Salt Flat Texas

 Posted by at 6:06 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 112009

We’ve been in a lot of RV parks over the years, from upscale resorts with every amenity you could imagine, to mom and pop places where they call you by name and tell you about their grandkids as you check in. But I don’t think we have ever been to one as nasty as Parkview RV Park in Fort Stockton, Texas. If we had taken the time to look the place over Friday evening when we checked in, we would have kept on driving and found a rest area or a truck stop to spend the night in. But we didn’t, so we have nobody but ourselves to blame.

There were a few nice RVs there, mostly overnighters, I’m sure, but the majority looked to be parked there long term. Run down trailers with trash piled up outside the doors, beer cans and dog crap laying all around, and a general air of neglect.

Yesterday morning when I went outside to unhook our water and electric and get ready to leave, two pit bulls ran up at me snarling and baring their teeth. I yelled at them and they stopped a few feet short of me and stood there, growling. About that time a fellow came out of one of the long term trailers and said “Just ignore them. They’re just challenging you. They won’t bite. They do that to everybody.” I told him I’d appreciate him calling the dogs inside, but he told me to ignore them again.

I’ve seen what a pit bull can do to a human being, and before I continued unhooking, I went back into the bus and stuck a Glock in my back pocket. The dogs stood their ground, but never came any closer, which I’m glad for. 

Now, before anybody goes off on me about how pit bulls have an undeserved reputation, or saying that I should have called the manager or the police, don’t waste your breath. I love good dogs, but I will not tolerate a dangerous animal. I’ve written enough newspaper stories about pit bull attacks first hand to want to listen. The manager of this place obviously doesn’t care or he wouldn’t allow people to have those kinds of dogs running loose. And I wasn’t about to sit there for a couple of hours waiting for the cops to show up on a non-emergency call.  Since the owner would not corral his animals, I would have defended myself if they had come at me. End of story.

We drove 120 miles west on Interstate 10, and the bus performed well, cruising right along and climbing the hills without getting hot. Of course, it was a much cooler day than Friday was. When we left Fort Stockton, it was 45 degrees.

At Van Horn we topped off our fuel tank, then followed State Route 54 north for 55 miles. This nice two lane road follows a couple of mountain ranges with awesome views, and except for an occasional dip, it’s a flat route.

At the junction with U.S. Highway 180/62 we turned west and passed through Salt Flat, which is nothing but a couple of old buildings and a historical marker telling the story of the El Paso Salt War.

It seems that for centuries, Mexicans and Apache Indians came here to collect salt from an ancient lake bed. In the 1870s, a couple of white businessmen from El Paso claimed the land and then demanded that the Mexican salt collectors pay them for harvesting what they had collected for generations for free. Hostilities broke out, and by the time the matter was resolved several men had been killed and the United States and Mexico were on the brink of war.

Twenty or so miles past Salt Flat we rached our destination, the home of our friends Mike and Pam Steffen. Mike taught classes with us at Life on Wheels and is a well known RV columinist. You’ve probably read his articles and columns in Thousand Trails magazine, Trailer Life and such. Mike and Pam have a big spread here, with a bunch of friendly dogs for me to get my puppy fix with, including yes, a very gentle pit bull. I spent the evening getting licked and tussled by my puppy pals, and loved every minute of it.

This is one of the small handful of places where we have not been able to get online with our Verizon aircard. But Mike was kind enough to leave his WiFi connection open for us. We’ll be here a couple of days before we continue our trek west.

Thought For The Day –  “The duty of the press is to print the truth and raise hell” Mark Twain

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Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  14 Responses to “Salt Flat Texas”

  1. Hey Nick, you should use http://www.rvparkreviews, the best website regarding RV parks & campgrounds. You would have been forewarned about the Parkview; it really is a dump . I always report these scary places to PA- hope you will too. See you in AZ.

  2. The link in the previous comment should be It lloks like a good website to remember.

    That campground sounds scary. One night there sounds like one night too many.

  3. Nick, you didn’t mention the local delicacy there in Van Horn, TX — “diesel fried chicken”! Actually, the sign is on a defunct restaurant there near the Pilot fuel stop:

  4. Whew, glad your encounter with the dogs didn’t turn into a tragedy for you or the dogs. Just think what might have happened if you came out of your bus with a small dog of your own? The dogs “challenge” might have ended in a disaster. I really dislike irresponsible dog owners especially of powerful dogs that can be really dangerous. And this comment is coming from a long time dog owner.

