Rocking, rolling, and bouncing in the truck while pulling a trailer along freeways, highways, bi-ways, and farm to market roads for 3,000+ miles takes a toll on the equipment. On Monday, February 20, rain pelted the truck and trailer a few miles outside of Fredericksburg, and then the trailer’s running lights failed to glow under cloudy skies. Great, something to fix.
On our way, we made reservations rather than end up driving around after sundown looking for a place to stay. Four rigs pulled into the entrance of Fort Stockton RV Park ahead of us, and we figured we were in for a long wait. Good thing we had called ahead because a man in a golf cart pulled us out of line, showed us to our spot, and said to check-in later when the office was not so busy.
The rain decreased to sprinkles allowing us to set up without getting too wet. We arrived with plenty of time before dinner, so I checked out the laundry room. A sour mildew odor smacked me in the face as soon as I opened the door. I didn’t bother to enter, just shut the door and walked away. Not doing my laundry in there.
We drove into town for a good dinner at Alfredo’s Mexican Restaurant, stopped at AutoZone to pick up a replacement fuse for the running lights, and with a little daylight left before sunset, we checked out Historic Fort Stockton, which had already closed for the day.
The complex includes original and reconstructed buildings that depict officer and enlisted men’s living quarters, guardhouse, kitchen, and parade grounds. Established as Camp Stockton in 1858, then abandoned in 1861 during the civil war, Colonel Edward Hatch, Commander of the 9th Cavalry, reestablished the fort in 1867 with buildings completed in 1868.
Living History Day is held the third weekend in October at the Fort where life in the 1800s at Fort Stockton is reenacted with cannon drills, Native Americans and teepees, Texas Camel Corps, baseball, and a chuck wagon.
Maybe it was the gloomy weather or the temporary women’s restroom, but most likely it was the stinky laundry room. In any case, one night in Fort Stockton was enough for us. The one welcome surprise was the onsite café that served up a reasonably priced and delicious breakfast. It’s always nice to start a day of driving with a hearty meal of pancakes, eggs, sausage, and a cup or two of hot coffee. The bonus of not having to cook it or clean up the mess afterward was a treat.
A couple we met a few weeks back recommended the Little Vineyard RV Park in Deming NM. Since we missed seeing the Enchanted Rock when in Fredericksburg, I thought the City of Rocks State Park might make up for my disappointment. On to Deming.
We arrived at Little Vineyard with plenty of time to throw in a couple loads of wash. When I walked into the laundry room, I was pleased to see a woman cleaning the washers and sweeping the floor. No stinky smells here, only the freshness of cleaning products wafted in the air.
We’re not sure how Little Vineyard got its name because there was no sign of grape vines near the place. There are two wineries in or near town though, Luna Rosa Winery and St. Clair Winery. Unfortunately, we had no time to visit and partake in a tasting.
I already had seen a doctor after the little dog bit me in San Antonio. Now I needed a dentist. A portion of a filling fell out of a molar while eating risotto for dinner and more came out after breakfast. I didn’t really want to have an unknown dentist jam his fingers and tools in my mouth, but I was more afraid of my tooth breaking. Fortunately, Dr. Trevor Williams of Deming Dental Services fit me in at 2:00 pm to confirm my suspicion, and again at 4:00 pm to do the repair. Darn, no City of Rocks for me.
In between my dentist appointments, we managed to visit the Deming Luna Mimbres Museum, housed in the old National Guard Armory, which is on the National Register of Historic Places and is a State Historic Site. For a city with a population 14,000 to 15,000 and a county population of only 25,000, volunteers have managed to curate an impressive array of historical artifacts for their museum over the past forty years.
Farm and military equipment are displayed outside the museum, as well as a memorial to the men who served in the 200th/515th Coast Artillery Anti-Aircraft Regiments during World War II in the Philippines. The monument lists every New Mexico soldier who was a prisoner of war during the Bataan Death March. Of the 1,900 that went to the Philippines, only 900 returned home.
Inside, rooms and display cases group the artifacts into themes or categories. These include a doll room; military room; art gallery; transportation annex; collections of nutcrackers, bells, and beer steins; Native American crafts; a Mimbres Indians pottery room; and more. The main street display was my favorite because it was like walking downtown and passing stores or service establishments. Such businesses included a barber and beauty shop; grocery, hardware and clothing stores; a café; and a funeral parlor. After seeing the implements of torture in the mocked up dental office, I was glad dental technology had improved considerably during the past century or so.
The old jail caught my eye. It was in use at the Luna County jailhouse from 1918 to 1975.
The Diamond A chuck wagon, built in Deming around 1900, had its own fenced-off section.
I also liked looking at all the old transportation vehicles.
The replica of the silver spike used to join the Atchison, Topeka, & Santa Fe Railroad and the Southern Pacific Railroad was used during the March 7, 1981, Deming centennial celebration. Founded in 1881 by railroad employees, Deming received its name from Charles Crocker, President of Southern Pacific. Crocker’s wife’s maiden name was Deming.
The Harvey House, designed in the architectural style of Midwestern towns rather than Indian or Mexican styles, operated from the 1880s to 1930s.
We made the Luna County Courthouse our final stop for the day. Constructed in the architectural style of the Midwest, it is located 10 blocks south of the downtown business district. Originally built in 1910 and 1911, an extension was added in 1963, and major renovations occurred in 2007.
That’s it for Fort Stockton and Deming, except someday I’ll return to see the City of Rocks. Next stop Tucson AZ.