El Paso TX to Alamogordo NM: Mile 6310.4

El Paso is a desert border town and a military town which, IMHO, are two strikes against it. But, I am also prejudged on this, I was stationed at Fort Bliss – the Military Base that makes this a military town – for training in a Surface to Air missile system called HAWK (Homing All the Way Killer) from March 1963 to January 1964 when I was transferred to an active unit in Korea and then from April to June 1965 when I came back from Korea and ended up teaching Germans at the nearby Orogrande Missile Range. 

Being in the Army for three years was a major influence on my life, much of it good and some not so good. When I was in the military, it was an almost universal American male coming of age experience.  Yes, if someone didn’t want to go in the military and had the means to get a deferment, they were able to stay out, but that was more of an exception than a rule. Like most men my age, by the time I was in my early twenties, we had actually contributed at least two years – three in my case – to our country. I was exposed to other men, many from vastly different social and economic backgrounds, who I would never have met otherwise; not only exposed to but lived with, and, in many cases, befriended, which I give at least partial credit for why I am more tolerant of Trump voters than most of my friends. But, most importantly and somewhat counter-intuitively, the draft makes war less likely. People revolted against the Vietnam War because they or their relatives might go. Now,  with a so-called Professional Military, war does not involve the citizenry. Now, because almost nobody has been in the military, killing people in faraway lands is looked upon as a noble cause. Now we say, “Thank you for your service.” instead of protesting our wars. End of rant. 

Since, by the luck of using the internet, our motel was almost next door to Fort Bliss, we decided to visit and look around. (BTW, it turns out that we couldn’t just go onto the base to drive and look around, we had to go through a security check, in a pre-gate area, and then have a reason to go on base, in our case the reason was to go to the museum. Not shown is a series of about 15 cameras that looked into our car from different angles).
War has been good to the Army, at least at Fort Bliss, the old wooden PX is now a spiffy Marketplace and there are new buildings everywhere.
All that is left of my old HAWK outfit except for…
the barracks, we lived in (and the mess hall in which I first heard of the Kennedy assassination.
After our Fort Bliss excursion, we went into El Paso, itself, for lunch at Tabla where we had an excellent “simple” salad – anything but simple with avocado, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, parmesan cheese, and a herbed vinaigrette – Brussel sprouts, and Pork Belly Wraps. Brussel sprouts and pork belly, neither of which were around ten years ago, are now on almost every menu in what I would call New Style Restaurants.
BTW, while guns may be legal, most places we went didn’t want them. We only saw one guy with a gun in all our travels. This sign was typical.
After lunch, we went to the Rocketbuster Boot Factory where Michele was tempted by a pair of exquisite mules.
After lunch and after Rocketbuster, we wandered around the newly gentrified warehouse area that housed them both. It was very nice but somewhat empty. It was, however, next to a bustling Hispanic area…
where I got a very welcome cappuccino. Then we blew town, heading for White Sands.
We drove along “the wall” for a while…
looking throw the pickets into Juarez, Mexico.
We wandered through a maze of new freeway construction…
until we finally got untangled and crossed back into New Mexico about ten miles up the freeway.
After a few miles of freeway driving, we turned right and took US 70 over Augustin Pass…
into a large, flat, valley (a graben, really, as this area is part of the Basin and Range and is a dropped block caused by the Earth’s stretching).


As we drive across the flat valley floor, we start to see white sand dunes on our left.
and arrays of cameras on our right. At first, I think this is because we are passing through the White Sands Missile Range but now I’m inclined to think it is part of our “border security”.
Driving through the dunes at White Sands is like driving past a snowfield.


The road is even plowed as if it were snow.
We wandered around in the warm, fading, light; soaking up the soft beauty of the land and the light, feeling as much as seeing the day end.

After getting gas, we went to Lowe’s Super Market to get a take out dinner – the food was surprisingly good, if not very memorable – and then to our motel.to eat it.


2 thoughts on “El Paso TX to Alamogordo NM: Mile 6310.4

  1. You’re inspiring me to want to do a road trip! it never occurred to me that White Sands actually had white sands. Cool. I love how you appreciate the beauty of the land. One question – what does the 51% mean in the felony notices?

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