Crossing Texas

Carlsbad, NM

After two pleasant days in New Orleans we left Bayou Segnette State Park and continued our journey west.  With all the reports we read about the terrible road condition of I-10 from New Orleans to Lafayette we decided to take US 90 to Lafayette.  It turned out to be a good decision as US 90 is a smooth four lane road that only goes through a few small towns.

US 90 headed north

Rice fields along US 90

US 90 became a bit bumpy for the lasts ten miles or so as we approached Lafayette, but all in all it was a pleasant ride.  US 90 intersects with the interstate in Lafayette.  We turned west on I-10 and found the highway going into Texas to be in great shape.

Where else would you see a mile marker with a number this high but Texas?

Our next stop was south of Houston in Stafford, TX where we would stay overnight in the Elks Lodge.  We headed there to have a brief visit with friends, Paul and Marsha Weaver (Where’s Weaver), who have been staying in the Elks for the past couple of months.  Marsha advised us to get through Houston by 3:00 PM to avoid heavy traffic so we left Bayou Signette very early in the morning.  Unfortunately, about 20 miles into Texas traffic in both directions came to a complete stop due to a terrible accident (with two deaths).  After two and a half hours to move three miles we finally cleared the area of the accident and resumed normal speed.  But the delay caused us to go through the center of Houston at the worst possible time!

Downtown Houston skyline

Driving through an unfamiliar city in a large vehicle during rush hour after dark is not our idea of a good time!  We could just imagine what all those commuters in a rush to get home were saying about a 40 foot motorhome in their path!

Yikes, what are we doing here?

But we arrived at the Elks safely and were greeted by the Weavers, who showed us the great site they had reserved for our use.  Once we were set up we walked over to their RV and enjoyed a wonderful meal that Marsha had prepared.   After a wonderful home cooked meal and some great conversation, we returned to our motorhome tired from our long (11 hours and 376 miles) day’s journey.

Paul, Marsha, and Bella

The next morning they drove us to a nearby chain coffee house so we could pick up a treat for our next journey.  Then after saying our good-byes we headed on down the road.  Paul and Marsha will be traveling west next week, and we plan to meet up again in Arizona.

Leaving Stafford we headed west on Us-90 through the town of Sugarland.  US-90 runs parallel to I-10 so we took it thinking it would be a nice alternative to traveling interstate.  But after about 20 miles we were glad to drive a few miles north and return to I-10.  A strong crosswind and heavy construction trucks speeding by us in the opposite direction made the ride on US-90 a bit uncomfortable.  But I-10 is in great shape so we continued west with only the crosswinds making things a bit of a challenge for the driver.  We took a beltway (TX-1604) around San Antonio and re-joined the interstate continuing on to the little town of Junction, where we had a reservation at Junction North Llano River RV, a nice little park just south of the highway.

North Llano River RV

The next morning we left Junction and continued west on I-10.

West of Junction the scenery began to get interesting

After about 200 miles (our shortest drive in this trek across Texas), we stopped for the night at Fort Stockton RV Park, about five miles east of Fort Stockton.

Fort Stockton RV Park

After setting up we unhooked the Jeep and headed into Fort Stockton to buy a few groceries.  While passing through town we spotted something interesting, a giant roadrunner statue.  The bird even has a name: Paisano Pete.  Built in 1979, Paisano Pete was for many years the World’s Largest Roadrunner.  At 22 feet long and 11 feet tall, he’s still pretty big.

Paisano Pete

The next morning we planned to complete our trek across Texas and drive to Carlsbad, NM.  We intended to take the most direct route, US-285, for a drive of about 150 miles.  But a Facebook post from our friend, MonaLiza (Lowes RV Adventure), warned us that we might want to reconsider.  She and Steve had taken this route a couple of years ago and said it is the worst road they had ever driven in their motorhome (and they have driven to Alaska!).  The road passes right through an oilfield and the pavement has been severely damaged by heavy truck traffic.  The truck traffic is still very heavy with the large vehicles traveling in both directions at high rates of speed.  We’ve experience this type of thing in North Dakota (in a car) and didn’t want to do it again.  So we took another look at the map and decided to take a much longer (about 240 miles) but safer route.  For the first leg of the journey we continued west on I-10 for 125 miles to the town of Van Horn.   In Van Horn we turned north on TX-54 for 55 miles.

A little art work in the middle of nowhere along I-10

TX-54 turned out to be a very nice route with almost no traffic.  It also had the nicest scenery we have seen in our trek through Texas.

Mountain views along TX 54

Long straight path on TX 54

The north end of TX-54 terminates at US-62 where we turned north for the final 50 mile leg of our trip to Carlsbad, NM.  The highway soon went up a fairly steep grade as we entered the southern edge of the Guadeloupe Mountains before leveling out the rest of the way to Carlsbad.

