Thursday, January 12, 2012

January 2012-a bit of traveling around northwest Texas

 Hi y'all,
January began with lots of sunshine and warm weather in the San Antonio area!  This is so very different than what we have known for all the years in the Northwest and continues to amaze us.  We got back to taking mile walks down the road by the RV park.  We now have two dog friends joining us daily as we go along.  They eagerly bounce along with us for about 3/4 of the walk.
We have gotten back to walking in the Medina River Natural and Greenbelt area.  We have even seen some of the wild hogs that live in the area that we walk. They are a bit of a concern because they are between 200-500 lbs each.  They usually seem to be more scared of us for which we are grateful.
http://www.sanaturalareas.org/mr/mrindex.html

Second week of January we decided to take a road trip to San Angelo, Odessa and Midland Texas.  So, we left the Roulotte in Somerset and set off in the pouring rain in the Passat.  By the time we got to San Angelo it had gotten much colder and early evening started to snow.  It was beautiful to watch from our hotel room and I had to go out to walk around a bit in the snow fall, which was a very dry snow. It continued to snow that night and there was about 1.5 inches by morning.  The sun came up and immediately it all started to melt, causing lots of flooding at corners and street intersections.  Quite the little mess!
San Angelo claims to be the mohair capital of the world....downtown corners have variously decorated sheep statues.  See picture below for example.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Angelo,_Texas







Spent the morning visiting Fort Concho, the most well preserved in a series of forts in this area.  Glad I brought my Croc boots with me, kept my feet dry as we walked around the fort sloshing thru either snow or mud.  
http://www.fortconcho.com/
http://www.militaryghosts.com/concho.html

The next day, we took to the highway to go to Midland, Tx and Odessa, TX, about 135 miles northwest of San Angelo, near New Mexico.  What's in Midland- banks for one thing.  Gotta put all your oil money somewhere.  You can see them as you approach town, since they stand tall and proud in an area that is very flat all around. Midland even has a Wall Street located in the heart of downtown.   Midland is the "culture" city in the oil rich area, even has its own symphony, which is located in Midland.  They are very proud of being the Bush home when Shrub was growing up.  We did a tour of the house, which is very small, given by a volunteer who was a neighbor.  The Bush daughters used to babysit for this woman.

Bush family home in Midland, Tx

While in Midland, we visited the Petroleum Museum. I now know as much as I ever want to know about the history of finding oil in Texas and how it is done.  It was actually quite interesting to see some of the techniques used to drill and actual drills used over the years.
"grasshopper" oil pumps in front of Museum

Fred testing race car in Chaparral display of museum





The scent of oil is often in the air, its an odd smell varying from sour  to a sulphur  smell, hard to describe.  This is crude oil, not what you smell at the gas station.  I started calling it the scent of money, which I have now heard Texans say also.  Rigs and small "grasshoppers" are every where in this area and even where we are in Somerset/Lytle.

A side note, due to the wet weather in this area and even by us further south, the trucks are covered in deep layers of mud.  This gets dropped on the roads/highways, so in working oil areas there are clumps of mud  the size of footballs.  The roads are either brown mush being sprayed everywhere or when drier great dust clouds coating everything.  Guys are driving pickups covered in mud, just able to see out the windshield and every other part of the pickup covered in dense mud.
In addition, folks coming out of their long, sometimes very long, dirt driveways on their ranches are also depositing lots of mud on the roads.  We have learned that yes Texas is BIG, but most of it is rural.
Those truck commercials you see on TV, with the truck in mud and going up and down holes with mud spraying everywhere- that's here all around us.  I have never seen anything like this before....us city folks don't know nuthin' bout mud everywhere.  The Passat is constantly muddy, front and back.  Windshield, back window and side mirrors are cleaned just about each time we get gas.  Today, in Odessa, turns out Fred cleaned windshield at gas station with just plain gritty mud water.  Guess it is impossible to keep water clean!

the color of mud



http://www.midlandtexas.gov/midland/bush/bush.html
 http://www.bushchildhoodhome.com/
http://petroleummuseum.org/
 http://little-mountain.com/oilwell/


Odessa, which is just 20 miles away, is where the oil work takes place.  This had no tall buildings, no big fancy banks, no symphony, but it does share its name with Midland, Odessa Midland Symphony.   Instead this is the working town, where the industry is about getting the oil, making the equipment to get to the oil and anything that is needed related to this industry.  The size of the equipment is incredible, enormous.



 Last day in the area, so we just took a 200 round trip drive up to Abilene, Tx.  Was a train and highway crossroads.  Has a lot of red brick buildings and homes from the turn of the century.  Lots of large new homes being built in this area, not sure why.  Seems to be doing well in general.  Windy and cold though, 33-35 degrees, so we did not do much walking around.
http://www.abilenetx.com/About/



Well that just about wraps it up for our time in this area.  Tomorrow we head back to the Roulotte and mid 70 degree temperatures.

Michelle and Fred
Traveling the country so you don't have to!