It has been a year already since I was in Colorado for a week where I spent a few days skiing in Aspen. I live in Texas so it is not so easy to just jump in the car and go skiing like I used to do when I lived in Norway, and this is something I miss being able to do. Well don’t you know? I can jump in my car in Austin, Texas and go skiing. Only drawback I have to drive for 8 to 9 hours to find a mountain with snow on it. The mountain is Ski Apache close to Ruidoso, New Mexico.
Texas is a large state with many roads, so I had to find out what was the best route to go. Since most Texas rural roads have speed limits at 70 or 75 mph, I decided on the route that looked like the shortest.
I started around 2:30PM on a Friday afternoon and drove north on 183 all the way to Brownwood, where I turned west towards Santa Anna, Coleman, and Winters. Then I turned north towards Sweetwater where I drove a few miles westward on I-20 before I again turned north towards Post, TX. I have always love driving and when I was in Bergen College of Engineering I drove a taxi every other weekend to make some extra money. Texas is a great state and there is lots of things to see. There have been pump jacks spread over Texas for almost a century now and when I pass them, for some reason I note if the are in operation or not. In the last years more and more windmills have popped up and it is quite interesting to drive by them at night. Every windmill have a red blinking light on top of them, probably to want airplanes, and when you drive by 100s of them at night all with blinking lights on top, it is quite interesting to see. Then there are old abandoned gas stations, stored, ranch houses etc. telling stories of passed times.
I recently bought a new car that have a so-called dynamic cruise control. This means that it if you are going down the road with a set speed of 75 mph and you catch up with a car going slower, my car will slow down and just follow the car in front. This makes it even easier to drive long distances, especially on two lane high ways. In Texas though where the slogan is: “Drive Friendly – The Texas Way,” many drivers will pull over to the shoulder so a faster moving vehicle can pass on a two lane highway.
When you drive across Texas in a day the sun is bound to go down before you get where you are going, and so it was on my road trip as well. On US Highway 84 between I-20 and Post, the sun did indeed go down in the west and the rest of the driving was in the dark. After post, the rest of the road was going straight west on US 380, through Tahoka, Brownfield, and Plains, TX. About halfway between Plains, TX and Tatum, NM is the border between Texas and New Mexico. The worst thing about NM is that the speed limit drops form 75 mph to 65 mph. There is not difference on the road quality and it seems like NM should rethink how fast it is safe to drive down a US Highway in the middle of nowhere. Regardless, I am happy I am in New Mexico since I feel closer to my destination.
I had meant to eat dinner in one of the small towns on highway 380 on the Texas side, but I didn’t find anything that was appealing so I ended up driving all the way to Roswell, NM before I stopped to eat. This turned to my benefit as a friend of mine in Austin who is from Roswell recommended I go to Peppers Grill & Bar, which ended up being a great choice. For over 30 years I have had an unwritten rule that if there is escargot on the menu at a restaurant I visit, then I need to order just that. So it was at Peppers and the escargots were excellent. So was the chopped steak I had as a main course together with a glass of Pinot Noir and it was all a good dining experience. I highly recommend Peppers and will come back next time I come through Roswell. As I left the restaurant, I also noticed snow for the first time of the day. It is weird that i left Austin in 72ºF weather and now 7 hours later there is snow. Now, Roswell is 3,000 ft higher elevation than Austin, so this may explain the snow, but for me, I had just driven through Texas and hadn’t felt the elevation change at all since it had happened gradually as I went westward. The last part of the drive, even in the dark, did make me feel I was going up in elevation. In the one hour plus drive from Roswell to Ruidoso, I gained about the same elevation I had gained from Austin to Roswell.
The next day I wake up early and am excited to go skiing. It is a sunny day with blue sky and I leave the hotel around 8AM to drive the 45 minutes Ski Apache, which also brings me an additional 3,000 ft up of elevation. The bottom of the skiing area is at about 9,600 ft. I had previously bought the ski pass and rental equipment online as it offered 15-30% discount depending on how far ahead you purchase. I went to the ticket booth to get my ski pass and to the ski rental to get my equipment. I did pay $21 to upgrade to demo equipment, and that was worth every penny. I got to click into the bindings at about 9:40AM or so and I skied the whole day until 4PM when the mountain closed. I really enjoyed the day and I am definitely coming back to New Mexico for more skiing.
See some of the pictures I took during the day at the mountain below: