Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Where the deer and the antelope play

Fort Stockton, TX – The vastness of the Texas range was brought home today as we traveled from San Antonio to this small town.  It’s about halfway between San Antonio and El Paso at the extreme west side of the state, so it suited us well.  The RV park where we’re staying is described as an oasis, and after the desert-like terrain we crossed, it seems an apt term.

“It isn’t always this windy,” a sign in the park office says.  “Sometimes it blows harder!” The RV is gently rocking now with the wind, and that’s about as hard as we’d like.  We actually opened the door and windows after we got here, delighted to have a bit of warm weather for a change.  It looks like, for the first time in many nights, we won’t have to detach our water hose.

We were glad to get through San Antonio in one piece.  There was such a tangle of thruways going in all directions!  Once past the city, the countryside became very hilly, and we saw condos and expensive homes set up high where residents could take advantage of the view.  This region is called Hill Country, and there are some interesting caverns here that tour buses often visit from the city.

For most of today’s trip, we were in sporting country, where snowbirds and others come to enjoy the wide open spaces and pleasant climate (most of the time), and hunt for white-tail deer, wild turkeys and, when everything else eludes them, squirrels. I only caught a glimpse of two deer all day, if you don’t count the ones that lay motionless beside the highway.

Further west, we encountered the Chihuahuan Desert, a wide expanse of flat land, studded with mesquite trees and scrub plants, as well as prickly pear cactus and, in one small section, round balls of tumbleweed. Spiky agave plants sent up their single tall flower stem to quiver in the wind, which by now was blowing quite steadily.

Large flat mesas came into view, and on top of many of them stood armies of wind turbines, swinging their huge pointed arms round and round.  We also saw quite a few pumpjacks, nodding their large, horse-like heads up and down endlessly.

We passed the turnoff for a town called Iraan, and I looked it up in our Texas guidebook.  The name is a combination of Ira and Ann, owners of the town site.  It has two claims to fame; one is the Discovery Well A No.1, a gusher that, 50 years ago, sent a plume of black gold so high it sprayed a tent city four miles away.  It’s still one of the largest producing oil wells in North America.

The second claim to fame is that Alley-Oop, the comic-strip caveman, was created by V.T. Hamlin when he lived in Iraan.  A theme park, on Alley Oop Lane, commemorates this historic event.

We had supper at the Roadrunner Café, here at the RV park, where they serve BBQ pork ribs and chicken fried steak to hungry travelers.  There were quite a few who were drawn in by the aroma.

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