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Connecticut River Valley, New England, United States

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Long Windy and Finally Cold Day

When we got up this morning the heat and humidity that hit us in the face when we opened our door was almost unbearable. The manager in no way splurges with A/C in the public places. Even breakfast was uncomfortable. It also wasn't helped by the continuing news of our possible involvement in Syria!

One of the problems of staying in a motel is that it is usually near the Interstate--this causes a problem when one arrives on a back road, but it is even more frustrating when trying to find a back road on which to leave. The easiest thing to do this a.m. was to get on I 35 toward Waco and go a bit East in order to get to FR 107 which would take us Westward once more.

All in all, the day was not starting out to terribly well and upon finding 107 the skies opened up. The weather report last night warned that we would be driving into scattered thunderstorms, some severe. Fortunately, the rains held off, more or less. The temperature on the other hand was problematic--in one hours time it dropped from 70 to 48 degrees! Needless to say that produced severe winds with which Bill had to struggle for the entire day. Nevertheless, we had fun and enjoyed the varied geography of West Texas.

As we tooled along 107 through Moody we chatted about our stay in Temple..particularly about Becca, our leggy,cowboy booted barkeep at Texas Roadhouse. Not quite sure what brought her to mind but I laughed about how she y'alled us to death and I think Bill even got a honey with his second beer. He didn't like her--said she was friendly but not warm--I said she was programmed and he agreed. With that we topped a crest and the most incredible stretch of fields in various stages of cultivation lay at our feet and as far as the eye could see. Unfortunately, the rain and haze made the picture too hazy to do the scene justice.

107 ended at Texas 36 and the city of Gatesville--the home of five of the eight Texas prisons for women including the death row unit. I've never seen such a big prison with the highest fences and the fiercest looking razor wire atop. Each corner of the campus had a high gun tower. It was impressive but too big to photograph adequately. Frightening, too. More imposing than any movie could make it.  As we drove along Bill passed a car with Texas plates--as I said " You're passing a Texan??!"  He said, " Look at That, I passed a Texas car! "  A bit later we passed a real operating Drive-In theatre and then the skies opened once more. For 32 miles it rained and the winds rose and the temperature dropped to the 40's. It was difficult to see much, much less photograph it. By Hamilton, the rains let up but the wind continued. We passed a DQ where I had wanted to get an oreo frosty drink but it had gotten too cold to have it. I probably should have stopped at the Walmart for a battery and some cards, however!

The next road, another farm road 218, passed through one forlorn town after another--Pottsville, Indian Gap, Priddy and Zephyr. This is definitely a very poor area of Texas--the fields are wind eroded to rocks and there is little evidence of any cattle, oil or agriculture. Two of the large schools are empty and vandalized. Just sad and in this weather, eerie. At one corner there was a field of grazing lambs with their adorable babies. About all the pastures will support. One Mom was on her hind legs reaching for the tree branches and her baby was trying to jump up--so precious. For one fleeting moment the sun came out and we stopped to enjoy a few minutes break and stretch of leg. In the far distance, two fences away there was a grazing herd but one fellow was very curious about our presence. There always seems to be one who just becomes interested in our passing car or our stretching our legs. The rest of the herd goes on but the nosy one just stares and stares. Funny. There were some lovely daisy-like flowers in bloom here, too.

Our enjoyment was short lived--the darkening skies and dropping temperature threatened and the wind became truly strong. Nonetheless, there were a few moments of levity--such as the Democrat Cemetery--Repubicans need not apply? and the Priddy Pirates miles from any navigable water.

Hoarde's Creek, which was narrow and totally dry, I wondered if that was why Hoarde's Lake State Park was closed. Bill laughed and said if that creek was its source--foolish man, I meant the drought.  As we took a bend in the road there was the neatest white wrought iron fancy arched entry to a ranch. In the arch in curlicue letters was its name: Oleo Acres and beneath it : Just a Cheap Spread. A rancher with a sense of humor.We passed through several more small towns of varying stages of stagnation--though one was the home of Rogers Hornsby a Hall of Fame baseball player from the 20's. Bill suspected ole Rogers hadn't retired in Winters.

Soon, we made a turn onto the last series of Farm Roads. Initially, the land was rocky and non-agricultural. The Blackwell area was oil country with new wells being dug. The MaryNeal area was nothing but a huge wind farm. The mist was so thick it was difficult to discern the windmills from the sky and background. The MaryNeal post office, about the only thing in town, was a cute little stone house. Wonder if it is one the USPS will close?
Maryneal is an unincorporated community in southern Nolan County, Texas, United States. It lies along FM 608 south of the city of Sweetwater, the county seat of Nolan County.[1] Its elevation is 2,566 feet (782 m).[2] Although Maryneal is unincorporated, it has a post office, with the ZIP code of 79535;[3] the ZCTA for ZIP Code 79535 had a population of 181 at the 2000 census.[4]
Founded in 1907 along the Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railway, the community was named for one or more people; the source of its name is disputed. In its early history, the community was more significant than it is today: it won a significant minority of the votes in an election (losing to Sweetwater) to determine the county seat, and a post office was established in Maryneal by being moved from Decker.[5]

Once past MaryNeal where the rain again obscured most everything in the immediate vicinity FR608 took a sharp hairpin turn westward.Within minutes we moved from hilly plateau country with rocky soil into flat farmland. The changing topography in this State is just amazing. We also dropped in temperature to the 30's. The farmers here use a very distinct stepped contour planting. The tiers are wide and the edge of the terrace is bermed and planted thickly with soil holding fine spreading rooted plants. The colors were so vivid--the red soil and the emerald green vegetation--very Irish looking to me. In a field left fallow for a few years the terraces look like a  gray flight of stairs.

In Colorado City we returned to an Interstate in order to best reach our Quality Inn at Big Spring. An Interstate gives fast direct travel with boring hypnotic sides. Fortunately, the wind, rain and traffic were not too awful and we covered the last 38 miles to our destination with no problems. Took a spin through town to the Texas Cajun Cafe where we opted for good old fashioned hamburgers. Back to our suite, where I blogged and Bill relaxed in the living room of our suite to watch his shows and I watched Big Bang Theory and Person of Interest. Now, I'll grab a water and watch The Mentalist before retiring for the night.

As a final note, our friend Gloria, emailed to say it is snowing in Belen, New Mexico!  Here it is 915 CST and 35 degrees. I got out a sweater, the heat is on and my sandals have been stowed. What crazy weather. Night all--stay warm or have a cold one, whichever is appropriate for your crazy meteorology.

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