Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Texas - it's not as big as Ontario!

We are driving straight across Texas, from Texarkana to Abilene first (where we spend a night at the Flying J truck stop) and then on to Monahans Sandhills State Park east of Pecos where we only expect to spend a couple of hours, but instead camp for two nights.  It's really beautiful here.  First, the drive from Abilene to the State Park is very windy, so much so that there are little tumbleweeds tumbling across I-20, and hundreds of windmills in the flat, desolate plains surrounding the interstate.  There are also cotton fields, about half of which have been harvested, and the other half are bursting with their white balls of fluff, ready to be picked.  And then there are the oil drilling rigs - hundreds and hundreds of them.  Somewhere along the way not far west of Abilene, these replace the windmills.  In Midland, a sign boasts that this city is the Hometown of George and Laura Bush.  We also drove through Hope, Arkansas which is the birthplace of Bill Clinton a few days ago.  Looks like we're in President Alley!

We love to chat with the "locals" to learn more about the places we visit and the people.  At breakfast in Abilene, we chat with our server, a 19-year-old young man named Zach who has lived in Texas all his life, and has left the state only once to go to Colorado for a high school band trip.  I guess Brad and I are fairly adventurous travellers:  I have been in 31 of the 50 United States; Brad has been in 28 (I only exceed him because of a couple of business trips).  We find that many Americans rarely leave their home state unless they move to take another job.  We have also travelled across Canada east and west, so are we unusual?  Send your thoughts and comments on that.

Monahans Sandhills State Park is a pretty interesting place.  There are "living" dunes and others that are "stable" (they don't call them dead dunes).  Living dunes are still forming with moving sand, like the Sahara.  Obviously, these dunes aren't that big.  The non-living dunes have scrub growing on them and are stable - they no longer move with swirling sand.  It is hot, sunny and windy here.  The ranger says the wind only stops when it gets to about 100 degrees!  We rent a plastic disc for dune surfing, but this proves to be less fun than you'd think because we can't get any speed going down the dunes as the sand is too soft and we sink too far down.  It's more work than fun since you have to walk back up - there's no tow rope like on a ski hill.  The sand is cold only a few inches below the surface, and moist. 
Brad sandsurfing at Monahans Sandhills State Park

Back at the trailer, small house finches are driving the cat nuts!  They are lined up to get at any drop of water coming from our hookup.  They are even landing on our open windows, which open from the bottom angled out, so Grady is running from window to window trying to sneak up on the birds.  He doesn't chatter at them like other cats do; he just watches them and only once or twice lunged at one.  During our second night in this park, we are the only campers.  There are only about 30 sites here, but it's an eerie feeling to be so alone.  Of course, there is a park ranger, so we are safe.
Grady birdwatching

On the morning that we leave Sandhills SP, Brad is exploring around in a small wooded area at the top of a dune and finds a small plastic container.  In it is a note that it is a "letterbox" started on March 13, 2010, and there are five other entries from others who have found it since.  Each person has their own stamp, but the note says that if you find the letterbox by accident, you can go on their website to check it out.  I think I will -  I make an entry even though we don't have a stamp (they can always rip out the page if we've made a faux pas) with our name, city and date found.  I guess this is a similar endeavour to geocaching.

Grady is much more comfortable in the truck now.  He is learning to "live" in it - he sleeps, eats and even uses the litter box while we are moving.  He no longer hides out in the "cat cave" under the back seat all the time.  He'll sit or lay on the console in between Brad and me, or sit on top of his carrier on the back seat and look out the window, or even sit on top of the back of the back seats.  He's become much more bold.  And when we get to Monahans Sandhills State Park, I get brave and put his leash on and let him walk in the big sand dunes where we are camped - and he loves it!  There is no one else around and nowhere for him to hide, otherwise I would never let him do this as he's not leash trained.  But he is very good and doesn't pull or try to get away.

Grady out on the dunes
We also finally buy an iPod Nano at Walmart, so we can download our music from my laptop and have more than just our CDs to listen to in the truck.  We have finally caught up with the new millennium!  In about an hour I get everything figured out with our 2008 and 2009 top 250 songs downloaded.  It's a very cool little device.  How did we live without all of these gadgets before?

1 comment: