I’m going to do a little skipping around on our Southern trip report – so bear with me. This little side “visit” to Loving County, Texas was remarkable for one reason – well, make that 82 reasons – and is worth a post all in itself.
After visiting Carlsbad Caverns (and the nearby Guadalupe Mountains National Park) we drove down into the dusty Big Bend region of Texas. Instead of dropping down into Van Horn (we were headed for Marfa) – we headed east and onto Highway 285 towards Pecos. Loving County is just a stone’s throw from the highway and an easy drive into the county seat of Mentone.
Or at least I thought it would be an easy drive. Apparently Mentone’s population (regularly 19 and the second smallest county seat after Brewster, Nebraska) at least doubled that day with all the truck traffic running in and out of the main drag through the town. I was literally the only car in a line of 4-5 trucks pulling into the county seat. I understand oil drives this town (big surprise) but man, this place was hopping compared to the towns we’d seen on our more northerly route into Carlsbad just a few days before (namely Snyder and Lamesa).
That said, Mentone has a nice-sized county courthouse, a post office tucked away inside a mobile home and a diner (which we assumed was part of the quite weathered (to be polite) service station. A nice little picnic area sits right outside of town surrounding a marker noting the “Old Butterfield Stagecoach Road” a the first ever cross-country service to combine passenger and mail service in one route. One must wonder of the perils awaiting these early roadies in trips that would take upwards to a month’s time.
We peeled out of Loving just as fast as we came in – and a truck driver didn’t care much for us pulling out in front of him as he quickly gained on us and rode our bumper doing 80. He obviously had somewhere to be. All said, our two minutes in Mentone weren’t any more remarkable than for the fact we we’re possibly the first two people from our respective home towns to set foot in this place (I often wonder about that in many of the remote or oddball places we visit). Crazier yet, though, is where do the other 63 people in Loving County live? The dry land around the county is relatively lifeless and no homes or ranches could be seen in the surrounding area as we drove through. Make no mistake, though – where there is oil, though, there will be people…no matter how inhospitable it is.
More pictures below…