We left Austin feeling like we had done it right and headed west. West Texas is a whole lot of… well nothing, aside from one nice little town we just carried on highway 10 until we were out of it. At which point we reached El Paso Texas. El Paso is an interesting city because it literally sits on the border with Mexico. It must be very strange to look across a river each day and see a completely different country. I know people do it in Europe but this is a closed border. Apparently it used to be quite casual crossing the border and then 15 years ago or so everything changed and all these people who used to go back and forth for work or family were suddenly cut off and either had to wait in massive lines each day to cross or had to find new work on their own side, I imagine most of the collateral damage was in Mexico. We didn’t linger in El Paso, to be honest while lovely enough it’s not a particularly safe or culturally rich city. We hit Planet Fitness for our workout and shower and headed north on a fruitless search for a lost Atari landfill.
The Atari landfill is some sort of super nerd legend that Jonathan knew about (I don’t even remember Atari), apparently they made millions of copies of an ET game to go with the release of the movie and it was one of the biggest gaming fails in history and essentially brought about the collapse and end of Atari. They threw all of these unsold games into a landfill in central New Mexico. Why? How? Where? No idea, nor did we ever find out. Even though there was a massive hoopla about it in their teeny tiny desert town less than one year ago no one seemed to be able to point us in the right direction of the landfill, we eventually had to give up. We also managed to stop at White Sands National Monument which is very random and very alien area in the center of the desert where white sands from a millennia ago is piled up in dunes for miles, Gogi particularly enjoyed himself here. To continue our “Tour of the Strange” we detoured up to The Very Large Array, yes that is the real name. The Very Large Array is a group of 27 or 32… I can’t remember the exact number, satellites that were built in the late 70s that can be transformed and rearranged to create one very large satellite, the largest in the world in fact. It was cooler than it sounds I promise. You might know it from the film Contact or a Bon Jovi video perhaps? Great photos, if my camera hadn’t died, merde.
We cut through Albuquerque to catch Walter White’s house and another shower at Planet Fitness (a great deal at 20 dollars a months get both of us access to any Planet Fitness in the nation), then disappointed with the lack of charm we left to get to Flagstaff to meet my sister and go the Grand Canyon.
I guess the most important thing we got to this week was the fact that we went a whole week without plugging in or paying for any campground, sure we slept in 2 car parks but the rest were legitimate free sites. We parked in beautiful places for free and twice we even had a grill provided. We managed to dump our tanks after a week and while they were full they weren’t overflowing and we had enough water. Planet Fitness is a big help because showering costs us a lot of water and fills our grey tank quickly. But at least we know it can be done without problems (though not at 8,000 feet as our generator wouldn’t catch, but that was the only time we tried to use it). We’ll get solar panels eventually but at least we know it’s not urgent. We’ve once again had a slight change of plans, the Southwest is far larger than a girl from Ohio and a guy from England could imagine, distances are massive and we’re going too fast to try to keep up so we’ve pushed back our dates in New Orleans to give us a bit more time before we have to be there, so we’ve added on Vegas (where I write this) and a bit of Colorado, lucky us.