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Discussion in 'Tejas and the Gulf States' started by Kürbczech, Nov 24, 2010.
Damn! I was there that day!
Dudes ridin' Jawa's with workboots and skirts on will kick your ass every time!
What I know about Van Horn, Texas
I spent 2 days in Van Horn recently after my motorcycle died on I-10. I didn't want to be there but there was no way to get out of that town. Truly, it was a Twilight Zone experience. I don't know a lot about Van Horn, but I wanted to tell you what I observed in the past 24 hours.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town had a population of 2,435 in 2000, with a total area of 2.9 square miles. From the looks of it, 1,435 have departed for other, better places and the remaining 1,000 denizens are all related in some way.
I counted over 30 hotels (all but two proudly advertise a rate of $29.95, though there aren't many takers) and half of those are closed/out of business. Maybe they should have charged $25.95, or maybe they should have opened hotels in other, better places.
The attached photo must be old, as at least two of the establishments shown (Best Western Hotel and GoodYear Auto) have since closed down. I noticed that at one of the closed down gas stations, the last sale on the rusted pump reflected 20 gallons of gasoline for $26.00. Not too shabby.
The folks here are pretty nice. Everyone is quick to talk to strangers and ask them why they're in town. The local citizenry asks lots of questions about how much motorcycles cost, why a traveler would come to Van Horn and other questions that require no answers...just sad chuckles.
The townsfolk that I met were eager to share stories, often painfully personal, about the other townsfolk with whom I'd interacted. I did not know that the tow truck driver was a philandering drunk who had swindled friends and family members out of money. I had no idea that the mechanic drank too much and was probably too hungover to come into work. How could I have known that I stayed in the wrong hotel in the worst part of town? The tow truck driver brought me to this hotel as his cousin worked here and would give me a discounted rate (how much can you discount $29.95, really?). And the "good" part of town has yet to be seen. Truth be told, I haven't walked the entire 2.9 miles yet, so maybe it gets a lot better.
It's hot in Van Horn and that may be why everyone left or is planning to leave. The die-hards can't explain what drew people here in the first place. Was it oil? Minerals? What would make people want to come -- and more curiously -- to STAY here? I could find no tangible answer to this mystery, even after asking several locals. The interviews did reveal a lot about the other townspeople, though.
Since it appears that not many families have swimming pools at their houses, they often use the hotel pools. I observed three families (actually six families arrived in 3 cars) enjoying a day at the pool of the hotel where I was staying. They brought picnic items and music and parked their cars directly in front of the pool area. Later, when it hit 102 degrees, more of their friends arrived to the delight of the actual hotel guests.
There are large, corporate gas stations on both ends of town, right off of the freeway exits. Those attract lots of travelers looking to get out of the heat and gas up as they get going east or west into more hot desert. The gas stations attract the locals, too, who congregate at the restaurant areas, much like you or I would meet at a local eatery. Entire families line up behind rolling hot dog machines and eat standing up near the gas pumps. They look at the travelers coming in and going out and don't say much unless approached.
TRAVELER: "How far is it to El Paso?"
LOCAL: "El Paso, Texas? My sister is in El Paso. At least she WAS. Ain't heard from her for two years. TWO YEARS, can you believe that? Over a lousy 50 bucks, too."
TRAVELER: "So, El Paso is close?"
LOCAL: "Oh, yeah, it's like a hunnert miles, but you wouldn't know that from her visits. She married some cop or something and they moved out of here. Bet she doesn't need that 50 dollars now."
And that's a common theme in Van Horn. Heat, people leaving, people talking about others leaving. Stuff like that.
Anyhow, that's my impression of Van Horn. But I don't know much about it as I was only passing though.
Great story, thanks for sharing. I've been through there-remind me to never break down around there.
I met more total jerks per square ft in Luckenbach poss than anywhere I've ever been. In March of this yr I spent 12 days in THC and loved every min of it except Luckenbach. I stopped on my way in and picked up a steak to cook for supper when I got to a place to camp but when I rolled thru there I wanted to stay a while. I went in to the bar to get a drink and asked William Lee Golden (bar tender) if anyone would mind if I cooked my steak out there at a picnic table and he said "yeah they'd mind..." so I got back on the bike and rode off. He didn offer any explanation at all and they didn serve food so I really dont know what the problem was. The only thing I could figure was maybe he wasn't a breast fed baby...
It could have been worse... Kent is just down the road...
woah. just looked it up.
Those people that live in Van Horn are there because thats where their car broke down and they have never been able to continue to their original destination or they didn't know where they were going in the first place and thats where they ran out of gas and money . If you think about that while talking to one of them it will almost make you start laughing but dont because then they will want you to let them in on the joke .
David. lol A long time ago I had a couple friends living in El Paso. I drove out there in my smokin' aluminum block Vega "fake woody" stationwagon. (Yup. I was that cool back then, too.) We went out and hiked the Gila or the Guads or somewhere. Took their car. Trip over, I headed back home. Every time I got on that long uphill headed into Sierra Blanca or maybe it was between between SB and VH, the damn car literally wouldn't make it up the slight but continuous grade. I'd head back to EP, work on it a little and try again. That effin magnet kept grinding on me in virtually the same spot.
I'm betting that grade accounts for half the population right there.
It's that whole time continueum vortex thing...By the way I had a choice between a Pinto and a Vega, glad I picked the Pinto!
The place you should NEVER breakdown is Lordsburg NM.
I spent the better part of a week there one afternoon.
It's sorta like Van Horn, only hotter, drier, dirtier, and without the friendly people.
The best part of Kent is the road south to Fort Davis and on to Alpine. 118 is a great ride.
The OP has been advised to stay out of most cities in Texas. Nice.
Any place with over 100,000 population (not only Texas!), and only do those over 30,000 at night or on weekends.
The Dixie Chicken in College Station. STFO!!
Let me add The Pines Country Club in Texarkana. It's technically in Arkansas but the Texans come there to drink.
You definitely need to have a knife or gun on you to stand a fighting chance of getting out alive.