El Paso, TX (& A Weekend in Colorado)

Almost as soon as our 12 wheels came to a rest in El Paso, Jake was on a plane flying to Rochester, NY to be with family for an undetermined amount of time. One way plane tickets aren’t as romantic when they are being used to fly your life/adventure/candy eating partner across the country, away from you.

Lucy and I spent several days puttering about Dyna just the two of us. Girl party! But not really.

Lucy pouted for a few hours after Jake left, then took over his side of the bed at night and spread herself (she’s put on a few pounds) over his desk during the days.

We caught up on chores. I took long walks through the strangely laid out area of El Paso that surrounded El Paso Road Runner RV Park. I washed Dyna with my fancy airplane washing system. And then washed the Jeep. And then attempted to detail the inside of the Jeep. And then killed the Jeep’s battery when I left it in accessory mode for two days after the detailing escapade because I’m a forgetful fool and rely on Jake to keep my forgetfulness in check.

I stocked up on all the grocery items two girls would need to live without Jake for an indefinite amount of time. Which, apparently, is a bag of bagels, several varieties of coffee, diet cola, a box of Cheez-Its, and cat food. Don’t worry, my candy stockpile remains strong from the holidays.

I packed a bag of essentials (candy liquor and our bathing suits) for a trip to Colorado over MLK’s long weekend that had been planned a few months ago. And I hoped that Jake would get back to El Paso in time to make the trip back to the magical land known as Colorado.

Jake kept Lucy and I in the loop of what was going on back in Rochester, and as the days stretched on and my bagel bag grew emptier, it wasn’t sounding real great in terms of him making it back to El Paso before Colorado.

That was a bummer, but, throughout the whole crap situation there was some good. We were once again reminded that we really did win the friendship lottery. We’re some lucky ass people who have some really great freaking friends in Rochester. They put my heart at ease that Jake was being cared for while he cared for family – and sometimes even stepped in to help lookout for the family. Tricia Coleman, Jeffy, Janel – thank you.

On Thursday, I left our friend (and El Paso resident) Taylor Erdeski with the key to Dyna so she could worship Lucy, and drove the Jeep (with a newly jumped battery – thanks friendly RV park guys!) to Colorado. And a few hours into my drive, in a surprise turn of events, Jake jumped on a plane and flew from Rochester to Denver. We ‘raced’ to the Denver airport.

I won.

And so, Holly’s Magical Colorado Birthday Avalanche Ranch Weekend commenced – with friends flying from Syracuse, Rochester, and Chicago to convene at a wondrous place called Avalanche Ranch for a weekend of festivity.

Holly introduced us to the hot springs on the mountainside called Avalanche Ranch last year. Holly knows about a lot of cool things and places. But this is my favorite place she’s introduced us to so far.

For this Avalanche trip, we packed several extra friends. And also several extra freezer pizzas.

And then more friends that we didn’t pack showed up to celebrate Holly. Holly is very loved.

And the weekend was all hot springs, and libations, and a trip to Aspen, and freezer pizzas, and a piñata, and wigs, and birthday bagpipers, and Colorado splendor, and giggling, and glory. The weekend was good. So so good.

After 3 days at the ranch, we spent one last night in Denver at Holly’s home watching silly TV shows (have you guys seen Broad City? Oh, you have? We’re just incredibly behind on the cool things to watch on TV?), eating Pho and snuggling.

And then in the morning the non-Colorado based crew members dispersed back across the nation to their respect homes – and Jake and I drove back to El Paso together.

The drive was long, and involved multiple cell-service hoarding pitstops as the situation in Rochester continued to require Jake’s attention. After a stop at Whattaburger for dinner, we returned to our sweet Lucy – who appeared well loved and cared for by Taylor Erdeski.

Apparently, Taylor Erdeski’s replacement affections weren’t quite enough for our Queen, and we were required to spend the next 5 days making up for the love we personally deprived Lucy of being gone for 5 days. I guess that’s just life with an aggressively loving cat.

