Fort Stockton, Texas — 1112.9 miles
Actually, the general direction today was East, but that’s not the point.
I plunged into downtown El Paso this morning to see about this business of highway terminuses (termini?), and discovered (for future reference, perhaps) that it’s probably easier to navigate Sun City without resorting to Interstate 10. That said, I eventually got back on I-10, just to get out of town, and got as far as Van Horn, where US 90 begins.
Old 90 isn’t quite dead yet: there’s some small amount of traffic, and the Border Patrol has a checkpoint thereupon. (I passed, I think.) As is often the case, there’s a rail line running more or less parallel to the road, and it was pretty busy today. I landed in fabled Marfa, Texas a tad after high noon.
As a tourist destination, Marfa makes a pretty fair small Texas town, albeit in better repair than most. As you might expect, there’s an ornate courthouse:
And outside that courthouse, a list of the town’s honored war dead:
And various repurposed buildings, including this nicely-redone theater:
But if you come in from the west, as I did, the first thing Marfaesque you encounter is this:
Thirty miles west of town, in fact: it draws your attention because, well, there’s nothing else there. (The white sedan reflected in the glass? Mine.) This is why it’s there.
From there, I proceeded to Alpine, the last home town of H. Allen Smith, and an artsy place in its own right, due to the presence of a fair-sized state university. I followed 90 to Marathon, where I picked up US 385, one of the roads I’d always been curious about, ever since I was a kid with a shoe box full of road maps. The road is 1200 miles long, and yet it manages to avoid major cities whenever possible. The segment from Marathon to Fort Stockton runs 58 of those miles, and for about twenty minutes I saw no other vehicles at all.
I did, however, catch a sign, at the Pecos County Line, to the effect that the road tends to flood and I should be careful. And they weren’t kidding:
Although I doubt the water ever got this high:
Which, incidentally, is right across the road from that flood gauge, near Panther Mesa (elevation 4206 feet).
I pulled into Fort Stockton around 3:10, and reported to the hotel desk, where an implausibly-beautiful woman (the owner of the place, if the signage is to be believed) regretted to inform me that the place had been open only three days, and they were still working on getting the elevator working, and all the available rooms were on the second or third floors. Fine, I said, stairs won’t kill me. As is my wont, I checked the room before schlepping up my stuff, and apparently housekeeping hadn’t gotten to it yet. I informed Miss Universe, who gave out with a look of genuine anguish. By coincidence, by the time they got the placed cleaned up, the elevator guys were finished, so I and my two and a half bags got to christen the new lift. I suppose I could whine, but I got this room for free by saving my frequent-driver points or whatever, so I may not even mention that none of the electrical outlets on the east wall seem to be connected to actual power.
As usual, you can see these same pix, only different, at Flickr.