A Midline Post – Traversing the Texas Badlands

This is just going to be a quick post to tell you where I am, and then I’ll be backtracking to talk about places I’ve already been but didn’t have time to write about before.

Today I’m in Balmorhea State Park, which is in the middle of nowhere Texas. It’s beautiful, but I wouldn’t want to be here during tornado season. I am on my way from Houston to Phoenix, and last night I stayed in Kerrville, TX as my first pit stop. It’s a damn long drive, so I decided to break it up into five days since I couldn’t start my stint in Phoenix until Feb. 15.

Kerrville was the first port of call. It was not awesome. I was appreciative for a spot to stay, but it was just that… a spot. Not for the first time, I was grateful I got to my location rather late in the day.


Right next to the toilets. Score!
Right next to the toilets. Score!


I got up early the next day to make tracks to Balmorhea. I was dreading this trip. For a couple of weeks before I was going to begin this leg, I sweated about it. When I pull the Beast, the gas mileage little Gorgeous gets is utterly loathsome – about eight miles to the gallon. And when you are traversing the great divide of nothingness across the Texas badlands, and gas stations are seemingly incredibly far and few between, and you’ve just recently experienced a month of stress resulting from a dying engine, all sorts of horrendous images float across your imagination. Especially when you are driving a rig that eats up fuel with the same reckless abandon as a combine harvester.


Yikes. And this is a close-up.
Yikes. And this is a close-up.


I had plotted and replotted and plotted again my route and stops according to gas station availability. Truly nothing else mattered. There were enough shops up until Ozona, TX and then there was seemingly a vast array of zero places to fuel up for another hundred miles. Ack! Considering my vehicle barely got 130 miles to the tank, I had reason to be concerned. I did not want to be stranded in a location from which the nearest gas could be 20+ miles away, in an area where cell service was noted to be occasionally non-existent. Considering my luck so far on this adventure… well, you can imagine my concern.

However, as it turned out – everything went perfectly! Sorry folks, I actually have good news to share this time. No screw ups. No failures. Gorgeous cruised like an 80 year-old on a Hoveround – smooth as glass but slow as a turtle. I had even bought a five-gallon gas can and filled it up at KOA just to be as safe as possible, and I didn’t even need it. After Ozona, during the section between there and Balmorhea that I was worried about, it turned out there was an Exxon station (and a Chevron! Who knew!) right on I-10 at the Bakersfield exit (this is misleading… Bakersfield is nowhere to be seen for a jillion miles) handily sitting there for folks just like me. Never in my life did I think I would be so happy to see this:


When a tornado comes along to flatten this place, I'm sure that roof will resist defiantly.
When a tornado comes along to flatten this place, I’m sure that roof will resist defiantly.


I got here to Balmorhea with ease and grace. Thank you Universe!

So I’m here. And where is here? Nowheresville, USA.


2015-02-13 08.52.22 bal scenery

2015-02-13 07.59.36 bal scenery

2015-02-13 08.00.26 bal scenery


Beautiful. Amazing. Vast wide open spaces. And here is my park:


And this is the panoramic view.
And this is the panoramic view.


WTF? Why are we all crammed in to a piece of land the size of a slice of cheese? Beats me. You’d think with all this mass of acreage around they might build it so we could spread out a bit.


Bird's eye view of park.
Bird’s eye view of park.


And here is a wider perspective:


Bird’s eye view on a larger scale. I mean, in the greater scheme of things, I can see why they thought there wasn’t enough room for a bigger park.


When I first got here, I was planning to get a site that had water, electric and – whoo hoo! – cable! And then I saw what I’d get:


2015-02-13 08.48.54 bal cable
I am learning why one might need the distraction of cable.


So I forewent the cable in favor of a bit bigger of a spot and a little more room.


2015-02-13 08.01.31 bal my site


I chose the site because there was no one on either side of me, with the misguided belief that I could have a little privacy. No one for several spaces to the right, and no one could park right next to me on the left because I was on a corner.

What happened next? Some A-hole parked right next to me. I mean, I get it – there were only fourteen other open sites to choose from so the pickin’s were slim. Really?




And then someone else parked right caticorner from me in this behemoth:


Seriously? You need a Peterbilt to power... that?
Seriously? You need a Peterbilt to power… that?


Considering how far from civilization this location is, I am floored by how many people have turned up to visit this park at the exact same moment in time as I am here. It’s nearly full. So much for privacy in the middle of oblivion.

Once I was sorted, I decided I would go into “town” to fill up so I’d be ready when I wanted to leave, and to visit the grocery store for some much needed supplies. Folks, this is hill country, USA:


Main Street. Nice Dumpsters.
Main Street. All you need is the tumbleweeds. Nice dumpsters.


2015-02-12 17.24.57 balmorhea local saloon-sm
The neighborhood drinking establishment. How is it that garbage receptacles always end up in my pictures?


The local Walmart Superstore.
The local Walmart Superstore.


Thank God it was OPEN. The only supply I was able to get that didn’t have a shelf life of a thousand years was a pint of milk. I felt lucky.

Tomorrow I set sail for Lordsburg, NM and then Sunday, I will at last alight in Phoenix for a month. There I will be able to regale you with all the rest of my stories to bring you up to current. Until then, here is what I woke up to this morning:


It's a miracle I was even awake to witness this. I'm still not sure it ever really happened.
It’s a miracle I was even awake to witness this. I’m still not sure it ever really happened.


And on my walk with George, I couldn’t help but gasp in admiration and loving nostalgia at this masterpiece of recreational vehicle engineering:


Now this guy knows about cool. Does this look familiar to anyone? ANYONE?? ;)
Now this guy knows about cool. Does this look familiar to anyone? ANYONE?? 😉


Ciao everyone!


Now this is how my kids roll.
This is how my kids roll.

More to explore

2 Responses

  1. Hi Heather,
    Looks like you are doing great. I knew you would. Keep the posts coming. It looks warm there. Beats our 7 degrees here and snow on the way. Wish we were all back in Marathon. Anyway, I am enjoying all your posts as I travel with you on your journey. As always be safe and keep in touch.

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