip will be down to the Texas coast sometime in April. We haven’t really been down to the beaches since Hurricane Harvey, and we aren’t really sure what to expect of some of our favorite places. I know Mustang Island only recently reopened to the public, but both Mustang Island and Port Aransas have been begging tourists to come back for spring break, since the water and beaches are once again some of the cleanest in the state. Infrastructure in the area is still damaged, from what I understand. I guess we will know more next month, as will you if you follow along.

– Trip Total : 2,492 miles


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