Monday, February 1, 2016

Still in Texas

Texas Skies

It was Tuesday, December 1st.  Today’s drive on 190 was a straighter shot west. The strip of blue sky kept getting a little more prevalent, but the gray overcast strip still hung overhead.

Gray and overcast skies giving way to more blue sky.
Today’s scenery was a variety of things, but much of what I remember was the ranching section of Texas.   Occasionally we would see a turnoff with a sign overhead announcing the name of a ranch with their brand on the bar across the top.  Sometimes we saw only a ranch road trailing through the landscape as far as we could see.  Other times in the lay of the land we could see a beautiful ranch house.  I even caught a glimpse of four horseback riders in the distance, probably riding their range, perhaps checking fences, or doing whatever ranch riders do.

Besides seeing ranches, we also saw cattle, but they were not everywhere, just now and then.  The distance between ranches led me to believe that cattle were grazing in meadows away from the highway. As we continued on, we saw an area with goats, sheep, and also deer.

Pictures Left in my Mind

While driving, it was impossible to take photos.  A couple of photo opportunities, however, were delightful and left only a picture in my mind.  Literally, out of the blue to my right as we drove by, there was a very small one to two acre tract of land with beautiful luscious green grass that caught my eye.  It got my attention because this time of year, it was uncommon to see this color of green, and in contrast, there were white sheep grazing. The picturesque setting of white sheep against the green grass looked like a painting hanging in the landscape.  That was one of those wow moments that even if I had not been driving, would have been a challenge to get on film because it came and went so quickly.

The drive across Texas would not be complete without traveling through deer country.  We drove for miles and never saw a deer.  Then we would see one on either side of the road, or even on the other side of a fence.  We were constantly on the lookout and even braked for one that crossed the road in front of John.  The second wow sighting was that of a deer literally leaping in mid air over a fence, thankfully, going away from the road. She was so graceful. What an incredible sight to see!  Her four legs were tucked up close to her body as she sailed over the fence in mid air.  But, again, capturing that on film, even with camera in hand and not driving would have been only by chance.

Friends had told us there was a very good barbecue place in Brady, Texas, one of the Texas towns we passed by.  It was too early in the day for barbecue, so we kept going.  One thing I noticed about 190 was that it was not uncommon for the directional road signs to appear at the last minute, as in at the intersection, with no forewarning.  At one intersection, we were in the right thru lane when we saw the sign at the intersection telling us the road turned left.  Fortunately, there were only two other vehicles, so after they moved, we could make a left turn.

As the day wore on, we noticed the overcast portion of sky was making room for even more blue sky. Sometimes we were driving through areas where there were short walls of rock on both sides of the road.

Late in the day, overcast skies turned to blue sky, and short walls of rock lined both sides of the road.
We were getting close to Iraan, our stop for the night, when a peculiar smell in the air kept getting stronger -- black gold – Texas tea – Oil wells!

Iraan had three city parks with RV hookups, all run by the city.  The city offices were closed, so we inquired at a gas station and were told to drive down this one street and we would see ‘it”.  We jogged over a couple of streets and did see it, but it looked like every space was taken.  One fellow came out of his rig just as I drove around the curve, so I rolled my window down to inquire.  My guess is that some of the people employed in the oil fields were camped in these city RV parks.

He told us there would probably be spaces at the other two parks;  We stayed at Rocky Point for $15 for the night with an electric hookup.  The park was very barren, but it suited our needs for the night. After we got plugged in to electric, we walked over and put our money for the camping fee in an envelope and dropped it into their drop box.  Except for hearing one dog barking at different times (not in the park, but across the street), the rest of the night was very quiet for sleeping.

The Loud Boom 

The next morning, December 2nd, we awoke to a bright blue sky with not a cloud in site.  We filled up with gas in Iraan and headed toward Van Horn.  After forty-five minutes of driving on 190, we got on I-10.  We went less than five miles when John suddenly slowed up, heading for the shoulder of the road, to pull off of the highway.  I saw a puff of smoke and pulled off behind him, and asked him what was up.  He heard a loud boom and had no idea where it came from.

The van drove okay, so we had no idea what we were looking for.  When he got to the back of the van, he saw pieces of shattered glass and, at first, thought that something happened to the solar panels on the trailer, but thankfully they were okay.  The rear left door of the van had no glass in the opening.  The glass had shattered everywhere.  We found glass on the pavement, in the van, on the inside of the privacy curtain, and even in the inside pocket of the door panel.  There was no one on the interstate but us.  It was a beautiful, sunny day.  We have no idea what caused this window to shatter.  At that point, there was not much we could do, so we continued to our night stop in Van Horn.

Angel’s Thorn 

Mountain View RV Park was a nice campground. It had easy on and off access from the highway.  We paid $35 for the night. In addition to campsites, it had private shower rooms and also two log cabin tiny house barns to rent. They were still working on getting facilities to a couple sections.  We went for a walk around the park.  All of a sudden, Angel began to limp.  John checked, pulled a thorn from his one paw pad, and then he was back to his normal running and jumping, as if nothing had happened.

Earlier that day at a rest stop, he had picked up several sand burrs in his front paws.  John quickly took care of pulling them out, and almost got them stuck in his fingers.  Everything turned out okay for both Angel and John.

The White Foam Board

Jim and his wife, fellow campers, were parked next to us.  They are hosts at a campground in Seward, Alaska, during part of the year.  Many thanks to them for offering us a piece of white foam board to fill the opening where the window broke.  With the use of our packaging tape and utility knife, John cut and reshaped it to fit the window opening.

The next morning, we put another hundred miles behind us by the time we reached El Paso.  There is no good way to go around that city, so we drove straight through it.  With the time change somewhere between Van Horn and El Paso, we had already set our clocks back.  It took us from 1:00 to 1:30 to drive through the city.  We then crossed the New Mexico State line, heading northwest in the Land of Enchantment.

If you want to follow our adventures and be notified of new posts, you can subscribe by email or one of three other methods.  New Mexico, Land of Enchantment, and Points West coming up next! Your comments are welcome.

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