14 November 2014

Across the U.S., Day 38 - Deming (NM) to Tucson (AZ)

With the snow and cold weather that spread into the northern U.S. this week, my plan to return back home via the southern route turned out to be a good one. Temperatures also dropped below freezing in Texas and New Mexico over night while I was there. But during the day the weather was just perfect.

I love those wide open landscapes. Therefore, US-70 was ideal for me to get from New Mexico into Arizona.

Arizona is particularly attractive to me because of its deserts, forests and of course the Grand Canyon, which gave the state its nickname. In 2012, Arizona had its centennial; it achieved statehood only in Feb 1912 and was the last of the contiguous states that joined the Union.

I spotted this specific cactus from the road and found it so beautiful that I turned around to take a picture.

Fishhook barrel (Ferocactus wislizeni)

And if you wonder how it looks in full, here it is including size comparison. Donkey refused to sit on top of the thing, but he was ok next to it.

I stopped at Duncan for a donut.

Cotton in the small town of San Jose (AZ)

Arizona desert along US-191

This is certainly the most beautiful rest area I saw on my whole journey, located on I-10 at Texas Canyon. There is also rock climbing in this area.


Then I was reminded how quickly things can turn bad. Interstate 10 is a 75 mph highway and this was about the speed I had a few miles before Tucson when traveling on the left lane, just about to pass a truck. Suddenly, I saw a large wooden palette in the middle of my lane. Too high for the clearance of my TDI to go across it without causing damage to the car; on the left the median with bushes and on the right the truck I had not fully passed yet. I hit the brakes really hard and slowed down just enough to then do a swerve to the right around the palette. At this moment, the truck had passed me again, leaving me just enough room behind him on the right lane. Whoa! Scary!

I took the next exit, googled the number for the Arizona Department of Public Safety and Highway Patrol and notified them about the palette and its location. I hope they were able to collect it before anyone got injured! The minute I stopped on the parking lot near the I-10 exit, a guy approached me and - pointing to the truck behind him - asked whether I could gave him a ride to Tucson as his truck had broken down. Without a second thought I denied his request. I'm sure he is a good and honest person and deserved help. But someone other than me had to take care of him. Sorry.

The rest of the day was uneventful. Not a bad thing! I restocked my food supply at Safeway and called it a day. When I spoke to the lady at the motel's front desk, she told me that accidents on I-10 are very common. The wind corridor between Phoenix and Tucson results in frequent dust storms, things get blown off and land on the highway. Also, people drive fast (= 90+ miles/hour) and certainly zone out on that boring highway. Not too long ago, they had a 40-car pile up where people had crashed into each other.

Furthermore, heavy rainfalls during summer monsoons frequently cause flooded stretches on roads. Arizona State Legislature had implemented the "Stupid Motorist Law" for those who ignore road barricades and get stuck in those flooded sections. ... Well, you can't prevent stupid, but at least you need to charge for it.

One thing I notice over and over again on my journey: everyone I had met so far in these 5 weeks has been very friendly, helpful and open. And what a big difference a simple smile makes!!

More to come.


  1. Glad you were able to avoid the pallet safely.

    Beautiful photo of the cactus. East of Tucson was a field site a long time ago (at a different job) and it's a pretty nice area at this time of year. I like the "Stupid Motorist Law". I wish that there were more similar regs.

    1. As a U.S. citizen or resident, couldn't one submit suggestions for regs? Or have other kind of impacts? Because after all, it is tax payers' money that went into the rescue of the stupid before they had that law in place.

  2. '. . . things get blown off and land on the Highway". Of course, when stupid Pickup-drivers do not secure their load properly! I hate such people! We had such a situation with a ladder, but not on a desert Highway but on a busy Interstate. Later that day we had a flat tire because of a nail - argh. I am also very glad that nothing happened to you!

    This time I especially love your photo of the desert Highway and your explanation why you love these landscapes at least particularly. That sounds so familiar to me ;-)