In Case You've Wondered

My blog is where my wandering thoughts are interspersed with stuff I made up. So, if while reading you find yourself confused about the context, don't feel alone. I get confused, too.

If you're here for the stories, I started another blog:

One other thing: sometimes I write words you refuse to use in front of children, or polite company, unless you have a flat tire, or hit your thumb with a hammer.

I don't use them to offend; I use them to embellish.

Thursday, June 1, 2023

It Was a Good Trip Part 1

 My wife, and I, kicked around two locations for a trip, and the Lincoln Mountain National Forest won. The Big Bend area was the other, but the border mess, and a long range forecast of rain, made us decide on New Mexico.

Years ago, during my wife's first marriage, she went with her husband to return to the state where he was born. From what I can surmise of the trip, there was a lot of ground to cover, and not much time to stop. The trip was hectic, and she didn't get to spend some time in the mountains of the Lincoln National Forest. She spoke about the beauty. Looking at photos of the area convinced me it was the choice to make.

The trip to our destination of Ruidosa N.M. is attainable in a day, but the thought of driving for 12 to 14 hours wasn't a pleasant thought. Snyder Texas would take between 8 and 10 hours, and the five to six hour on the next day would allow time to wander as we traveled. 

We started around 7:00 am, and took a route that allowed back roads. We could have taken interstates for most of the trip, and probably saved some time, but that's not how we travel. The smaller highways, less traffic, more scenery and history are what we like. You really can't understand Texas unless you stay away from the larger cities, and you are willing to stop now and then. 

Some of the route was familiar, until we turned on SH 7 in Centerville. We stopped for coffee, and a pit stop. I'd been this way years ago, and really didn't remember much of the trip. It was a new adventure for both of us, and we both anticipated the new discoveries. 

The first thing to catch our eyes was near a small town named Kosse. A bridge over a large road was unfamiliar, since they usually are over railroads. This one was different, and the appearance of a large dump truck gave it away. It was a mining road, and off in the distance was the large drag line scooping away large sections of earth. Looking to the left, we could see the cleared areas, and the areas being reworked. Eventually, the mine will run out of coal, and the large drag line will be left in place, or scrapped. Now, it was feeding a power plant somewhere close. I knew it existed due to the transmission line crossing the highway. A little research shows it's south near another small town named Franklin. 

Seeing the mine brought back a conversation I had with two workers a few years ago in Hearne, Texas, which is not far from Franklin. They were mechanics for a large machinery company and working on a local drag line in a mine. They said there were a few years left for the mine, and when it was done, the machine they were working on would probably remain. It took a long time to assemble, and economics dictated the costs to move it would probably never be contemplated. At the time, I thought of the economic impact this would have on the local communities. Seeing the large area that depended on the endeavor made me think about it again. There's not much of anything to support that many people. When the mine is closed, there is no doubt in my mind many will have to move to survive. 

As we continued, outside the small town of Moody we encountered something that caught our eyes. On the edge of the highway, in between, and on the edge of a county road, was a cemetery. There was no fence, most of it was grown over, and a few newer graves signified it was still in use. Surrounding the entire area was acres of corn, and the planting was to the edge of an imaginary demarcation. It said a lot about the area's past, and many rural areas, where there is no perpetual care cemeteries, headstones can be as simple as a large rock, and the care shows any family left has passed, or moved on. Eventually, many graves will be lost to time and nature. Faint memories would have long gone, and even if someone wants to find the resting place of a relative, time has removed all vestiges of their existence. 

The further west we traveled, the more hostile the terrain became. The lush green of East Texas was replaced by more scrubby vegetation, the oaks were small, and much of the farms were irrigated by wells. The rolling hills offered more vistas, and the pioneers crossed my mind. What did they see? What did they think? And how many were buried in the prairie in unmarked graves? It had to be a hard existence, and the lack of water guaranteed only the most hardy could survive. 

We stopped in a town named Hamilton for something to eat. We'd eaten breakfast hours before, and it was past the noon hour. My wife found a local hamburger restaurant with good reviews, so we pulled in for something to go.  

Hamilton, like many of the smaller towns that were on our path, is a county seat. We saw many, and most were small towns. The surrounding areas are mostly farms or ranches, and there is usually a railroad passing through. Many still have rail sidings for the crops, and the towns are probably the only place for locals to shop.  

The reviews were right about Woody's. Compared to the fast food chains, the prices were similar, and the homemade burgers brought back memories when there weren't many fast food chains. Hamburgers were handmade patties, the vegetables were fresh, the bun was browned on the flattop, and fries were hand cut that morning. I was reminded how I missed the way burgers used to be, and was glad of our choice. We ate as we drove, and the scenery was starting to drastically change. 

The closer we came to Abilene, the more mesquite was to be seen, and prickly pear was along the fence rows. Some mesas were visible on the horizon, many covered with windmills, and it was obvious cattle had sparse grazing. Where in Central Texas the cattle were butterball fat, the cattle there would have to go to a feed lot before processing. 

We didn't see much of Abilene. A farm to market road bypassed much of the city, and when we reached Interstate 20, we headed west. A fairly short time on the interstate brought us to a small town named Roscoe. We turned north and another short trip led us to Snyder. 

Snyder is surrounded by hundreds of windmills and thousands of acres of fields. Some held the vestiges of the winter wheat harvest, some were ready to be harvested, and the majority of the acreage was fresh plowed. A question to the hotel clerk where we stayed brought the answer to what was about to be planted: cotton. Research shows it's a major crop, and judging by the number of workers that arrived at the hotel later, it takes a lot of transient workers to accomplish the task of planting. When you add the workers for windfarms, and the oilfield, hotel rooms without reservations are slim to find in Snyder at this time of year. I was glad I made reservations a few days before. The clerk told me all rooms were booked, and no rooms were available. 

We didn't see much of Snyder, and with what turned out to be a 10 hour drive, a fast food meal was all we wanted. Rest was mandated, so we settled in early for an early start the next morning. At that time, I would be further west than I've ever been, and I was curious about what we would see. 


  1. I’m curious too! Wonderful imagery 🤩

  2. Looks and sounds like a beautiful area. And sounds like you're making great travel time!

    1. We took the trip two weeks ago. After we returned, I was a little tired, and had to contemplate the trip.

  3. That is a looooong car trip. When we lived in Houston we made it a time or two, though to go to ABQ.

    1. Long car trips don't bother me, except when they have to be accomplished in one day...regardless of how long that can be.

      We'll probably return to see the northern part of New Mexico, and maybe venture up into the Four Corners area,

    2. If you have time check out the Billy the Kid museums in Ft. Sumner. And his supposed gravesite.

  4. Two-lane roads are the best.