We were nervous and excited about living in El Paso for Andy’s first traveling nurse contract. We received advice, warnings, and opinions from friends, coworkers and even a few strangers. Before leaving home, we decided to form our own opinions after living there.
As we settle into our current city and RV park, we want to share our impressions of our 13 weeks in El Paso.
Here are a few of our favorite places and reasons we enjoyed our time there:
Fort Bliss RV Park – We lived at the Fort Bliss RV Park in central El Paso from October 20, 2017, to January 21, 2018. The park is a military family campground for active and retired members of the Armed Forces. It is well maintained, with a friendly and helpful staff. This was our first long-term campground stay. It was a good experience for us.
The Franklin Mountains – The view of the Franklin Mountains from our spot in the park was great. We took several trips into the mountains to hike and walk the dogs. The Wyler Aerial Tramway is a great afternoon adventure if you are not afraid of heights! We drove Hwy 375, also known as Trans Mountain Drive, several times while staying there. The highway goes through the Franklin Mountains, which separate west El Paso from east El Paso. There are several places to stop along the way and enjoy the view.
Rio Bosque Wetlands Trails – We visited the wetland twice, taking a different trail each time. This is a great place for ‘outdoor therapy’ and picture taking. It is also along the Rio Grande and the border wall with Mexico.
Grace Presbyterian Church – We are Christ followers and attend church regularly. We found our El Paso church home in the second church we visited. We attended Grace Presbyterian Church the majority of our stay and enjoyed the warmth of the congregation and the relevant messages from Rev. Jessica Vaughan Lower. We adopted a couple ‘angels’ from their Christmas tree and had fun shopping for them. We will miss the way this small, close congregation walked around the sanctuary each Sunday, greeting each other with handshakes and hugs.
Harwood Veterinary Clinic – While we were living in El Paso, our dog Max developed an ear infection. We checked with the Ft. Bliss Veterinary Clinic and received a referral to a local clinic for treatment. Dr. Nancy Harwood, at Harwood Veterinary Clinic, gave Max a comprehensive exam, asking questions about her past ear infections and skin issues. She determined that the cause of the infections was allergies. She took her time, thoroughly explaining the treatment and answering all my questions. We are very grateful we found Dr. Harwood. She relieved the anxiety we had bringing Max to a vet while away from home.
Downtown El Paso Art District – Also known as Las Plazas, this section of downtown has murals, sculptures, and unique architecture. The El Paso Museum of Art, located at 1 Arts Festival Plaza, is the only accredited art museum in a 250-mile radius. The museum is free to visitors, with donations optional. It features exhibitions and permanent collections. When we visited, the Frank Lloyd Wright: Architecture of the Interior and Gardens of Earthly and Unearthly Delights exhibits were on display. We also went downtown during El Paso’s annual WinterFest. The decorations in downtown El Paso were beautiful.
The People – The people are another reason we enjoyed El Paso. With few exceptions, the people we interacted with in stores, walking on the street or in the RV park were friendly and helpful. Andy’s co-workers made him feel welcome at the hospital and provided suggestions for places to visit and restaurants to try during our stay.
Photo Opportunities – There are many places for a photographer to explore. Andy saw a historic cemetery across from L&J Café when we had dinner there. Before we left town, he found a few daylight hours to take some pictures.
One of our last adventures was an evening visit to the scenic overlook. We had gone there in the daylight shortly after arriving in El Paso and wanted to go back after dark. It is a popular destination and there were many other people there, enjoying the view of the city from the mountain.
Not everything was perfect. Here are a couple of things we didn’t like:
Dog Poop – As we said, we like the Fort Bliss RV Park. Our complaint is with our fellow dog park users. Every time we took our dogs to the park to do their business, we saw piles of poo left behind. The rules are posted at the park and the rule regarding picking up your pet’s waste is at the top of the list. After picking up our dog’s waste, Andy would walk around and pick up other poop, until the bag was full.
Lack of Grocery Stores – Grocery shopping was a different experience for us. I like certain grocery stores. They were not in El Paso. There was one Sprouts, but it was on the other side of the Franklin Mountains. The money I would save on produce would be spent on gas. I shopped at the Ft. Bliss commissary sometimes, but it was a little farther drive and required going through the gate. The other grocery store in the area was Albertson’s. It was nice and I signed up for their savings program. I got most of our meat and produce at the Commissary or Alberton’s. Occasionally, we went to Costco. However, living in an RV limits the number of groceries we can purchase at one time.
Wal-Mart was the nearest store and we shopped there more than we ever had previously. I am not putting Wal-Mart down. I just prefer to buy groceries at a grocery store. I also like to have grocery store choices.
Traffic – No matter what time of day or day of the week, there was always traffic on US 54 or I-10. This is a busy, sprawling city and getting around by car or motorcycle is necessary. Kansas City, our hometown, has traffic, but at least to us, this seemed like more. A lot more.
The traffic noise from US 54 was a constant at Ft. Bliss RV Park. The park is located just off the Ellerthorpe exit, within view and earshot of the highway. Eventually, we got used to it.
The positives reasons we enjoyed living in El Paso outweigh the negative ones. If you get the chance to visit, we hope you will like it as much, or more, than we do.
In our next post, we will share what we saw on the journey from El Paso to our current city, Rio Rancho, New Mexico.