Monday, March 24, 2014

In a corner of Texas

We like to stay at military base campgrounds.  Fort Bliss in El Paso is only about 90 miles from Columbus, NM, so a couple of days before we left Columbus, I called the Fort Bliss RV park to see how full it was since they don’t take reservations. They said they'd been having about five empty spots a day, which sounded like good odds.

The morning we left Columbus, I called Fort Bliss to see how many spots were open.  This time it was explained to me a little differently:  Apparently about five people a day had been leaving the base RV park, there was a waiting list to get one of the spots, and you can only get on the day's waiting list by showing up in person before 1 p.m. I did some quick research for a few Plan B campgrounds just in case, and we headed for Fort Bliss.

We drove to El Paso on NM 9, which skirts the Mexico/US border.  A park ranger at Pancho Villa State park told us it was a good road with plenty of Border Patrol presence, and that certainly was the case.  We only saw a couple dozen cars on all of NM-9, and most of those were Border Patrol. Once we got to El Paso, however, it was freeways and vehicles everywhere.  

We got to Fort Bliss around noon and got on the waiting list, but it was a no go. So we got back on the freeway and drove 20 more miles to a place called Mission RV Park.

Mission RV Park is not a vacation location.  While there was some greenery, our spot was in a gravel parking lot near I-10.  And it was $41 a night.  We don't usually pay that much, but the front desk staff was so nice, I’d stay again if need be.  

For example: The man who checked us said if we belong to Good Sam -- an RVer's club where you get campground discounts, roadside assistance and other stuff -- we'd get a 10 percent discount on that $41. We thought we’d just renewed our Good Sam membership but neither Jim nor I could find the card. So the man said he’d give us the discount and we could let him know the number later.  

After we got set up in our camping spot, we realized we didn't belong to Good Sam.  So Jim went to the office and was told we could still get the discount if we belong to AARP.  Jim told them we did, and said I'd call with the AARP number -- but we don't belong to AARP. 

So I went back to the front desk and told they man that we didn't have Good Sam or AARP but that we did apparently have Alzheimer's and I owned him $4.  He gave us the Alzheimer's discount.

Anyway, the next morning Fort Bliss called and said they had a spot for us.  So it was back on the freeway and back to Fort Bliss.  We're now at the Army's second largest installation (square-miles-wise) in the world.
Our camping spot at Mission RV Park in El Paso, TX.   The big ramp in the background is part of I-10 under construction, with actual I-10 below.
Our camping spot at Fort Bliss.  We're close to a freeway here, too, but the campground is clean, the spots are big, and it's only $17 a night.  

Our RV neighbors at Fort Bliss have two birds including Louie the Macaw, above, three dogs and I think a cat. On the other side is a man on active duty.  We don't usually see a lot of active duty people at the military RV campgrounds, but there are a lot of kid's bikes and toys here, and I bet half of the spaces are occupied by military families living in RVs.

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