OOIDA’s tour trailer stops in Las Cruces, N.M.

February 5, 2021

Chuck Robinson

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Jon Osburn, skipper of OOIDA’s tour trailer, returns to Las Cruces, N.M., with some warm memories of meals with hot chilies.

The Spirit of the American Trucker is scheduled to be at the TA Travel Center in Las Cruces, N.M. on Feb. 6-7.

The Las Cruces TA has parking for 201 tractor-trailers. Though there is takeout from Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and Burger King available, the full-service restaurant there is temporarily closed, per the website

Just 40 miles from Las Cruces is Hatch, N.M., a community that revels in its association with the chile (that is how locals spell it) pepper that shares its name. Osburn’s mouth waters thinking about some of the local dishes he has enjoyed in the area over the years, including huevos rancheros and carne adovada.

“Back when TAs were the Truck Stops of America and had local dishes, this town rocked. Some of the best chilies I have ever eaten are grown in the area,” he said.

The fertile Mesilla Valley surrounds Las Cruces. The Mesilla Valley produces pecans, cotton, chilies, onions and corn. The valley stretches from nearby Hatch east to El Paso, Texas.

The steep, angular Organ Mountains watch over Las Cruces and the Chihuahuan Desert. The Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument is 20 miles away.

Chatter from the road

As is often the case, freight rates and fuel prices were topics of conversation at the Arizona stops, Osburn said. Drivers seem a bit more agitated now, however. It seems more important now for drivers to do their homework and make sure return rates are sufficient, he said.

DAT, the load board, recently warned that spot rates seemed to be settling down and a correction may be coming, so even more reason to be wary.

The 13-week trend of rising diesel prices also has been noted by drivers, Osburn said.

“I have heard rumors of prices in some states jumping, not slowly climbing,” he said.

A slow rise is one thing, he said, and a rapid one more concerning.

On the pandemic front, The Johnson and Johnson one-shot COVID-19 vaccine seems promising, Osburn said. Before truck driving, Osburn was a paramedic. A vaccine where you don’t have to have a follow-up shot a few weeks later would be good.

“Sounds trucker friendly to me,” he said.

The next problem is getting the vaccines to truck drivers. Maybe truck stop operators will step up or shippers and receivers, Osburn said.

Geography King’s favorite state

A guy who calls himself “Geography King” on YouTube ranks New Mexico as his favorite state, and it is somewhere he hopes to live someday (he says he lives in Chattanooga, Tenn.)

Here are some of the things he likes about New Mexico:

  • Having snow in the mountains to visit.
  • Sparsely populated with splendid wilderness.
    Mild climate that doesn’t get too hot or too cold and has low humidity.
  • Caves, including Carlsbad Caverns, but there are many others.
  • The spicy food. “It’s not Mexican. It’s not Tex-Mex. It’s New Mexican.”

It is a majority minority state, meaning 55% of the population is not white. Only 64% of residents speak only English.

That said, truck drivers who cross the state on I-40 may not get the essence of the state, he says, because the I-40 corridor is pretty boring.

“It really is the ugliest part of the state,” he says.

Stop by when you see The Spirit

If you see OOIDA’s tour trailer, stop by and say hello to Osburn. He enjoys visiting about the Association’s activities and current issues. He usually has copies of Land Line Magazine to hand out. You can join or renew your OOIDA membership for $10 off the regular price there. Free face masks are available for anyone with a commercial driver’s license at The Spirit. You also can get forms for drivers without medical insurance to get flu, shingles and pneumonia vaccine vouchers at The Spirit.

After Las Cruces, The Spirit is scheduled for a month in Texas, starting with El Paso on Feb. 8-11.

Here is the schedule for The Spirit. LL

 

TA Bandag
Chuck Robinson

Chuck Robinson formerly was senior copy editor for a weekly trade publication serving the fresh produce industry. He has served trade publications, horticultural journals and community newspapers for 25 years.