Friday, March 20, 2015

To infinity and beyond!

 This past weekend, I drove up to Lubbock, Texas.  I’ve never been to Lubbock or Abilene for that matter.  I was driving my Jeep up there for the Texas Geocaching Challenge where geocachers from, well, all over the world, come to compete against each other to see who has the best team.  New Mexico and Colorado competed, as did one fellow from Great Britain.

Driving a lifted Jeep on 35 inch tires and cruising at 75 mph is an exhilarating experience.  I left Baytown at 3:30AM for the 600 mile trip and it was raining and thundering something fierce.  My tiny Shi-Tzu was shaking and I put her thunder jacket on her tiny body before I left and let her up into the bed with my sleeping bride.  My little Papillon/Pomeranian mixed doggie doesn’t seem to mind the booms, but likes it under the covers just fine.

It was raining Gulf Coast Texas style as I drove through sleeping Houston.  I wanted to “git gone” up 290 before the traffic wars started and with the downpour, I was glad to have the woman’s voice on my Garmin Nuvi nudge me up the correct paths.  It’s not that I don’t want to hear a man’s voice on the electronic destination device; it’s simply that it is clearer with the higher tone of a female voice.  Jeeps have come a long way since 1941, but quiet, they ain’t.  Well, it was quieter inside the cab before the off-road modifications, lets just say.

It was still pouring when I reached Cypress and in the opposing lane I watched a car coming toward me with the driver’s side front wheel folded up under the broken ball joint and it was sending a rooster tail of sparks out behind it.  The fellow driving it was still doing about 50 mph and I watched him in my rear view mirror until he was distant.  It’s a good thing it was raining, or he couldn’t have accomplished that idiotic feat without a fire.

Somewhere around daylight, the sun rose behind me as I passed through Waco and seeing I had never been there also, all I could wonder about was the David Koresh compound “Mount Karmel”.  I guess in all his wisdom, he didn’t realize a “mount” is a volcano and not a hill and he should have called the place Mont Koresh.  He might still be alive if he did.  It is indeed sad that a historic town like Waco should be associated with the Branch Davidian fiasco instead of all the other stuff that happened there in Texas history.

Hamilton, Comanche, Cross Plains, and finally Abilene – which a loop took me around it without me actually seeing the city.  Cattle drives and Indians.  According to Western scholar Louis L’Amour, the Comanche Indian was something no one wanted to encounter.  These plains are something to see.  Miles and miles of open air and I liked it.  In my mind’s eye, I could see millions of bison being chased by the Native American Mongol descendants, arrows flying and big animals collapsing.

I’ve never beheld a wind turbine in action, but when I came to Roscoe, Texas, which incidentally is home to the largest array of wind turbines almost anywhere, I got an eyeful.  Wow!  They are huge and there are almost 700 of them.  All around the array is evidence of last year’s cotton crop and I stopped and grabbed a stick of cotton for my office collection.  Evidently some cotton harvesters are more efficient than others, as some fields were very messy with missed cotton in abundance.  I imagine birds love the stuff for their nests, as do the mice and rats.

Lubbock has a large prairie dog population and a dedicated park where you can get very close to the little short-tailed dirt rats.  They stand on their hind legs and randomly make a high-pitched barking/chirping sound for no apparent reason that I could tell.  Watching them reminded me of The View for some reason.  While at the competition, which our Southeast Texas Team took third place, I saw a fox running like its tail was on fire and a cock pheasant in a cotton field.  I haven’t seen either of these animals in a long time and enjoyed the view.

The actual competition pitted the 6 regions of Texas against each other to find as many of the 75 (estimate) hidden geocaches as they could in 4 hours of brutal dash like you’re crazy frenzy, in which I was the driver for my part of my team.  Even with all the places we went, I still managed to put over 18,000 steps on my Garmin Fitbit in those 4 hours and that is a lot of walking and running in such a short amount of time.  Our little group found 36, which was pretty good.

There were so many geocaches hidden around town that we often didn’t see any other competitors.  Now to clarify, none of these geocaches counted against our real statistics.  They were put out for the competition only and are now probably removed.

I pulled out for the drive home Sunday morning again at 3:30AM and punched into my Nuvi to take me home.  Well, Garmin in all its wisdom, routed me down through Brownwood of all places, but in the end, it was about the same 600 miles and after the sun came up, I saw some of Texas I had never visited and yes, found a few more geocaches on my way back to beautiful Baytown.



Anonymous said...

Glad you enjoyed the trip. I've crossed Texas a few times, it's a long way to everywhere. SW

Anonymous said...

Ed Wisenbaler: You made me want to out geocaching.

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