Friday, May 6, 2011

2011-10, Texas


Campground:  Hamlin City Rv Park.  Full Hookups, free first night, then $10 after that.  On Main Street, corner lot with about a dozen campsites.

Campground:  Faunt Le Roy Park.  Gatesville Tx.  This is a city park with 8 Rv sites and a couple tent sites.  30 amp Elect & Water. $15 per night.  Loop with campsites parallel to the circular road.  Park is used for local walks, picnic area and kids playground.  Sites were originally free for the first two nights, but they now charge for every day you stay.

I left Clovis NM heading SE on hwy 84 driving into Texas, the landscape changed from prairie to both dry farming and irrigated farm land.  I was told they now dig wells thousands of feet down to get to the water table.  Cotton, peanuts, alfalfa and hay are just being planted.  Many  of the farms containing those one armed oil rigs.  To the point the air is infused with the smell of pungent crude oil.  And the land is flat flat flat.

You know as I travel down these country roads, I love seeing the water towers off in the distance.  Many in this area are the bullet or stubby rocket looking water towers sitting high on their metal stilts.  The reason I like to see them on the horizon is that they let me know another community is up ahead.  Most of the town along hwy 84 are in the 5,000 to 6,000 population range.  Each with its own grain silos.  The high-rises of the farming community.   The more water towers, the larger the town.

Heading SE  from the Abilene area, again through the heart of Texas, I’ve left the vast farming communities behind and have entered the rolling hills covered with trees and grass, interspersed with cattle ranches. With small streams and rivers running through them.   Nice to finally hit areas with wooded landscapes once again.  I love driving down these country roads.  Some are 4 lane divided highways with grassy medians in between.  Others are true 2 lane country roads  following the curves and rolling topography.

I’ll be in  this this small community of Gatesville for a couple of days, doing some shopping and laundry before continuing my trek east.  I may even visit their history museum with the largest collection of spurs in the world.

Nice little community with the typical courthouse in the center of town.  It’s also the location of at least 5 prisons.  Each prison specializes in different enterprises, like making garments, agriculture and some even help in the local community rebuilding and fixing various community buildings.

While doing laundry today, I met the owner as he was fixing one of the dryers.  Started to tell me his story.  He has had 7 brain surgeries and with one, the Dr’s were certain he was dead…. Needless to say, he survived each one, costing over a million dollars.  He showed me the top of his head, and I must admit it sure looked all bumpy from all those surgeries.  At 70, he still works and maintains his business’s.  As he owns over a city block of property, some acreage that he leases out to a farmer, a home on the gulf coarse as well as another beautiful stone house on the top of a hill overlooking this wonderful part of Texas.  I wondered when he was going to begin living life and he did too.  But he said he keeps getting caught up in the next project that needs fixing or one of his business that needs managing.  Nice guy,  says he and his wife are almost ready to get out there and travel.

I in the meantime, explore the area and have really enjoyed staying in the city park.  It’s a spit of land surrounded on three sides by the small river.  A deep gorge created by years of erosion from the river.  Black cows graze in a pasture on one side leading into the park which is only two blocks from town, but miles away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the community.   I’m enjoying being surrounded by huge trees covered in their new spring growth, the grassy field dotted with more trees in the center of the park.  Locals come by throughout the day to have a picnic lunch, walk the circle or play with their kids.

Enjoyed reading a book this afternoon, while getting some sun.  It’s a perfect 78 degrees and sunny day.  Perfect afternoon to just enjoy a day in the park.  Note:  I'm the only camper in the park.

My final stay in Texas is Beaumont.  A town near the eastern boarder of Texas, oil country.  A town of about 100,000.  The downtown has a few tall buildings and when I drove around today, it appeared neat and clean downtown area, but almost completely deserted on a Friday morning.

I’ve come downtown to tour a few places, like the small Edison Museum.  A man who in grade school was told by his teacher that he was addled and was sent home.  Fortunately his mother believed in him and he was home schooled from then on, to eventually become the inventor with the most patents of any other person.

When he later married, he called his daughter Dot and his son, Dash after the years he had worked as a telegraph operator and helping to improve the equipment, before going onto to creating the electric light bulb, the phonograph, the first movie camera and projector, the nickel-iron alkaline storage battery and so many more.

More than that, I find his story compelling in that he was able to excel after that teacher sent him home.  He believed in exploring what had never been done with the idea that invention was 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.  Imagine what anyone else can do today with that same attitude.  Who will invent the next power source to replace fossil fuels, nuclear power and go beyond wind and solar power.  It’s out there, waiting for someone to invent it.  Hope I see it in my lifetime.

Oh and I went to their art museum, a super nice looking building, not terribly large, with only a couple galleries, the rest of the space taken up by conference rooms etc.  Saw two main exhibits, all large art pieces covering the huge gallery walls.  One artists media works of trees and animals…. Another, a local folk artist who created wonderful metal sculptures.  After his passing, the art community gathered his pieces and many are now on display in the museum.  Next door is the Energy museum.

I stopped by the McFaddin-Ward House and took a few pictures from the outside, but since they wouldn’t permit photos inside, I opted not to take the tour.  So you and I will just have to go online to see what the inside looked like.  They did have a big impressive visitor center building across the street from the historic house with a nice parking area.  Obviously they think this is one heck of a house.

Next stop, Bay St Louis.

Don't forget to check out a few extra pictures on my Picasa web site.

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