All the online mapping tools (Yahoo, Rand McNally, Google) wanted me to take the Northern route, or head directly west. But I found out one of my friends had made the Lubbock to Phoenix trek about 20 weekends in a row a few years back, and he told me that he had tried all the routes, and the fastest by far was the southern route, 82 West out of Lubbock toward Brownfield, then straight on to Odessa, hook up on I-10 West, and ride that all the way through El Paso, to Tucson, to Phoenix. He did state that it was an ugly trip, with no scenery, but few twists and turns in which to get lost.
When I mentioned this to another friend who has family in El Paso and had just made the trip, he referred me to a different El Paso route that he recently took that shaved off two and a half hours for him.
So the route I took was to head out 82 West, through Brownfield, when you reach the first stop light in Seminole (with the box clock hanging off the building to your left), take a right onto 180 West. Travel all the way to Carlsbad New Mexico, at the second light you’ll see signs diverting trucks to turn left to continue on to 62 West, take that if you don’t need to stop, otherwise continue to the third light on S Canal St where you can see the McDonalds on the left. You’ll drive through a couple more stop lights and what not, and pass my favorite childhood convenience store Allsups, then Wal-Mart, and eventually meet back up with 62 West.
Carlsbad is a good place to stop and use the bathroom and refuel the car since it is a desolate stretch of road from here to El Paso, mountainous too. (Edit from 1/8/2006: I forgot to mention, that while driving through the mountains, and even when driving straight into the wind; it felt like something was pushing the car. I'd keep my foot off the gas for what seemed like a long time, and the car would stay at over 65 miles per hour.)
Once you reach El Paso you’ll have to go through an almost countless number of stop lights (the first convenience store you see after coming out of the mountains does not have a bathroom, and that’s a nasty surprise after you refuel the car and buy the obligatory fountain drink, so remember to just skip the first one and continue on), until eventually getting to Lee Trevino with a 7-11 on the left hand side (it’s the next light after the Valero Corner Store, my new favorite convenience store, on your left).
Eventually after a few twists it crosses I-10 West, and you can take it from there all the way to South Phoenix.
My hotel happens to be on Mesa at exit 11, not exit 19, which apparently I-10 crosses twice.
I chose to spend the night ($55 before tax) at a hotel in El Paso instead of pressing on all the way to Phoenix in one day. Though if you do go this route and choose to stay at the BayMont Inn and Suites, be sure to test the wireless internet access before it gets to late. Apparently they can’t fix a broken access point after a certain time at night because the entry to the access point is in one of the rooms. Their alternative was to go down to the lobby. I thought that if the access point needed to be rebooted we could cut the power to that room for 60 seconds, but I did not offer this solution since it seemed unlikely to be followed.
It took me from 4PM – 11PM (10PM local time) in total. Of course I had quite a few detours, and had to drive 5 miles slower due to it being at night for most of the trip, and drove into a 40 miles an hour wind while in Texas, calm weather in New Mexico, then high cross winds right after crossing the state line into Texas again that caused me to slow to 50 in some places.
Not to mention the mountains required a few speed reductions down to 40 mph.