Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Long Lonesome Highway

This week my husband and I made an impromptu trip to Lubbock to visit his mother and sister. To be honest, I wasn't looking forward to the trip and viewed it as a duty that had to be performed. So in the spirit of "let's make the best of things," we loaded up the dogs and set out on a beautiful, sunny Monday. 

Now Lucy is a traveling dog. She loves the car and wants to come along every time I walk out the door. Not so with Ruffles. She is a home dog and experiences varying stages of anxiety every time she has to leave. We brought along a picnic lunch so we could stop at a park somewhere along the way, eat our lunch and let the dogs have a run. The City park at Mason provided just the spot we needed. 

As you can see, Lucy got a little tangled up in her leash, a problem that plagued us the whole trip, but she had a great time.  
Once you get past San Angelo, the terrain starts to flatten out a little and you begin to see the progression of the giant wind generators atop the plateaus. These things fascinate me. I didn't have a good perspective for how huge they are until one day I passed a caravan of eighteen wheel trucks and trailers transporting the pieces to assemble one of them. Each of the three arms is longer than an over-sized trailer; some as long as 130 feet. 


Enormous farms of these turbines cover the horizon as far as you can see. They have completely changed the landscape of West Texas and the Panhandle, but not necessarily in a bad way.   When I see them I think of a vast alien army, slowly but steadily marching across the land. They are absolutely quiet and, in my mind, rather beautiful.

This is the land of Lonesome Dove. The Comanche people roamed here for centuries and as my mind wanders, I can see Augustus, Woodrow and their band of cowboys, avoiding Indian attacks, moving their herd across this land, headed to Montana. 

Just north of Big Spring, we find ourselves riding atop the caprock -- the giant slab of limestone that defines the geology of the Panhandle region. This is the land of The Last Picture Show, and Tender Mercies. Flat land, big sky, whistling wind and dust as far as you can see. 

Cotton farming rules this region. At this time of year the farmers are plowing under the dead stalks of last year's crop, getting the ground ready for spring planting. We could see dust plumes in the air, signaling a tractor working miles away. 

At one point we came across a flock of sandhill cranes, searching for food in the freshly-plowed fields. I discovered that a small number of these cranes use this area as their winter territory, migrating down from Wisconsin and Canada each year. 

They were shy birds and flew away when I tried to move in for a closer photo. This makes me really want a new camera with a better zoom. 

In LaMesa, I took this shot of an old factory that had been turned into a retail shop. At some point it must have been used as an auto salvage yard, but currently is it cleaned up. The printing on the side of the car says "Old Cars."

After a little over six hours we arrived in Lubbock and after we checked into our hotel, I began to mull over the sights I'd seen that day. As always, I marvel about the diversity of Texas and how quickly things change as you move through the geological regions of this state. I also thought about the little towns we passed through -- towns where the land is completely flat, all the roads run east to west and as you turn your head from side to side, you can see the whole town. Towns where signs advertising "Gin" are not talking about liquor. Towns that are completely unappealing to me. But then I think of something I recently read that was written by Bum Phillips. He said, "Every little part of Texas feels special. Every person who ever flew the Lone Star thinks of Bandera or Victoria or Manor or wherever they call 'home' as the best little part of the best state."  So I will concede; those who live here and choose to stay here when given other choices find comfort and beauty here. And if I breathe deeply and squint my eyes, I think I could see it too. But it would have to grow on me. 

After a two day visit we headed home. As we neared the hill country I became more and more relaxed. The familiar scenery made me smile. 

But no one was as happy as Ruffles, once again, safe at home.


  1. Glad that you and Scott had a great trip and all those great imaginations!.....(sound just like your mother)......she would have looked at the scenery with those captions too!!!

  2. Plus, she would have read every sign we passed out loud. That used to drive me crazy!

  3. Thanks for the lovely guided tour. I enjoyed it immensely.

  4. I graduated from Texas Tech, and therefore made this drive many times over the five (yes, five) years I went to school in Lubbock. I loved driving through the small towns and wondering what life was like there. No wind turbines back then but thanks for the reminder of the road!