If you take the fast route from San Antonio to head west to the next state, it’s still more than 550 miles to get to the state line. Texas is enormous, more than 800 miles across it the long way. And it includes all kinds of landscapes, each lovely in its own way. It’s a rainy day as I ride northwest out of S.A. toward Hill Country. I’d been hoping to see more of it, towns like Boerne and Fredericksburg, to enjoy the antique shops, cafes, old sandstone/limestone buildings but the rain keeps me from playing tourist and instead I keep moving west. The further I go, the flatter the land gets. There are more cacti popping up by the mile. No offense to Ozona, Texas – not so much by choice as by necessity, I stop there for the night and decide to take a stroll around this small west Texas town.
All the mixed era buildings are decorated for Christmas. There is a square in the center of town, like in most small Texas towns, with a courthouse keeping watch over the square. This one serves Crockett County, named for Davy Crockett who was killed at the Battle of the Alamo.
A Judy Black sculpture of a pioneer family rests in the shadow of the courthouse.
On the way north out of town I pass a small ghost town at Stiles, Texas and wish I had time to stop. The roads are filled with pickups and petroleum trucks and the prairie looks like a forest of oil wells. Each one doing a slow motion hammering of its own.
I can smell gas every few miles, like the kind that would make you panic and evacuate from your home if you walked in on it. For a moment I wonder what would happen if lightening struck here or there were a grass fire. I would think the whole country would burst into a ball of fire. The closer I get to Midland and Odessa the worse it gets. I hate to say it, but the place just feels toxic, even though this place must generate money faster than anyone can imagine.
I get to spend a couple of evenings there with two cousins and family. It’s a wonderful reward for covering so many miles. My cousin, Abbi, tells me about a local veterinary clinic that runs a program for all sorts of animals that have been surrendered. She takes me by for a peek. Peeps and Creeps has a Noah’s Ark-like menagerie of animals, and all seem very happy here. It’s a bright spot in this hazy oil field covered plain. I just wish those poor animals had better air to breathe.