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Connecticut River Valley, New England, United States

Friday, March 14, 2014

Skyscapes and Landscapes Deep in the Heart of Texas

Friday March 14, 2014 Roadway Inn Suite 408 San Angelo, Texas 5:38  PM CST

Covered over 300 miles today and had yet another lost hour as a result of leaving the Mountain Time Zone. Traveled in a sort of drifty mood noticing things like the appearance of the clouds over the flat, flat East New Mexico and West Texas landscape once we left Roswell and the New Mexico Military Institute, which looks like a huge castle on Main Street, behind. With nary a tree in sight it was interesting to see that the power company or telephone company, whichever erects the poles along Rt 70, provides nesting platforms every third or fourth pole and that the birds make use of them. Saw a couple of blackish birds courting at one and a lone blackish bird checking out a nest at another. Looking into the sun made it difficult to tell if they are raptors or not. In Western NY at Montezuma Wildlife Refuge the osprey make nests all along the power line and on platforms also provided them by the power company.

Much of the land between Roswell and Big Spring is flat and is used for agriculture, mostly cotton. I recognized the harvesting equipment I saw used last Fall in Alabama and sure enough we came to a coop gin and then fields in which last years chocolate brown stalks and some cotton boles still lay. Unlike in Alabama the stalks are left in the fields. With the flatness and the winds out here the topsoil would be lifted away if they weren’t a la the days of the Great Dust Bowl fiasco. The colors of the earth: chocolate brown, tan, golden, brick red, dull red are so intense and beautiful contrasting as they do with the Emerald green of the irrigated fields. The farmers are out already—harrowing, mounding, raking. Some they will be planting if they haven’t done some already. I could handle a place where the Spring is as long as our Winter, although the bugs are out, too and they don’t excite me that much.

In addition to agriculture, many of the same fields have oil rigs. Some only one or two but others around 20 or 30 and those areas smell like gas stations. We weren’t in Odessa or Midland this time, though not far from them. These are not the huge fields of rigs found in those places where the oil deposits are so very extensive.  We came into LaMesa from the north this time not from the east as we did when we were headed West. So we crossed our outward path at that point but continued on 87 to Big Spring and thence to San Angelo. This was a new route to places we’ve been on past trips. As a result we saw a different area in Big Spring with a hotel that looks to be from the 20’s or 30’s. In looking up the history of the Hotel Settles I found that I was indeed correct—it opened in October of 1930 and was the tallest building between El Paso and Ft Worth. It is seen in the opening scenes of Midnight Cowboy!  Thought it looked familiar—LOL! If you are interested in that kind of history and it is rather interesting here is a link to its story:http://www.hotelsettles.com/node/15

After Big Springs, which I am sure was probably a stop for cattle drives in the day, the land gets scrubby and seems to be range land. The flatness gives way to hills and mesas, not very high, but rolling. And this, in turn, gives rise to streams and washes, most of which are dry. The number of oil wells increases slightly and there are some agricultural fields mixed in.

After stopping at a historic sign—we missed quite a few because they are thin and parallel with the road so by the time you see them, even with a warning sign a mile before, you’ve sped past the pull out and it isn’t really sensible to backtrack—I happened to notice a strange circular pattern in the sky above the car. Sticking my head somewhat out the window I realize that the sun had a huge halo around it. Cirrus cloud ice crystals refracting the light caused a big ring around the sun with a bit of a rainbow margin. So neat. I’ve seen sun dogs on our trips and other sun, cloud images but this is my first halo outside our meteorology book and it is just the way the book says.

 After that we arrived in San Angelo—but I was so busy looking for the motel that I didn’t take pictures of the beautiful river that runs right through the center of town. We are in a Rodeway which is considered one of the lower echelon of Choice Hotels. This one, however, costs $145 for a suite so we used 16,000 points and have a two room apartment. It is every bit as nice as the other suites we’ve had in Clarion, Comfort and Quality—considered the top of the line in the chain. Have not a clue why it is classified as a Rodeway.

I’m going to take my Coke and sit out on the patio overlooking the pool to catch the last rays of the day. High today was 81—in the air conditioned car that wasn’t too bad. Have a lovely evening—will catch you up in San Antonio. Night all. KandB

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