Fort Stockton, TX
March 17, 2015
NM 720, Black River Village Road
Upon exiting Carlsbad Caverns National Park, we turned north on US Highway 62, towards Carlsbad in a vigorous rainstorm with a chill wind and the idea of quickly connecting over to US 285, which would lead us to our destination for the day. You can follow our route via Google Maps.
We found Black River Village Road with no trouble, but within a mile or two learned to our chagrin that it was a poor excuse for a paved road. We spent quality time dodging substantial potholes and cursing the ones we hit. Then, as the road dropped into a wash a few miles later, we saw a warning sign indicating that the road ahead might not actually exist, depending on conditions. At this point of course there was no hope of a place to turn around, so we continued on, hoping for the best.
At the bottom of the wash, we found the road had elected to reduce itself by half, in deference to erosional forces that had clearly been working against it for some time. Half a road with significant water curling against the remains, attempting to further reduce it. Given the road was at least somewhat intact and we had no chance of a u-turn, we went for it, successfully pulling Rocinante across the wash. If we had it to do over again, we would have taken the long way around.
I heartily recommend future travelers avoid Black River Village Road. It's worth a lot of miles to escape the stress and wear of driving that road between US 62 and US 285. Go around. We never saw Black River Village, though the map suggests we drove right through it.
US Route 285
Clearly, this road was heavily and heartily paved with the best of intentions. Driving Route 285 in the rain is exactly how I imagine the road to Hell. This road, from Carlsbad to Fort Stockton via Pecos, TX, goes right through a very busy oil / gas patch and carries an infinite number of heavy trucks from one well to another. As a result, when each of these trucks passed in the opposite direction during the heavy rain, our vehicle was lashed with an impenetrable curtain of water, sand, and mud. Each time, there were an unnerving number of seconds before the next frantic swipe of the windshield wipers cleared the window and we could once again see the road - and the next oncoming truck.
I might as well just say it. Pecos Texas is not worth a visit. Don't add it to your itinerary. If you find that, somehow, your travel plans require passage through Pecos, you have our sympathies.
Our passage through Pecos happened shortly after the uncharacteristic downpour we described earlier. As it happens, the little town of Pecos doesn't see much rain very often. As a result, the engineers who built the roads in that town took no account of potential drainage requirements. As a result, the entire town had standing water in every intersection, to a depth of at least 2 feet. It was a distinctly unpleasant experience.
So, avoid Pecos, Texas if you can. This isn't the town you're looking for.
As an added bonus, the town of Fort Stockton also had no clue with respect to designing streets for proper drainage in the event of rain. We learned this as we entered town in hopes of filling our gas tank. Our first choice of station had a brand new lake out front, which dashed any thought of pulling Rocinante into that one without first putting our whole rig on a boat. So we continued into town until we found a less-flooded location, and then proceeded to the RV Park east of town.
So, after an exciting and unpleasant drive, we finally reached our destination for the day, the Fort Stockton RV Park.
It's a nice little campground, with a dog park and even a cafe. The folks there are really pleasant and helpful. We were so tired after a long day that we decided to try the cafe. The catfish was actually very good indeed, well worth the visit. We would definitely eat at this cafe again.
However, they have plenty of feral cats around, so don't leave anything outside unless you want them to pee on it for you. That was an unexpected and unwelcome service, performed when we weren't looking, on our doormat.
The next morning we got back on the road; Interstate 10, headed East across Texas.