Lift Off!

Lift off! We set out from Concan in the morning with our sights set on arriving in Santa Fe, New Mexico in the evening. We waved goodbye to Morgan’s family and the ranch and headed up the road north toward great adventures in my Honda Odyssey. We packed the spacious back of the van with gear and supplies. Part of the challenge of preparing for our trip from out at the ranch was that there aren’t many stores, and the ones that are out there are generally much more expensive (typically, approximately 1.5x). So, we ordered gear online, which is great with Amazon Prime shipping. But for some items we wanted to check them out in person or didn’t order them far enough ahead of time for them to arrive soon enough. When we left the ranch we were still short on some essential items, and planned to stop at camping outlets in Lubbock to stock up.

mountain pink along the road
mountain pink along the road

The wildflowers in the Texas hill country are renowned, particularly the bluebonnets and Indian paint bush that bloom in April. As the spring transforms into summer, the colors on the hills change. One of the most striking color combinations is the bright green grass with marbling of mountain pinks (Centaurium beyrichii) in front of white limestone backgrounds. I was startled by how well these contrary colors meshed together to create a beautiful landscape. I wish I had a better picture, but you get the gist from this blurred out the window shot.

wind turbines in the distance
wind turbines in the distance

The drive to Lubbock becomes very repetitive once you leave the rolling hills behind and travel into the great plains. There are still oil pumps operating along the roadside, but we saw far more wind turbines and lots of high voltage wires carrying the electricity. I’m always happy to see green energy in action. The argument that turbines spoil the view seems to place more emphasis on aesthetics than utility. Out here, I especially don’t see it. From my perspective, the turbines enhance the view and give me hope for a less fossil fuel dependent future.

strangely tall old hotel
strangely tall old hotel

One of the things I enjoy most about travelling is seeing interesting places that are obviously steeped in history. In a town that is fairly small and sprawling we saw an old highrise hotel—the only tall object on the horizon. Driving through town we saw several other buildings made from brick from a bygone era near the railroad tracks. Perhaps this was a boom town in the 1920’s that fell on hard times.

more turbines at sunset
more turbines at sunset

Shopping in Lubbock took longer than expected because we ended up needing to go to multiple stores. By the time we were done it was just before sunset. We decided we didn’t want to set up our first camp in the dark and late at night, so I looked up a campground called Buffalo Springs Lake, which was 15 minutes away and only $15 a night. As we drove out of Lubbock we saw more wind turbines, a stunning sunset, and a prairie dog town. The campground had very few people, so we were able to have a hillside to ourselves. The nearest other people we could see were across the lake. We got the tent set up and Morgan cooked dinner (hot dogs with hamburger helper and pasta) before it got dark. As we lay down in the tent we reflected to each other about how happy and excited we were to be living this dream.

watching sunset at our first camp
watching sunset at our first camp

Some Interesting Business Names We Noticed Along the Road:

A Family of Color Hair Salon (outskirts of San Angelo)

Pedro’s Sirloin in a Shack

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