OOIDA’s tour trailer visits border city El Paso, Texas

February 7, 2020

Chuck Robinson

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El Paso, Texas, is the first stop of a short tour of Texas for Jon Osburn, skipper of OOIDA’s tour trailer, the Spirit of the American Trucker. He plans on arriving there Monday.

Jon and The Spirit are scheduled to be at the El Paso Petro on Feb. 10-13. It is off I-10 at Horizon Boulevard, Exit 37.

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The Spirit also is scheduled for stops in Laredo and San Antonio. This year, Jon has driven The Spirit on a tour or California and Arizona.

The El Paso Petro has 290 truck parking spots. There is an Iron Skillet restaurant, plus a fitness room and basketball hoop.

Some of us of a certain age hear “El Paso” and think immediately of the Marty Robbins 1959 hit of the same name.

It is a country and western ballad told by a cowboy in the days of the Wild West. The cowboy recalls how he frequented “Rosa’s Cantina,” where he fell in love with a Mexican girl named Feleena.

There really was a Rosa’s Cantina that helped Robbins write the song. By one account on Huffpost, Robbins was driving from Nashville to Phoenix and stopped there to stretch his legs. Because of that stop, the cantina became the setting for what would be Robbins’ most famous song.

Not only was there a Rosa’s Cantina, but there still is one. Here is its Facebook page. From the images, it isn’t a gentrified, genteel western bar. The rock walls suggest the bar and its patrons have a bit of grit. Yelp reviewers give it a pretty good rating. An Uber or Lyft shouldn’t cost too much, if Jon wanted to hang out or grab a meal there.

Two commercial truck crossings

El Paso is home to four bridges that carry vehicles to and from Texas to Juarez, Mexico. Two of them carry commercial vehicles. The Ysleta-Zaragoza Bridge has two structures, one for noncommercial traffic and pedestrians, and the other exclusively for commercial vehicles.

The Bridge of the Americas carries commercial and noncommercial traffic. It is the only crossing in El Paso that does not charge users a toll. It also is called the Free Bridge.

According to the Texas DOT, in 2017 nearly 780,000 northbound commercial trucks crossed the border in El Paso and more than 472,000 commercial vehicles crossed going south.

Cheering in Arizona

There were cheers from some drivers at The Spirit’s Arizona stops at Eloy and Willcox, when they saw a video of OOIDA Executive Vice President Lewie Pugh speaking truth about trucking at a U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing on Feb. 5.

“They liked how Lewie handled himself and came off as a real truck driver,” Jon said. “And Lewie told the lawmakers what they needed to hear from truckers, and that really rang true with drivers who stopped by.”

Lewie has more than 20 years of experience as an owner-operator. He began his career in trucking as a motor transport operator for the U.S. Army Reserve in 1992.

Come on over and chat with Jon

Whenever you see The Spirit tour truck, go say hello to Jon. He enjoys visiting about the Association’s activities and current issues. You can join or renew your OOIDA membership for $10 off the regular price there. Also, you can get vouchers for flu, shingles and pneumonia vaccines from Jon at The Spirit.

After El Paso and the other Texas stops, The Spirit is scheduled to head north. Here is the schedule.

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.

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