What a day, what a trip, what a life! Before we said goodbye to Sonora, Texas we drove into the historic downtown to see what was what. According to my iPhone app, Sonora is not only the county seat of Sutton County, it is also one of the leading speed trap cities in West Texas, averaging more than 48,000 citations per year (over 10 per year per capita based on its 2000 census of 2,924)!
My plan for today was to drive west to Fort Stockton, hopefully arriving in time for lunch and a walk around. It wasn’t so long before my eye was caught by a sign for Fort Livingston Historic Site at the next exit, my foot eased up on the gas, and we were headed off in another direction.
The historic site was 11 miles off I-10, but I was committed. We were going. After all, there we were in the middle West Texas, and we could probably take a nice loop back to I-10. About six miles in, we passed a sign saying HILL, and I thought “Yeah, right!” Then the road began to curve and dip and sure enough there was a hill – it went DOWN instead of UP, and it went down around the far edge of a deep canyon. I stopped at the picnic area and took a picture that can’t begin to match the gasp I gave out when I saw it…
Well, as most dogs do, Max loves to roll in grass. And he decided to do the same here at this West Texas picnic site, where the grass was as brown and dry as you can imagine. When I was ready to get him back in the car, I rubbed his back and discovered he had picked up these prickly sand spurs! His entire body was covered; they were in the silky hair on his ears, under his chin, along his legs – everywhere!
Fortunately, they were the same kind we had encountered in Austin – soft, not sharp. They are about 1/4 inch in diameter, and feel like little mini pompoms. Because his fur is curly, they were buried deep, and I spent over a half hour prying them loose, alternately cursing the mess and apologizing to Max for not being aware of them before I let him wander without his leash. I’m still picking them out of his fur!
The historic site at Fort Livingston was interesting enough; an interpretive center and gift shop starts the visitor on the way, then with map of the site in hand you sally forth to walk amongst the remnants of buildings.
There were signs everywhere saying not to go off the path, and I assumed it had to do with staying off the ruins. Max, being a dog, did NOT keep to the path, but wandered onto the grass following his nose. When he began to limp, I checked his foot to see what was wrong.
This time, it was the spiny little sand spurs like you can encounter in the dunes at the beach. He had them stuck in all four feet. I spent about 10 minutes pulling them carefully out, cursing the harsh, spiny country we were in, and apologizing once again to Max.
When we got back to the car, I decided to put Vanessa to the test, and asked her for the route back to I-10. She lived up to the task, taking us about 3 miles further on past the Fort, and onto River Road, County Route 308. We drove over one cattle guard, then a second about 100 feet on, and the road turned to dirt. We were inside the fence, but where were the cattle??
For the next four miles, this is what we drove on, until we crossed another two cattle guards and took the on-ramp to I-10 West:
When we were about 50 miles out from Fort Stockton I noticed windmills lining a mesa off to my right. As we drove, they just kept on going. Ridge after ridge, hundreds of windmills, for almost 25 miles – all turning, all generating electricity!
By the time we reached Fort Stockton, it was about 1:30 PM, and the air was heavy with smoke from a fire to the north. I decided I didn’t want to stop and walk around in it, so we kept on going, this time heading north for Pecos, TX and Carlsbad, NM. I thought Pecos might be an interesting stop, but it turned out to be a disappointment. I can chalk some of it up to it being Sunday, and nobody about, but the downtown was filled with empty storefronts. There was no place to eat, and no reason to stop, so on we went.
Ever northward, we passed fields with small oil derricks pumping black gold out of the ground. They reminded me of giant praying mantises, tipping their heads down as if to drink and back up again. We saw more oil derricks than cattle the whole drive through West Texas – and that’s not to say that we saw that many derricks. I don’t know if the cattle aren’t there, or if they’re just out in the brush somewhere away from the road.
I’d like to say before we knew it we were crossing the line into New Mexico, but the reality is today’s drive was a long one. I had a headache for most of the day, and I really wanted to get somewhere and settle in for the night. I do have to say that the line sneaked up on me when I wasn’t expecting it! One minute we were speeding along at 70, then there was a sign saying NOW ENTERING MOUNTAIN TIME, and there was the state line!
We made it to the Land of Enchantment!