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Connecticut River Valley, New England, United States

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Leaving Texas is a Long Haul

Hello again, Trekkies! Despite my misgivings about the quality of internet service here, it has greatly improved since last year--as has our health since last year. Some of you may remember that Bill had already been to the emergency room in Santa Rosa and that once we arrived here, I visited the medical care center twice. We were really sick, but it only got worse in the ensuing weeks. Fortunately, it is an entire different story this year. So, having gotten a late start yesterday, I once more, decided to forego visiting the Santa Fe Depot in Brownwood. The restaurant has been restored as has the hotel and I WILL see it one of these days but since they no longer serve food there, it was easy to pass once more. As it turned out, it was a wise decision on my part. Bill had looked at the map and decided that we would go as far as Roswell, NM. I didn't look at the whole picture and just mapped out our route in Texas. Big mistake. I knew that there were no Choice motels on the way to the border but hadn't realized how far Roswell was. If I had, we would have stopped once more in Texas at the Best Western we passed in some town. So, I set our course toward Ballinger. We should have gotten gas at the station near that sign--@2.02/gallon was probably one of the lowest we've seen this trip. As you can see, as one moves farther west in Texas the roads stretch long and empty and flat --scrubby mesquite under which cattle graze. Small towns whose welcome signs and flags are the most notable items in them. In some cases the welcome sign is bigger than the town. Periodically, there is an especially appealing looking home or an old store building that has character. The speed limit is 75, slowing to 65 on a bad curve and a sedate 55 when going down a main drag. I'd love to hear the Post Mills folk if the speed limit past our one store and couple of houses were 55 with 65 on the curve out of town. The selectboard members would have to disconnect their phones, the listserv bulletin board would be blazing and folks would pack the selectboard meetings. LOL And yet, these places are no smaller than that bit of Vt highway! Bill was doing 70 after slowing to 45 in town and this white haired old bird lady in a Honda with a handicap license plate blew by us and disappeared round the bend. Damned Yankees! At Ballinger we picked up a nice Texas road to Bronte and Robert Lee. Been this way many times before. We always enjoy the Maverick sign. He is actually better known for the fact that he never branded his cattle. So when roundup came and a steer was found without a brand the cowboys would say "oh, that's a Maverick!" Soon the expression became used for any wandering unbranded cattle. Then the word started being used for anyone who trod his/her own path, away from the herd. Marching to their own drummer. It even was used in the James Garner famous TV series, Maverick, used as his and his brother's surname but also indicating their unique way of life--with nothing holding them down. As has happened in so many towns that once thrived along a railroad line--the depot is there but the railroad and tracks are gone. Bronte uses theirs in a park. The Last Leg Bar and Catering Club is on its last legs! The biggest building in Robert Lee is the RLVFD!!! lol Wonder if admired young ladies of Texas still get towns named after them? Wonder for what Edith was admired? Thank goodness for these hysterical signs--after over 100 miles empty roads and ranges and small towns begin to tire and bore the driver. At least these tidbits of history provide topics of conversation and speculation. At long last we reached the Western most part of West Texas. Here is the Permian Basin-- the richest oil fields in the United States-the largest petroleum producing basin in the US. And every inch of it is covered with oil wells, refineries, storage tanks. It smells like a huge gas station and is so dirty. It is amazing how far it stretches north to south, east to west in Texas as well as part of Oklahoma. I'd forgotten it was this far north--I hate the Midland region, which is south of here. Also here in the West, there begin to be some elevation in the form of plateaus which provide nice ridges on which to build the pinwheels I love. I think they look like tumbling acrobats, or leaping ballet dancers when they twirl. I love their huge whiteness against the wide stretch of incredibly blue sky. We left this wind farm which stretches as far as the eye can see on either side of the road and turned toward Big Spring. I really like the picture I took around Sterling City of the horses near the oil rig and its storage tanks. Two of the symbols of this part of Texas. Turning toward LaMesa which means "the mesa" and which is a dusty town built in the shadow of a big mesa, we entered an area of cotton fields stretching for miles. Unlike in Alabama where the fields are cleaned of all trace of last year's crop, these fields have last year's stalks left behind. They anchor the soil down--in this flat, open land, when the winds come the soil goes away with it. The Dust Bowl was the result of not knowing some of these agricultural practices --the topsoil was literally gone with the wind. Outside of LaMesa on the west side we came across a house totally walled in by trees but having a white picket fence facing the road! I would hate to live walled in like that--but the trees are windbreaks and protect the house. In the middle of nowhere Youkum County has government and educational buildings that would put some cities to shame--oil money! I said to Bill, there is nothing to do here but work, sleep, drink and go to Church on Sunday. I'd go mad. Neighbors are few and far between--who wants to waste grazing land, oil well land or agricultural farmland to houses or towns? By the time we reached the Tatum and Roswell mileage sign we'd already been on the road over 200 miles! What a long day and two more hours to go! Tatum is a joy, though. Every street has a delightful iron sign with its name and some scene that depicts the area. I've always wanted to stop at the shop but we never come through when he is open. This time I see a second metal worker has opened a place but the signs on the streets and many of the ranch gates and business signs were all done by the fellow who has been here for years. Poor Boy is the newcomer and he is much flashier with his flags etc than Westcraft who is the original guy. It is Westcraft I hope to visit one day. Soon we moved out of the basin and back into the flatlands and the dry lake beds that are common in this Eastern section of New Mexico. At long last we entered to long valley that leads into the town of Roswell. Their courthouse with the green dome is a favorite building of mine. It is the nicest thing about Roswell although there is also a nice little wildlife refuge we've visited in the past. Since I had called ahead and reserved our motel room we went directly next door to Tia Juana's Cantina for dinner. We were both exhausted, having driven 395 miles and been in the car for 7 and a half hours! When we crossed the Texas - New Mexico border we entered mountain time and gained an hour but at the end of the drive it did not matter a bit. We usually get something to eat and one drink but it was relaxing just to sit and talk so we got something to eat--Bill got a Mesquite grilled hamburger with green chile and I had a chimichanga with pinto beans, guacamole and green chile sauce. After eating we remained for two more beers and chatted about length of days and the problems of having to deal with Texas to get anywhere to the West. Sometimes I wish I could just pull it and the Great Lakes out of the way when traveling. Checked in at the motel, only to find that the girl rented all the king rooms on the ground floor out, not realizing there was our reservation. To make up for it, she gave us a king suite for the same price. On the second floor but one of the best suites we've ever had. Even though it was only 730 it felt like midnight. Bill fell right to sleep. I made it to 930 ( 1030 for us) before falling asleep over the crossword puzzle. That did it-out went the lights and out I went! And so, Texas dust is in our rearview mirror and New Mexico lies before us. To be continued. KandB

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