3000 Miles of Driving in A Week: Hondo, Del Rio, Laredo, El Paso, and Wisconsin

Just like the driving and the amount of hours working I put in this week, this post is going to be long. I definitely covered a lot of ground, traveling over 3000 miles, so there’s a lot to show for it. This is on par with what an over-the-road trucker averages a week. Obviously, the driving was only getting to my destination and I had to actually do work at each site when I arrived.

The original plan was for me to go to Hondo, Del Rio, Laredo, and then head back to Austin. Then I would go up to Wisconsin for Thanksgiving. The interesting thing is, the year before, I was in the Laredo office running the network cables before I watched the weather complete change on my way to Thanksgiving in Wisconsin.

Just like my visit to Eagle Pass, I was going to fit going to El Paso into this trip since there was work that needed to be performed there, and I would not be able to go there for another couple months with my current travel schedule. Since El Paso was added last minute, I had to actually do a little backtracking and drive through Eagle Pass and Del Rio again on my way up. It is definitely easier for me to spend a few extra hours driving than to rearrange the schedules of several different people.

My route would take me to Hondo first to do the first Surface deployment and then Del Rio, where I’d spend the night. I would then deploy another Surface in Del Rio and drive to Laredo, where I’d spend the night. The next morning I’d deploy in Laredo and then hightail it to El Paso. This would then take me back through Del Rio and Eagle Pass again. That Wednesday would be a long day since the drive to El Paso from Laredo is long and desolate nothing. I’d then do the work in El Paso Thursday and head back to Austin on Friday. From there, I’d drive up to Wisconsin.

The route would look something like this:

When I was loading up the vehicle in the headquarters parking lot, I saw a bit of irony with a beer can rolling around in the parking lot.

The drive to Hondo was uneventful. When I did get to Hondo, I saw the sign that has recently been causing a bunch of controversy. You can definitely tell you’re in a more religious part of Texas and they do value Christmas much.

The Hondo deployment went smooth overall and I was on the road to Del Rio.

Our admin assistant mentioned there weren’t many hotels in the area that did direct bill with the agency and the one she had to book looked sketchy, but as long as it’s clean and there’s somewhat decent internet, I’m usually content. She was right. The hotel that was booked was definitely a bit sketchy. It seemed to be built in the Brady Bunch era, but was left to run down enough that it seemed like some sketchy activities might be going on. The poorly mended fence added to these suspicions.

The guy at the front desk said I could pull up to my room and go inside. I guess I found out there was another door in the hallway and this one had been locked so I couldn’t initially get in.

I finally got in and the room itself wasn’t horrible.

They did do La Quinta returns, so I did have my snack and water.

The next morning, I noticed a sign that added to some of the sketchiness. Normally, these signs say not responsible for damage or theft of the contents of a vehicle. This sign decided to up the bar and said they weren’t responsible if the vehicle itself was stolen.

The breakfast was pretty basic with just cereal and bagels available.

The vehicle was still there, but I could definitely tell I was in The Valley with how humid it was.

I did the deployment in Del Rio. The agent already set a bunch of stuff up so I got done pretty fast. I was actually a bit ahead of schedule. I hit the road for Laredo. It was interesting that I actually ran into a few wooded areas along the way.

I ended up going through Eagle Pass again.

After Eagle Pass, it was a whole lot of nothing again and it was also starting to warm up.

When I got to Laredo, I decided that, since I was ahead of schedule, I’d go in the office and get as much stuff done, so I could leave as early for El Paso as possible. I noticed someone decided to tag up the TABC sign at that office.

One of the agents was coming in that night so I’d be able to take care of their Surface ahead of time. I decided to get a snack at Monita’s grocery store across the street while I waited for them to come in.

It ended up being a long day and I didn’t get to the hotel until late. They were already preparing for Christmas.

This La Quinta is nice and I have stayed there many times. They have a happy hour and I just made it in time. They had some taco salad there so it was a great supper to have with my beer.

The room was nice and I had my snack bag for dessert.

The next morning, I ate my breakfast and realized how much nicer this hotel actually was.

The second agent I had to help was actually based out of a Homeland Security office. He picked me up and we set everything up. I had to wear a visitor badge for this one.

I got him setup and then was dropped back off at the office. I saw Laredo was being the oven that is is known to be. It’s crazy to think it’s mid-November with these temps!

The drive was the same drive of desolate nothing that I drove when I scaled the Texas-Mexico border a couple weeks prior.

I realized I was getting low on gas, so found a station in the middle of nowhere. It is crazy the prices they had. $2.79 for a gallon of regular when a lot of places in Texas, at the time of this writing, are $1 a gallon cheaper at $1.79.

It was around lunch time, so I figured I’d get some pizza since I wasn’t sure when the next stop would be.

The drive was a whole lot of nothing and I ended up going through Eagle Pass again and also drove by Del Rio.

