Saturday, January 26, 2019
We left Las Cruces, NM on January 23rd, destination Fort Stockton, Texas for a night’s stay. The plan was to skirt El Paso taking the El Paso Bypass, highway 375 but when we got close not one truck headed for it. Hmmmm, maybe we should just stay on I-10 and bite whatever bullet the El Paso traffic throws at us. So we followed the trucks through the very large city. We hit some stop and go traffic before the downtown area. Now I’m starting to second guess our decision. I think half of the city’s 683,000 souls are all attempting to use the freeway as we pass through. However, the traffic jam broke after a couple of miles and proceeded, slowly at first then at a reasonable pace.
El Paso lies right on the U.S./Mexico border. Cuidad Juarez, El Paso’s neighbor directly across the Rio Grande River is very visible from the highway. Juarez is a pretty rough place to live as I understand. Drug cartels and gangs have invaded the city making it not so nice a place to visit, or live for that matter. Just a few years ago Juarez was rated the most violent city in the world! Juarez’s population is over 1.3 million souls- a lot of them not happy souls…….
What lies ahead is hour after hour of nondescript desert as the road takes us southeast. The mountains in Mexico start to fade into the distance. As we near Van Horn signs indicate an inspection station lies ahead.
It’s the same place that a service dog made a hit on our sewer pipe in 2011 that caused us a bit of havoc. At that time a young Border Patrol agent asks-“Do you have weapons?” A pocket knife and kitchen knives. “Take your knife out of your pocket. Don’t put your hands in your pocket!” Jil and I are separated, mutzos left in the truck, agents search our 5th wheel but don’t toss it. We are sent on our way, but not before we thank them for their service. It was certainly a disconcerting experience, one we will never forget. This time we pass through unscathed. The Border Patrol agent waves us through and we bid each other a good day…..
Our destination for the night is Fort Stockton RV Park, another place we have visited on our last pass through this area. It’s a nicer park than the Lordsburg KOA for sure. Grass, although dormant, is planted between sites and the sites are adequately spaced. A lot of travelers show up after us and darned near fill the place up. When I register in the office I ask about the long term families living in the back of the park. The lady at the desk tells me that they are all energy workers, some petroleum, some solar and some wind, all here working in the Fort Stockton (8300+ souls) area. Originally an army post, circa 1859, the city grew up one of the largest sources of spring water in Texas, Comanche Springs.
After a restful night we are up and out by 0730 hours. The sun in western Tejas, er, Texas is just starting to rise making out drive straight into the sun somewhat difficult. 100 or so miles down the road we stop in Ozona (3400 souls).
Ozona is the seat of Crockett County. It’s also the ONLY town in Crockett County. We recall that the town square is a good place to stop and stretch. We fuel up before reaching the center of town. Diesel is $2.80 a gallon, $.55 cheaper than in Lordsburg. The last time we walked the town square a big sign stated that it was illegal to pick up the pecans that lie on the grass. This time there were none.
Mile after mile of somewhat boring country brings us to some jagged hills. For some reason the road goes right through them rather than take the easy route around. The terrain slowly changes from pretty flat to a little more hilly. The flora also changes from mostly dormant shrubs and small trees to leaf laden oaks and other varieties of shrubs and trees. We exit I-10 in favor of US Highway 290 heading east. In the town of Harper (1190 souls). Our experience tells us that Harper is typical Hill Country farm town.
This is where things get exciting. Google wants us to turn off of the perfectly fine highway 290 onto FM 2093. For you non Texans, FM stands for Farm to Market, mostly county roads, and not major ones. Real county roads have a county road designation, so I guess one could say that they are roads only locals are familiar with. FM 2093 is not 20′ feet wide, nonexistent shoulder which makes driving the 8.5′ wide beast in a 9.5′ wide lane over hill and dale a bit challenging. Luckily we meet little oncoming traffic. We pull over for the only vehicle behind us. The road dips down into drainages several times. The drainages all have a gauge reading from zero to five feet- the depth water may be running over the road. One would be wise to observe the depth of water on the road before proceeding! It’s a beautiful drive through farm and ranch country making it one of our never to forget adventures.
So after 15 miles on FM 2093 Google wants us to turn right on Leydecker Road. Naaa, we’re not going to turn down a narrow dirt road! Continuing on for a couple of miles brings us to an intersection with a major drag. We turn right. Google- “turn right in 1/4 mile”. We turn right, paralleling the airport. Google- “turn left”. We can’t turn any other way! Google- “Turn right”. Geez! Google- “turn right into Lady Bird Johnson Park”. Here’s the deal- if we would have stayed on FM 2093 to the major intersection, turned right and stayed on that street, we would have intersected with the interior road to Lady Bird Johnson Park, with is where we are spending the next there nights! Booooo, Google! You are set up to take the shortest route no matter what. Big rigs don’t like you some times!
We survived the country road and pulled into Lady Bird Johnson Municipal Park in Fredericksburg. The park is very large located on a rolling hillside right next to the municipal airport. The landing strip is large enough for small private jets. The park is nice. Lots of grass here as well as a creek and reservoir, a golf course and of course, an RV Park.
More on Fredericksburg and surrounding area in the next blog.