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On-Walkabout In: El Paso, Texas

Here are some pictures of my current home city of El Paso, Texas taken from the summit of Scenic Drive that skirts the southern edge of El Paso’s Franklin Mountains:

You can see in the Google Earth image below the route the road takes below the summit of Mt. Franklin:

There is a couple of parks along the road with the first one being the El Paso Scenic Drive Park which is really just a place for people to dump garbage and beer bottles:

Just a short drive further up the road is the main viewpoint of the Scenic Drive at Murchison Park:

From Murchison Park is the best available of downtown El Paso:

The El Paso area has a long history of Native Americans and later Spanish explorers passing through the area following the Rio Grande River through the mountain pass.  It is this natural pass that gave the El Paso area its first name of El Paso del Norte (Northern Pass).  However, not enough people ever settled in the area to make it big enough to be classified as a city until the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo that ended the Mexican-American War in 1848 and established the Rio Grande as the international border.  This made El Paso’s location to an international border significant and a military post was established, which meant even more people moved to the area to service the soldiers and conduct trade with Mexico.  Since these early days of El Paso, the city has grown in size to where it has become the 22nd largest city in the US with a metropolitan area population of over 730,000 people. 

Downtown El Paso isn’t the only place that Murchison Park provides a good view of, but El Paso’s sister city of Juarez, Mexico as well:

Ciudad Juarez is a much older city than El Paso since this was the location that Spanish explorers first established a settlement in the area in 1659.  Since then Juarez is now home to 1.5 million people jam packed into a city now noted for its extreme drug violence that continues to claim hundreds of lives every year.  From Scenic Drive and just about any elevated area in El Paso the location of El Paso is easily spotted because of the huge Mexican flag that flies over the city near the border:

The border between the two cities is composed by the Rio Grande River that is canaled and has very little water flowing through it as it passes through the cities:

A portion of 1-10 that travels through El Paso actually runs parallel to the border and it is possible from the highway to see the poverty of Mexico from the comfort of your car.  It is a bit surreal when you first see this.  After 1-10 passes through downtown El Paso it continues out to the east where it passes through the ever growing suburbs of east El Paso:

To the northeast from the park I could see the major military base in the city, Ft. Bliss:

Ft. Bliss was actually first established closer to the river and nearer to downtown El Paso before it was relocated to a mesa overlooking the city in 1893.  As the above picture shows, the military base has now been completely surrounded by the ever growing city of El Paso. 

To the west of the park I could see part of western El Paso and the campus of the University of Texas-El Paso (UTEP):

The campus area of UTEP is actually pretty nice and the school’s stadium the Sun Bowl was easily visible from the park as well:

As everyone can see El Paso is a sprawling city located in a hot and arid desert environment, which really makes the pollution from all the factories in Juarez that much worse.  The air pollution is the single worst aspect of living in El Paso for me.  We moved here from an area in Australia that just had some incredibly fresh air to this place that when we first moved here I got a severe lung infection.  I was sick for two weeks from the illness, but now I have acclimated to the pollution though whenever I leave the city I can definitely tell the difference in air quality.  The city is actually does have plenty of good aspects about it as well.  The cost of living is cheap, the crime isn’t that bad, the people for the most part are pretty cool, and unsurprisingly there are lots of good Mexican restaurants.  Nevertheless my wife and I have no plans to ever settle here long term, but we are fine living here for a couple of years. 

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