ROAD TRIP - DAY 6 & 7 - Travel Day & El Paso

On the way in to El Paso from San Antonio, I became so enthralled with the open, high desert that I forgot what a gas guzzler my FJ Cruiser is and nearly ran out of gas 30 miles east of Fort Stockton. And in 104° heat! On down the road, I ran into a beautiful desert thunderstorm. Within minutes the temp dropped to a mere 63°! I sat for a while as the storm passed by and watched an incredible fireworks display.

The only shelter available was the truck. I couldn't shoot long exposures on my tripod so I had to shoot handheld from the driver's seat. In an hour, I was able to capture only one frame of the magnificent lightning going on all around me by timing my shutter with the rhythm of the electrical display. Finally, I managed to photograph this lovely straggler. Well worth the wait, I'd say. 

Timing is everything

Storm beginning to clear

From the road, I managed to photograph this rain-obscured sunset. Not really sure where it was. Don't think there's a name for Mile Marker 285.

On the Road - Desert Rain

Pushing on in a light rain, I gassed up again in Van Horn, Texas. After only 120 miles or so from my last fill-up, I was a bit gun-shy and decided to play it safe.

I'm not sure how these lone hotels spring up in the middle of nowhere (The Gage Hotel in Marathon, Texas comes to mind) but it's like finding a little gemstone. Your eyes get big and your heart skips a beat and the tiniest, little smile curls the corners of your mouth.  Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the Hotel El Capitan. 

Hotel El Capitan in Van Horn, Texas

Finally, after dark, the light rain continued from the road as I-10 veered closer to Mexico and my day's destination. Once again, I was not disappointed. El Paso came through for me with several gems, too, and a couple pieces of costume jewelry.

When I checked into a lovely, little hotel (The Soluna Hotel on E. Paisano - HIGHLY recommend it!) I had the good fortune to meet a native of this city — Josephine. I coerced her into recommending a favorite piece of architecture here. She recommended I take a look at El Paso High School. In a word, Holy Mother of Pearl! She was right. It's an inspirational structure built on a hill up against "the mountain" and adjacent to their football team's gridiron. The effect is amazing, giving the impression that the building is much taller than it is.

El Paso High School

While at the school, I ran into an Assistant Coach, Cruz, who gave me a quick tour of the grounds and pointed out the area above the school that wraps around the mountain best known as Scenic Drive.

Scenic Drive not only has many great views of the city, it's home to a lot of large, beautiful residences.

Residence on Scenic Drive

Residence on Scenic Drive

Downtown, I had to shoot the Cortez Building, one of the first structures I ever shot, way back in 1975. Today, the plaza it sits on is being torn apart and rebuilt and some of the long-empty buildings on the square are up for sale or scheduled for remodeling. 

Cortez Building

St. Patrick's Church

El Paso County Building

I've met a lot of wonderful people on this trip. Somehow a guy with a camera is either dangerous (What are you doing? Get out of here!) or harmless (Hey, what's going on? Taking some pictures?). Most have fallen into that second category. Today I met a reporter with NewsPaperTree and she asked to interview me. So, I fed another dollar into the parking meter and we had our powwow at the nearby, ever-present Starbucks.

NewsPaperTree Reporter, Elida S. Perez

I'm not sure when the story will be on their website; I'll be sure to pass along the link as soon as I know something. And she offered to link to my website. Very cool! You never know where your next new friend will come from. That's one reason I love this job.

Have to process images before I upload them to the blog. Check back in a bit. And link to the blog. I'd love to hear your comments.

For now, a shower is calling my name and I've got to check out of the hotel.

UPDATE: Elida Perez wrote a very nice article about me and my travels. You can read it here.