Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Day 42 - South Llano River State Park, TX

This morning we said an early goodbye to Brantley Lake State Park.  This was the view from our campsite at sunrise this morning.  We had 368 miles to cover today and one time zone change. 

  • We kept seeing signs indicating "Relief Route" and thought maybe this was some kind of evacuation route (in case of flooding?).  Nope.  It is a business district bypass.

  • There are a lot of businesses that are closed and many of the towns we passed through this morning looked sadly ruined.  But there are quite a few businesses that offer cash loans for car titles.  I can't help but think that is a very bad idea.

  • If I had any doubt about New Mexico or Texas being big in the oil business, those doubts are gone.  We we off-interstate for a good deal of the day and smack in the middle of the oil fields with nothing around but drilling rigs, pumps, storage tanks, seismic work crews, and fleets of white trucks with the name Halliburton on them.  I felt like a character in a Stephen King novel.  Innocent traveler riding unsuspecting through the desert while the band of evil Halliburton minions plots global destruction.

  • We saw new wells being drilled for the first time today rather than just the pumps in the oil fields.  These are not drilled using the old style derricks as I had expected but rather something more like we see at home drilling water wells.  These are probably much easier to get to the drill site and use.  There certainly were a lot of very big trucks carrying strange looking equipment that must have been related to drilling or pumping or transporting the oil.  
  • One of the new wells must have hit a pocket of gas and this was simply being burned.  It looked like a huge candle.  I didn't think that was done anymore but I was mistaken.  Most of the road signs that we saw this morning were pointing to "Rig 14" or "Rig 284" or warning that there was a "seismic work crew ahead".  I had no idea of the infrastructure that seems to be needed to support the oil industry.  First you find a spot where there might be oil, then you scrape a road to the sight, then you drill the well, then you put in a pump which must use electricity so you needed to run electricity to it, then you need to be sure you had your pipeline all dug with pipes buried and these hooked up to pumping stations and storage tanks.  It looked funny to see six large tanker trucks sitting at one of these storage places with their umbilical pumps hooked up getting loaded with this crude material to be delivered to a refinery.  Kind of like cows at a milking station only in reverse.  The stuff that is pumped up is a mixture of oil and water which gets separated somehow.  The pump we investigated yesterday had one tank next to it labeled "water".
  • There are some wind farms in west Texas.

This isn't one of the wind farms, but I do love a gas station that has it's own windmill.  How efficient.

  • The speed limit on I10 in Texas is 80mph.

The landscape continued to change as we moved east.  We started to see buttes and mesas and now we are in the "hill country" area of Texas.  There are actually trees!

We are staying at South Llano River State Park in Junction,TX.  Junction is named for its location at the confluence of the North and South Llano rivers. The park is a very pretty place.  The river really does have water running water in it.  We surprised two turtles on the road as we approached.  There is a large turkey roosting (not roasting) area, some bird viewing blinds and miles of walking and biking trails.  The campsite has a nice sheltered picnic table, concrete pad, fire ring and barbecue.

When we arrived in Junction the first think we needed to do was get fuel (we had 5 gallons left in the tank).  Brett asked where the best BBQ in town could be had.  They directed us to Lum's BBQ and they weren't kidding.

I had the ribs, potato salad, coleslaw, pickles, 2 slices of unbuttered white bread (don't ask, it just came with the meal) and sweet tea.  $9.99!
Brett had the brisket.

I want to approach people with curiosity rather than suspicion.  This is the nice young man working at the BBQ.  I asked him what he liked the best and he recommended the ribs.  When I asked if I could take his picture he first said no but then wanted to know why.  I told him I wanted pictures of all the nice people that I met on my trip.  He posed for me! 

Now as soon as I can breathe again, I will have to do something about that piece of coconut cream pie to go that is sitting in the refrigerator.

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