    Safe travels! Love your blog.

  5. Nick,

    We almost stayed at Parkview last year, but I was determined to boondock as we headed for Quartzsite in early January. I think we had 24 rigs in the small Walmart lot that night.

  6. We made that same mistake last year and check PA booklet and stayed at Parkview also after a long day on the road…..what a mistake. Lousy place and nasty. Funny, but about 20 miles west of there was Saddleback RV Park in Balmorhea, TX. Very nice, well kept park behind a Fina gas station, convenience store and small restaurant. We actually stopped there for diesel and ate breakfast after staying in Ft. Stockton. We’ll remember Balmorhea on our next trip west in April.

    Love the new blog page…..renewal of subscription in the mail…..keep up the great work …..

    Bobbie Chapman

  7. There must be something about the area that sets a negative tone. We spent one night up the road at the Flying J in Pecos. It is the worst J in the system. Food was poor, service was poor, attitude was poor; in fact, the whole area looked poor and worn down. Travel safe, and run cool.

  8. I have always believed that dogs, like children are very often a reflection of the people who are raising them. Your description of the dog owner makes my case.

    We stayed at Parkview RV Park in 2005 and it was a PA park at the time. Nothing to write home about but OK for a one night stay. It appears to have gone downhill considerably since then. I hope you pass along your experience to the Passport America people.

  9. There are certain dog breeds that a vet friend of mine will not treat (she said the owners either will not or are unable to control that kind of dog, in her experience…showed me a door in one of her exam rooms that still bore the marks from one dog that she had given enough sedatives to that should have dropped a horse and it was STILL uncontrollable. She refers such animals to another vet…saying it was not worth the risk to the health of herself and her staff). Funny thing about dog breeds….some breeds are generally always good dogs and some most often not….but again maybe it is the types of people who raise both.

    So nice you warn others of places NOT to go to, as well as the good places to stay!!

  10. Thanks for the warning on Parkview, Nick. We have thought of staying there but have always had enough time to go on past.

    On the dogs, I totally agree. I always carry pepper spray with me when walking Poppy – our Australian Shepard. I have encountered too many irresponsible dog owners in the past, plus stray dogs. (It works well on people too, but that is another issue.) Even with the Glock, you ought to have some pepper spray for the human encounters…..(I’d say they are easier to hit when blind, but I don’t want to be flamed….;))

  11. Dang Nick. Salt Flat is about as much in the middle of nowhere as where we are outside of Bouse. I was through there last year. Really desolate out through there.
    Dogs are generally what their owners make them, no matter what breed.

  12. Nick, we may have a nasty park to compete with Parkview. In 2007 we went through Marathon and pulled into a park listed in the Escapees Book. We didn’t have Trailer Life in the truck to check a rating but thought for one night how bad could it be….Well we pulled in and had queasy feelings. Lee went to the “office” to check in but no one was around so we started pulling out and a lady came out of another building but we told her we decided to drive on further. We stayed at a nice park in Alpine. The park in Marathon isn’t listed in Escapees or Trailer Life this year and hopefully it is no longer in business.

  13. Nick and Terri,

    Thanks for the heads up on Parkview RV. We will steer clear.
    I’ve been paying some attention to your latest route. That’s definately the long way around Texas, but that’s why we’re out there, to see more than Interstate.

    Leigh and I are leaving for Arizona late this week. I hope to stop at Roswell NM along the way. I always wanted to a spooky travel story about that place.
    We hope to meet you guys at the AZ Gypsy Rally. I ultimately need to find a writing gig and make some money in order to go full time.

    Take care and may your engine stay always cool.

    Larry Clifton

  14. About the pit bulls, I spent 25years as a Detroit Cop, one day he got a run to a house where the family pet bite the baby, it was a pit bull that they had for ten years, it bite there 3 month old daughters leg while she was in the crib. Medics took the baby to the hospital and Animal Control took the dog to the pound to be destroyed. The family got a lawyer and ended up getting the dog returned to them. Three months later we got another run to the same house for a dog attack, when we got there the now six month old daughter was chewed beyond recognition and dead. My partner shot the dog right there in the living room. A week later they got another lawyer and filed a complaint against us for killing their dog.

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