The drive was definitely very scenic and, after a few hours of driving, I stopped at a picnic area by the Pecos River where I could stretch my legs and also take in the views for a few minutes.

I then ended up in a little town called Sanderson. It was scenic and gas prices were definitely a lot cheaper.

I got some supper for the road. The salt and vinegar pork rinds were something I hadn’t tried, but were definitely good.

I then hit the road and got to watch the sunset in the desert.

One interesting thing is I was listening to 60’s on 6. Brenda Lee came on and it reminded me of the song, “Radar Love,” by Golden Earring since I would be driving into the night.

Eventually, it became dark. Now the desolate nothing was just navigating on the windy roads. After a while, I saw the civilization of Fort Stockton in the distance. This is where I’d get onto I10.

After a couple hours of driving 80mph (the actual speed limit) on I10, I finally made it to El Paso.

They had I10 shut down, so there was a huge traffic jam and it took me a while to get to my hotel.

When I hit the hotel, it was definitely a lot cooler than when I left Laredo.

The hotel was not as nice as Laredo, but definitely was nicer than Del Rio. This hotel seemed to be an 80’s era hotel. Overall, it was decent.

For a really late supper, I ate my Elite snack, as well as the rest of the pork rinds.

Upon waking, the hotel room view was a lot better.

You could also tell it was a lot less humid.

Just like Austin, there was a decent amount of traffic on my commute to work.

I also got a view of Mexico.

I had a little lull in the day and needed to get to the Paso Del Norte bridge to install another antenna for their cellular router. Since there wasn’t an agent there to take me to the bridge, I decided to walk the same route I took to Juarez, since that that was the bridge I crossed at.

I installed the antenna and walked back. i stopped for a quick break at the San Jacinto Plaza to grab a bite to eat at the cafe. The interesting thing is their border tacos were a complete copy of Chico’s.

The plaza was also decorated for Christmas.

I then made it back to the office and continued to work on some more things. By the time I got out, it was dark.

Since I was going to hit the road early and would miss breakfast, I decided to get a pizza and some wings I could split between supper and breakfast.

The next morning I was up early and it was definitely a little chilly by Texas standards.

I was able to see the lights of both El Paso and Juarez.

I stopped for gas by the bridge with the cool lights.

This time, I got to watch the sunrise in the desert.

It actually got colder the further east I drove.

Eventually, the sun fully peaked its head out.

I had to get gas in Fredricksburg. They had a brisket sandwich and jerky, so I made that my lunch.

I got back to the main office and unloaded the vehicle. By the time I sat in the Surface project status meeting and took care of all the loose ends, it was normal quitting time for me. When everything was said and done I had close to 60 hours in for the week. I knew I’d be fighting stop and go traffic in Austin, so I decided to text Victoria and go to dinner with her and then get some rest while traffic subsided. We went to one of my favorite places in Austin, Dos Batos Tacos.

I then went home and slept a bit. I was intending on getting a few hours and then hitting the road, but I ended up sleeping all night. This was good because it recharged me for the next morning and the long drive from Texas to Wisconsin. They were also expecting some storms like I encountered the year before when driving up, so I needed to brace for that.

I hit the road at about 7am, right as the sun was starting to come up to meet the day.

I was actually able to drive through DFW without a traffic jam. This was actually a first for me. It was almost like winning the lottery. Unlike Texas, Oklahoma has more than one casino. They like to put them on the border so people can easily go there and gamble. This one is so big, it even has its own water tower.

The drive in Oklahoma was pretty uneventful.

It was also a lot of flat nothing when I hit Kansas.

The interesting thing is, by the time I hit Kansas, I saw a lot of Wisconsin plates. Actually, a lot more than usual. I also saw a Roehl Transport truck. Roehl is based out of Marshfield and I actually worked there doing IT work for 3 years in high school and college.

Eventually, the sun started to set again.

Of course, when it came time to pay my toll on the Kansas tollway, I got behind a difficult person where the toll booth collector had to come out to their vehicle. It took a while of sitting there, but once this difficult person was gone, I was in and out fast.

I kept driving from Kansas and made it to the Minnesota Welcome Center, where I slept for the night.

Since it was only around 20 degrees, I had a bunch of ice to deal with the next morning.

Just like coming from El Paso, I got to see the sunrise. This one was really cool with the clouds.

Eventually, I made it to the 2 lane highways of Wisconsin. It was opening day of deer hunting season, so there were many hunter’s vehicles parked alongside the road as they sat in their tree stands.

I made it down my parent’s road and was happy the end of this long drive was in sight.

It was nice to get off the road and actually relax a bit. I know it would be a short time before I hit the road again, but it is definitely nice to have a few days to relax and visit with family. I definitely did see a lot of things in this road trip and I wonder when the next time I’ll put on mileage like this during a work week. I guess we’ll have to see.

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