In a break from the normal ramblings of this injured runner, I hand over to the Dynamo Dad (yeah, he told me to call him that) who tells just one of a number of tales about a recent visit to the modern day wild west otherwise known as Texas – head here and you’ll be grateful you worked on those map skills at the hands of Never Stop London:
As we looked out our plane window, a parched checkerboard of evenly spaced “nodding donkeys” were pumping oil and gas from the desert ….. Jesus, I thought, what a dump, she who must be obeyed will kill me.
This was the twin towns of Midlands and Odessa. Oil was king here and is now usurped by gas.
It literally and figuratively permeates everywhere – derricks, pipes, storage tanks, service industries, advertising boards, as well as from the Permian Basin. Indeed the residents probably start their barbeques by simply knocking a pipe into the ground and then toss their side salads in black gold.
Black gold and its Johnny-come-lately gas are the lifeblood of these twin towns with the blue collar workers residing in Odessa. They have the dilapidated Greyhound bus station, and their bosses in Midland, well, they have the airport.
Budding young oil executives like George Bush senior bought his first home in Midland. His cerebrally-taxed son, George W, then turned this modest 1950 example of surburbia into a heritage site. You can even visit the school he attended age five – as a Canadian said to me:
“ I’m a guest here and could but won’t comment about what you deem as heritage.”
So a hire car was the only choice of pragmatic transport, with Midland 300 miles away the nearest airport.
And it is so remote that the US Border Guard man checkpoints on the only two highways – 181 and 385 – accessing the park, 70 miles from its entrances. Now just think about that – it’s like having the Calais border crossing in the middle of Bedfordshire. Asked why, one cheerful gun touting border guard replied:
“ Well we got the scout planes and have the 4×4’s, but by the time the wetbacks and drug smugglers have been out there in the desert for more than 2 days without water, they are pleased to be rounded up, if not we just round up their bones and belongings.”
The Spaniards called it The Desolation.
This was true West Texas where you travel for miles without seeing another car to then stop at interstate cross roads and go through a pleasant ritual of “after you no after you” with the only pick up truck you met in 30 miles.
This is where people adopt/sponsor a 50 mile stretch of highway rather than the postage stamp mini roundabout to then pay verge mowers to cut their isolated, but public picnic spot of an oasis. They even have a blower to blow the grass cuttings into desert sands.
And this is where you go back to reading a map as there is no reliable GPS signal. In fact, you totally step back in time.