US Road Trip Travelog: 14th March 2005

2½ litres of water (for me), 2½ tanks of gas (for the car), 8½ hours and 500 miles. It wasn't supposed to work out like this during my hours of careful planning yesterday.

The original idea was to do this journey in two stages - Austin to Big Spring in Texas, then Big Spring to Roswell. The drive out of Austin (using knowledge gained from my walk to avoid the I-35) up Highway 71 to Brady is a really nice one. The countryside is, as on the way in to Austin, wooded and hilly and there's very little traffic about. Bikers and sports car owners would love this road, and it's great in the Riviera as well.

Highway 71 west of Austin
Highway 71 west of Austin.

From Brady I join Highway 87 through San Angelo and on to Big Spring. When I get to Big Spring it's mid-afternoon. There doesn't seem to be an awful lot here - this is large-scale farming country - and it's a perfect day for driving, dry and warm with a hazy sun. Decision made to push on to Roswell.

Texas oil pump jack
Texas oil pump jack. Well, I think that's what it's called - it's the thing that nods up and down as it's drawing-out oil, anyway. I'm so excited when I see my first one that I have to get a photo.

Somehow I've managed to miss any oilfields in Texas so far, but there are plenty of these out here. What I didn't realise is that they're dotted around in fields that are otherwise used for crops.

From Big Spring I follow Highways 87 and 137 up to Brownfield then Highway 380 west. When I join Highway 380 I'm not expecting to find that it's still 135 miles to Roswell. The only compensation is that I actually get to see some tumbleweed rolling across the road, though I think even this may lose its appeal after a while.

Highway 380 in New Mexico
Highway 380 in New Mexico. Notice how well my collection of dead bugs is doing. I really must get those screen washers fixed.

For the next few hours the view is pretty much as above. After navigating the roadworks in Roswell I pull into the first motel I see - a Fairfield Marriott, so it won't be cheap but it will be nice - and get a room. After a fantastic peppered steak and a few beers in the Cattle Baron restaurant next to the motel I think I'm ready to rejoin the human race.

The evening news on TV is reporting snow storms further north in New Mexico, with some of the Interstates closed. That seems impossible to believe after the weather I've driven through today.

US Road Trip Travelog: 15th March 2005 >