We ended up spending another 2.5 weeks in El Paso somehow. At first it was “let’s just hang here and catch up on work and deal with stuff back in Rochester.” And then it became, well, there are a few things we need to do for Dyna soon, and El Paso has a lot of stores with parts, so let’s hang here til we get that done. And then it was, well, we’re here, so…

Yeah, not really sure how we convinced ourselves to stay here this long. El Paso smells like cheeseburgers and is kind of boring. The air here is also brutally dry which is not conducive to my goals of having extremely luscious lips and supple skin. My inconsistent beauty routine is also not conducive to achieving this goal, but, we’re talking about El Paso right now. It also gets really windy here and that flings dust onto Dyna and I just spent a day washing her – again. And the wind rocks Dyna around and makes weird noises on Dyna while I’m trying to sleep. And also, we just didn’t find much entertainment in El Paso.

I mean, if I’m honest, I don’t think our assessment was entirely fair (is it ever?), as the pull of family needs continued to be a bit overwhelming – so we weren’t fully invested in seeking out activities or seeing sights in El Paso. But El Paso also didn’t take it upon herself to slap us in our faces with fun.

Except for the evenings we spent time with Taylor Erdeski and her partner, Christian. That was fun. They have a beautiful home in El Paso, where they cooked us a fajita feast one evening and let us play with their puppies, which are actually mostly big dogs, but we can still call them puppies I think. We also met Taylor and Christian and a few of their friends (but not the puppies) for a few beers at Tin Man, where the beer taps flowed with a variety of different, delicious options. Taylor also stopped by one evening after she got out of work for happy hour cheese and beer and Lucy worshipping.

On Taylor and Christian’s recommendation, we spent a Saturday morning walking up McGillian’s canyon, and then hiking up at trail into the Franklin Mountains. We got a glimpse of the West that we have been missing.

We got a bit of shopping done that we’ve been putting off – because shopping is apparently a the ‘thing’ to do in El Paso. I think it might be one of the only things to do. There is a lot of shit to buy here, and more stores to buy said shit at than I think I have ever seen in my life.

We found the historic downtown district of El Paso one afternoon, and spent a few hours walking around it. We were surprised to see old store fronts still alive. Alive with (mostly useless) cheap shit to buy. Crap shops and dress shops and tire shops and a convention center and a park or two pretty much sums up what we saw downtown. Which reminds me that Quinceañeras are no joke here. Hence the plethora of dress shops and banquet halls that dot the landscape between box-stores.

We saw one Quinceañera that had at least 10 Maids (girl friends) and 10 Chamberlains (boy friends). Oh, and we found an alligator themed park.

We also drove up and along Scenic Drive Park, and stopped at an overlook where you can see buildings and highways for-almost-ever – all the way through Ciudad Juárez across the border. Juárez is separated from the US by 4 chain link fences topped with razor wire and the dried up Rio Grande. And a very visible border control presence. We didn’t venture over into Ciudad Juárez, although we thought about it and desired to do so. Maybe next time.

So, if I had to sum up El Paso in one word, it would be: “consumerist.”

I am of the current opinion that people probably only live in El Paso if they 1.) are stationed here in the military 2.) have family in Mexico who they visit semi-frequently 3.) like to fly places for very cheap (the airport in Juárez has massively cheap flights) or 4.) really like to buy stuff.

But, we didn’t hate El Paso. I mean, it smelled like cheeseburgers. That’s hard to hate. I love cheeseburgers.

We never felt unsafe, unwelcome, or unable to access a Mexican restaurant. There are a lot of Mexican restaurants here, although they don’t seem to be able to drown out the cheeseburger smell. I wonder if El Paso has a secret cheeseburger factory… anyways…

But we’re just not huge shoppers. Our house is small. And burns diesel. And the added weight of stuff in the wheeled house adds to diesel burn rate. And diesel is expensive sometimes. Just typing this is giving me a Spring cleaning itch…

We’re hoping to roll out of El Paso tomorrow – after spending nearly 4 weeks here. We caught up on some work, dealt (are dealing) with some family stuff, hung out with Taylor Erdeski, and are hoping to get the oil changed on our old lug of an RV  before heading North in New Mexico. And maybe we’ll ditch some more shit we’ve accumulated. Because the itch… dammit El Paso!

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