EL PASO Jackie Version

El Paso Texas was our next stop after Abilene; Texas was one of the only states that got two stops purely because of its size. Abilene had been an overnight; El Paso was a destination. That meant, we spent two nights in El Paso (read: went to two restaurants for dinner as anyone who knows me or has read my earlier blogs knows food is my priority). EL PASO JACKIE

Our first night, we were famished and exhausted, so we just wandered to a Mexican bar near the hotel. Dad frequently requested we go somewhere close and easy despite my months of meticulous planning. This one time, he wasn’t completely wrong. The food was delicious – a la carte tacos and plenty of seasonings to suit your fancy. The décor was interesting – a bit of an artistically graffitied warehouse vibe. I enjoy graffiti art; it tends to be more vibrant, and often humorous, than many older art forms. EL PASO JACKIE

The waitress outfits were a little bit, well, little. It seemed like a Mexican Hooters or Tilted-Kilt (Irish Hooters). Overall, I couldn’t complain; good food and good beer leads to a happy Jackie. And personally, as long as the women working there are comfortable with their outfits, it doesn’t bother me one way or the other. However, going there with my father made it a smidge less comfortable as he has a tendency toward being distracted and I had to constantly bring up my mother and the control she has over what exactly goes into his meals at home (hint: hopefully not Drain-o). EL PASO JACKIE

The next morning, we set off to our primary attraction in El Paso: the border patrol museum. The trip there was one of my more stressful portions of the trip. El Paso has one freeway that runs over – yes, over – the city. If you want to go anywhere other than straight, you have to take an exit onto the one-way roads on either side of the freeway. If you want to go North (let’s say, I have no idea the actual direction the roads point), you had to go on the right side of the freeway while South was on the left. No turning around without crossing under the freeway in a massive U-be. EL PASO JACKIE

Unfortunately, on this particular morning, we needed gas and it seemed that every exit we took, the gas station was behind us in the wrong direction. The GPS was all but useless and my dad, the driver, was a little too busy cursing and panicking to listen to my advice – not that I could have helped much if he wasn’t. Eventually, after another quarter tank spent doing U-turns and loops under the freeway, we made it to a gas station (I honestly don’t know how). EL PASO JACKIE

Eventually, through some miracle beyond our control and only an hour or two later than planned, we made it to the Border Patrol Museum. The building was rather small, but full of history. My dad was riveted. I was mildly entertained, but there were some interesting takeaways. My top takeaway: there was already a border wall. Now, I am not going to take a political stance here, so I ask that you not tune out assuming I will. My only goal is to contribute information that I could not believe was new to me. There was already a wall on the border between the United States and Mexico. Possibly multiple walls or multiple segments of the same wall, however you want to think of it. EL PASO JACKIE

Remember, please, that this road trip occurred during the summer of 2016. I had spent months watching debates, listening to arguments, and reading news articles (okay, mostly the headlines) about Trump’s plan to build a wall. Some people thought it was great and necessary in order to keep out illegal immigrants and drug trafficking (the reason for the small segments of wall already erected in 2016); some people thought it was inhumane and a waste of taxpayer funds. But no one seemed to acknowledge that there was already a wall or wall segments in play. EL PASO JACKIE

At the very least, this could have provided better justification: “it’s already there, we’re just going to reinforce and expand it” or “there’s already a wall and you still think there’s a problem, so is it really a solution?” Really, I would have accepted any form of acknowledgement that the wall existed. But no, I had to travel to a little border patrol museum in El Paso, Texas to learn this tid bit. Now I’ve saved you the trouble. Though, I imagine the museum has a lot more recent information to report after that last four years. EL PASO JACKIE

Leaving the Border Patrol Museum brought us to our second dinner in El Paso, or rather slightly outside of town. In planning our trip, I had picked a handful of special attractions, places I was going with or without my father if I had to steal the car or walk there myself. Cattleman’s Steakhouse was one of them. EL PASO JACKIE

To get to Cattleman’s, you have to drive down a dessert highway, then drive awhile longer down a dirt (sand?) road off the highway. There was a sign somewhere between our hotel and the steakhouse that basically said if you’re not back by 9 pm, the road closes and you can’t get through until morning. Were we worried? Yes. Should we have just skipped it? Probably. Did dad recommend we head back? Of course. Would I ever have agreed? Hell no, there was steak on the line. EL PASO JACKIE

So, on we went, down the roads until we entered a giant ranch / zoo / steakhouse. We didn’t get to explore the full zoo (most of the animals were some form of farm animals – though there were more varieties than any farm I’ve been to – but they were in pastures set up like a zoo, so I stand by “zoo”) because we were worried about getting cut off from the hotel and having to sleep in the sand. We did get to watch some of the animals from the top of the stairs that led down to the zoo from the restaurant while we waited for our table, and that was good enough for me. We were really there for the steak anyway. So, was the food worth risking a night in the Texas dessert? Abso-fuckin-lutely. EL PASO JACKIE

The good news: we made it back to the hotel before the road closed. The bad news: I may never eat that farm fresh, juicy, thick, or perfectly seasoned and cooked slice of sirloin again. I may not have been able to button my pants when we left, but boy did I go home happy. EL PASO JACKIE

Disclaimer: I apologize that these blogs have come slightly out of order. With COVID-19 making generally easy tasks more difficult and some personal matters I have had to attend to, I have fallen behind on my blogs. My gracious father has carried on in my stead, but fear not. I am back to resume the father-daughter back and forth that you have come to expect and enjoy. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, go read some of my father and my previous blog posts https://johnjjessop.com/whodunit-blog  from this trip we took in 2016 that inspired the road trip in MURDER BY ROAD TRIP, available now on Amazon https://amzn.to/2HauHCg Barnes&Noble https://bit.ly/35lISh6 and Indie Books https://bit.ly/2I95at8

It might be fun for you to find out what kind of trouble PI Longfellow gets into in El Paso. There’s a clue or two in there that’ll help you to help him solve the mystery and catch the killer(s). And, wouldn’t you like to know why someone’s trying to steal his teeth?