We landed in El Paso on Wednesday and suddenly couldn’t steer the plane down the runway.

“Exit the runway at Uniform 2 and taxi via Hotel,” came the call, or something similar, and we were like, “Um, can we exit here at Yankee and shut down to inspect the nose wheel?”

The ground controllers and crew could not have been more helpful. They gave us permission to block the taxiway, directed aircraft around us, and I hopped out and discovered we had a flat nose-wheel tire.

There wasn’t anything to do but get the plane towed to an engineering workshop – and so we sat out on the runway while equipment and assistance were summoned to help us It took a long time – those runways are about a mile long. We got to ride in the escort vehicle with Erica, the airport operations supervisor, who drove about five miles an hour while poor Julie got towed by the cart behind us.

We were the second small aircraft to come in to El Paso with a flat tire in the last half an hour! And when I admired the shining old DC-3 parked out in front of one of the hangars, Erica said, “Oh, they had a flat tire too!”

No doubt the DC-3 tire wasn’t as easily replaced as ours. We were able to take off again the next morning, but found ourselves battling to hold our altitude – it was the most turbulent flight we’d experienced during the whole trip. We’d been aiming for Tucson, but after traveling across the desert in stifling heat and being lifted 700 feet in 30 seconds, and finding little relief as high as 10,500 feet, we decided we’d be better off on the ground. We diverted to Deming, New Mexico – as with Mississippi, we’d flown over New Mexico but hadn’t intended to stop there! But we were very happy to be on the ground in this surprising green desert oasis full of pecan groves.

There was an airport beacon here which I believe dates to 1942 and which I thought was extremely cool. The airport office had pet cats and rattlesnakes.