On our way home, we got hit by something completely unexpected. Snow. Ice. Winter. In places where the temperatures in winter rarely dip below 50, we drove in a landscape of white. Now many of you will look at this and say, “Yeah? So what?” In Houston, we are used to getting a dusting of snow about once every 10 years. In Arizona, it is pretty much limited to the mountain areas and the northern part of the state. We were driving from Las Cruces, NM to Kerrville, TX the day the storm hit, and I became terrified. We were surrounded by drivers who had NO EXPERIENCE driving in these kinds of dangerous conditions. I was in a car with drivers who had NO EXPERIENCE driving in these kinds of dangerous conditions. I was not a pleasant passenger to say the least, and the dozens of semi trucks spun out along I-10 did not raise my confidence.
We stopped in Van Horn, TX to change drivers and eat lunch at Papa’s Pantry. This sign greeted us in the entryway of the restaurant. The place was packed with weary travelers, and the parking lot was filled with ice scrapings. The coffee was hot, the food all needed a little more salt, and the servers were clearly stretched to their limits, but overall it was a pleasant place to stop in an unpleasant situation. My son got a sandwich made with homemade bread, which was delicious, and I would highly recommend to anyone if they find they have to stop along that section of I-10.
This pretty much cemented a feeling I had already had of absolute loathing for West Texas. On our last road trip west, we stopped in Fort Stockton, which is where EVERYONE stops halfway across West Texas, because there are barely any other sizable towns in West Texas. My mother and I immediately took a dislike to Fort Stockton, which gives the impression of nothing more than a way station for guys coming and going from the oil fields. Bars, buffets, and overpriced hotels. We avoided it like the plague this time – which makes for a very long drive across the wasteland that it West Texas. No towns, no roads, no cell towers, just mountains that Arizonans laugh at, oil derricks, and wind farms.
It’s depressing as hell for this child of the piney woods.