Going up the edge of the mountains

The road we just traveled is way out in the distance

Rain is in the forecast for the next couple of days so we are settled in at the Carlsbad RV Park.  But the rain will not bother us much since we are here to visit Carlsbad Caverns National Park.  It shouldn’t be raining inside of the caves.

Carlsbad RV Park

More on our visit to Carlsbad in our next post . . .

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19 Responses to Crossing Texas

  1. Ingrid says:

    Doesn’t it seem like Texas will never end? We are well acquainted with much of Interstate 10 considering we trek back and forth between Corpus Christi and Phoenix. We’ve never stopped at the Caverns and look forward to your posts.

    • placestheygo says:

      Yes, Ingrid, Texas went on forever! And not much to see for most of it. Do try to fit in a visit to Carlsbad Caverns. You won’t be disappointed:) And the walk down from the natural entrance is an experience in itself.

  2. pmbweaver says:

    So fun to see you two. Even for a few hours. The many back roads of TX are excellent to travel on. What a pretty drive on TX 54.
    No matter what the weather outside, be sure to dress warm for the Cavern. What an awesome experience. Are you planning to visit the Living Desert Zoo & Gardens State Park? It was very very nice

    • placestheygo says:

      Today the cavern was actually pleasant after the dreary cold outside. I ended up taking off both my jacket and sweatshirt. No, we aren’t visiting the Living Desert Zoo. We are only here for two days and tomorrow is another wet, cold day.

  3. exploRVistas says:

    Junction is a friendly little town. We stayed at Morgan Shady and found it to be peaceful. The sweetest little lady runs the place. Can’t wait to head back that way!

  4. Sherry says:

    Thanks for the heads up about I-10 in Louisiana and the 90 alternative. Have to write that down. You make a ‘seems to take forever” trip across Texas some very quick. Don’t know how you did 376 miles including through Houston in the dark. Not sure I would have been coherent enough to chat with friends. Carlsbad is on my list. Looking forward to your posts.

  5. We appreciate the heads up about I 10 since we are headed to Carlsbad and on to Texas in March. 376 and Houston… Good of your friends to have dinner ready.

  6. Paula Burr says:

    You were wise to avoid highway 285. We did the drive from Fort Stockton to Carlsbad via 285 a couple of years ago in our 40′ RV and it was awful! HUGE, bone jarring potholes and so many trucks whizzing by and riding our bumper ! By the time we reached Carlsbad we were both completely frazzled. Didn’t help that we were newbie RVers but I think anyone would find that road taxing. The Caverns were great though! Be sure to hike in and out rather than using the elevator – really adds to the experience!

  7. Love to see the route you took. When we went through Houston our niece put us on her ex pass and we took the toll road. Not a fan of that place with all the fly overs. We’re going to Quartzsite next week. Gotta experience at least once.
    Safe travels

  8. Im so glad John found an alternative route which is a beauty compared to 285. You just saved your MH 🙂
    Driving through Houston isn’t a walk in the park, it;s very stressful. Hope to meet the Weavers this winter in AZ!

  9. Mary says:

    Wow, so many miles. You guys made good time crossing Texas. We’ve never been there but hear all the stories.

  10. montanaclarks says:

    We like alternative routes–very much! My Mom and Dad had an exchange student from Holland and she became a member of our family. While she was with Mom and Dad, the entire family drove out to Wyoming (pre-Michael) to visit me and snowmobile in Yellowstone Park. Micah said about Texas, “In Europe if you travel for two days you are most definitely in another COUNTRY, if you travel two days in Texas, you are still in TEXAS.”

  11. What a brutal drive into Houston! Very fortunate to be greeted by friends and a home cooked meal! Welcome back to the West!

  12. I’m sure everyone stuck in that traffic was very jealous of your onboard plumbing 🙂 Sounds like a grueling drive, super great that dinner was waiting for you. Bet you’re loving seeing the mountains again – love seeing them in your pics. We’re stopping for a night in Junction as well – that last stretch out of the state looks soooooo far!

  13. Laurel says:

    Looks like you found a great alternative to that crazy rollercoaster part of I-10 that runs through Louisiana. Thanks for the heads up about other alternative routes, too — I think we took that terrifying drive on US-285 to Carlsbad last spring. I’ve blocked it out of my mind. 🙂 I can’t believe you guys are already in New Mexico! We always putter along because there’s lots we like to do in Texas (we’ve been many times, and still haven’t seen everything we want to see!). But I know you’re ready to get back to your beloved red rock country!

  14. geogypsy2u says:

    Oh how I hate that kind of traffic, especially in our big rigs. Thank you to Paul and Marsha for being on the end of that long day. Never been a fan of TX, except for the Guadeloupe Mountains. Glad you arrived on nice drives. BTW, it can rain inside the caves. 😉

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