Dusty, Flat & Wind Blown- Journal from the West...

It’s Friday, April 6, 2018, and Sue and I are driving north on state road 285 in southern New Mexico just out of Carlsbad heading towards Santa Fe. We performed in Ft Stockton, TX last night. The tour started in Conway, Arkansas on Tuesday, April 3 at the Faulkner County Library.

 Cowboys, Boxing, Music and Dance Hall in Ft. Stockton

Cowboys, Boxing, Music and Dance Hall in Ft. Stockton

The gig at Conway was a small audience as a storm front came through with tornado warnings. Sue and I were camping on the Arkansas River at Toad Suck, an Army Corps of Engineers park. We were tent camping and hammered in the stakes with extra verve and attention. At the show, I knew the entire audience from previous shows I’d done there. Marketa, Alice, Jan and Glenn were there. Marketa wasn’t getting around as easily and was in a wheelchair and her good friend, Alice, was helping her around. Marketa told the story of how her grandmother would cut a storm in two so the storm wouldn’t touch their house. She’d grab a hatchet, go into the backyard and throw the hatchet into the dirt. Marketa said once a tornado came through, and her grandmother threw the hatchet. The storm split and devastated houses on either side of hers.

 The tent at Toad Suck, Arkansas April 3, 2018

The tent at Toad Suck, Arkansas April 3, 2018

Did I say it is flat out here? We’re twenty miles south of Artesia, New Mexico. We’ve seen pecan groves, brush, telephone and electrical lines. And then the occasional oil jack pump and cattle. Did I say it is dusty?

 The Pecan Groves in New Mexico April 6, 2018

The Pecan Groves in New Mexico April 6, 2018

In the morning after Conway we headed for Texas. We made tracks to Abilene. We had a reservation at the Abilene State Park near Buffalo Gap for Wednesday night, April 4. As we drove to Abilene, we listened to the many tributes to Dr. Martin Luther King on the radio. We got to the park just before dark and were able to get the tent set up just before the sun went down. Abilene State Park was much quieter than Toad Suck. At Toad Suck, there is a dam, and it creates a white noise, which I don’t mind for sleeping. But at Abilene, the nights sounds were the sounds of nature, various night birds and the occasional coyote.

We just reached Artesia. We just passed a car wash, and there were several RVs in line to wash the dust off. It would probably be a long wait for the rain to wash it off here. Did I say it was windy here? One thing we noticed was the litter. There are strong winds here, and it must be difficult to keep the litter from blowing everywhere.  Artesia has the railroad running through north/south. We saw some cars like we’ve never seen, most likely hauling oil. 

 

 Train heading south in New Mexico April 6, 2018

Train heading south in New Mexico April 6, 2018

 Train cars probably filled with oil. New Mexico April 6, 2018

Train cars probably filled with oil. New Mexico April 6, 2018

We rose in the morning at Abilene and packed up and headed south on SR 277 to SR 67 south. 67 was a two lane with gas and oil on both sides. At times you could smell the oil. The oil fields were scattered with the jack pumps and compressor stations.

 Compressor station in the oil fields. West Texas April 4, 2018

Compressor station in the oil fields. West Texas April 4, 2018

We’re twenty seven miles from Roswell. We’re either gonna fill up or beam up. The state roads heading north and south are straight and long. Towns separated by thirty or forty miles. In Red, our Volkswagen Golf, we are a minority. The road is traveled by mostly trucks, semis and pick-ups.

 Straight road, trucks and big sky. Highway 285 New Mexico April 6, 2018

Straight road, trucks and big sky. Highway 285 New Mexico April 6, 2018

Seven miles outside of Roswell and we’ve already felt signs of an alien presence.

 Roswell, New Mexico April 6, 2018

Roswell, New Mexico April 6, 2018

Heading north now on 285 on to Santa Fe, next town up, Vaughn just went by the 44 Ranch, looks like miles of brush. They had a neat brand with a non-angular, curvy 44. 

 Cowboy in New Mexico April 6, 2018

Cowboy in New Mexico April 6, 2018

I read a short story by John McPhee about cattle rustling in the west and the many different brands that ranchers use. John pointed out in the story how some brands are easier to duplicate and others that are easy to change, like an F to an E. The curly 44 may be one that is safe when it comes to changing. Just passed mile marker number 155. Just passed 156...dusty, flat and wind blown.

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Much Happiness, Billy and Sue April 7, 2018...

Billy Kemp