Tuesday, May 30, 2006


The sun has riz, the sun has set, and we ain't out of Texas yet.

Driving out west from Dallas always enchants me. It was a slow-dawning occurence--my love for the rugged desolation of the west--but these landscapes are cemented in my affection among my favorites on earth. West beyond Fort Worth the terrain goes from relatively flat to gently rolling hills and distant mesas. Before you hit Wichita Falls, the first oil pumpjacks appear doing their perpetual grasshopper routines while hoovering up the water of life from deep underground. This landscape gives way to more hilly farmland (I noticed cotton growing) and lots of grazing for cows and horses. Beyond Wichita Falls is a farm with a herd of camels who looked quite happy, actually. I wondered if someone is manufacturing camel sausage or something...

On toward the Texas panhandle, the landscape becomes decidedly more sere, the vegetation consisting of more heat-hardy oily types such as sages and lots more cacti. This area is full of low-growing mesquite trees which have gnarled little trunks with fernlike foliage that sway in the wind like a forest of seaweed in the rush of tide. The earth here is bright red. There are occasional long bridges over flat dry areas that seem to make no sense. However, these bridges are over washes and forks from rivers (such as the Prairie Dog fork of the Red River) which are completely dry year-round except after a rain, at which time flash-floods barrel through the area.


By the time you reach the Amarillo area of the panhandle, you are baffled by the vastness of the flat plains stretching out in all directions. The wind there seems ever determined to sand-blast everything in its path, and storms there always seem spectacular to me.


We went to a family gathering (of dear friends of my mother's, not relations of our own) in Hereford which is about 40 miles southwest of Amarillo, and self-proclaimed cattle capitol of the world. If smelling is believing, then they've earned the title: the entire town smells like cow doodie. There I saw an enormous humpty-dumpty shaped woman riding a sparkly purple tricycle motorcycle. She was wearing tight polyester shorts with the waistband pulled up right under her tits. As long as I live, I'll wish I had a photograph to show you. It was very special. Maybe I'll make a trip to Hereford one day and stake out the corner where I saw her drive by, camera at the ready. If YOU were telling ME about her, I'd think you were exaggerating. Little stick legs, body round as a tomato, large and in charge.


Driving back east again on Sunday, we were astonished by spectacular cloud formations ahead, and a huge rainbow that was unbroken from horizon to horizon. The green of the new vegetation and the terracotta red earth looked especially vivid against the federal blue of the darkening skies. Suddenly, there was a sound like a gunshot hitting my car, and dozens more close on its heels. Hail. Hell. New car, and wouldn't you know it? We pulled off the road, as did most people: these quarter-sized chunks of ice were hitting cars hard enough without rushing to meet them head-on. The hail storm lasted about 25 minutes, which is the most protracted hail I've ever experienced. It was extraordinary and bracing, in a way, but I was concerned about having to drive the rest of the way home with no glass in the windshield. Remarkably, the vehicle came through with nary a scratch.


The whole trip was great, and I'll have photos later in the week. The junk shop I raided in Quanah yielded much in the way of goodies, but I opted not to buy the chicken, as I swore in the previous post. Instead I got a lot of other great crap. I got my crap-buying jollies enough to last me for a while, though I have vowed to take the pickup truck next time and fetch me a chicken. For sure!

14 comments:

nongirlfriend said...

Oh, everyone needs a Chicken!

Great descriptive post, by the way. Welcome back!

phlegmfatale said...

Yup, chickens are the other ornamental meat, besides us, of course! And dogs. Dogs am mighty cute. Thanks hon - glad you enjoyed it. It's good to be home. Loved your Hawaii pics, btw, and golly, you're up late!

Maven said...

Tho the pic is black and white, and of TWINS, I can say this was the first image that came to MY mind, when I read about the gal on the motorcycle:

http://www.thesneeze.com/art/guinness/twins.jpg

Vita said...

I enjoyed reading about your trip, and was reminded of my trips across Texas. I've only done it twice--once on the back of a motorcycle and once in a car. It was all just like you said. I hope the big chicken thing works out, because it sounds like maybe it would look great in your garden.

phlegmfatale said...

Wow, nuggetmaven - the twins are kinda scary! Fortunately for her, she hadn't succumbed to gravity quite as much as the twins, and her body was a perfect circle. She looked like she was happy as a clam and that actually made the spectacle kind of cute. Good for her for getting out and enjoying herself, I say!

vita - thanks for stopping by my blog - I like your blog. That ride across Texas on motorcycle must have been bracing. Yeah, I'm on fire for that big chicken. Like I said, I'll head back out there sometime soon with my pickup truck and it'll be easier to finagle the chicken acquisition. My mom kept yammering on about how it would be difficult to strap the 5' tall chicken to my luggage rack without damaging my chariot, and I couldn't stand her griping any more, so I finally said I wouldn't do it.

FatQuarterQuiltFarm said...

I'm soooo sure the purple mototrike babe would have brought a few tears to my eye....Go Granny Go! When we're too old to balance on 2 wheels anymore it's the trikecycle for us!!!! That way the old man can ride bitch-on-the back for a change!!!!Sounds like quite the cool-ass roadtrip.Cain't wait fer more!!

Barbara Bruederlin said...

What a great trip and so well told! I felt like I was in the backseat, dodging baseball-sized hailstones and admiring polyester-attired women on purple tricycles.

phlegmfatale said...

schnoobie - Yeah - she was having a grand time, and I thought it kicked ass that she would let it all hang out like that. For me it's not an inability to balance, but sheer laziness - if I ever get a bike-type-deal, it will be a trike so I don't have to pay SO much attention to remaining upright. I'm 40 now, and I've already decided it's too late for me to die young, and I'm just uppity enough to take up a trike any minute now. If I get pissed off, I may decide to kick ass and take names, so look out, world. Yeah, it WAS a great road trip. Thanks for your comment, babe!

barbara - Thanks hon. It really was more about the landscape, but then again, the journey is the destination sometimes, isn't it? You came along in spirit - I had my cd you made which I LOVED the crap out of! It's exciting to hear new veins of music I want to mine.

Dick said...

Ya know, I've made that same trek up and down 287 at least a dozen times over my life. You've shown me an entirely new way to look at it and I thank you.
Never did see the beauty as you have before.

phlegmfatale said...

Wow, I'm deeply complimented, dick. As I said, I didn't see it at first, but then it seemed to blossom before my eyes, this intractibly rugged landscape that speaks its own language of permanence and survival. I love it.

Anonymous said...

Why don't you start writing traveling books...or whatever topic suits you? 10 gal. buckets of talent here.

Jay Noel said...

If you can't get a chicken, maybe get an armadillo???

Mauser*Girl said...

Oh boy, I must be losing my grip on the English language. I could've sworn it said "Prairie DORK Fork".

phlegmfatale said...

leazwell - thank so much for the compliment - you are very sweet!

phoenix - wow. armadillo - on any roadside! *L*

mauser*girl - *L* Not likely you're losing your grip on English - more likely it's so late that you're glazing over, hon!