Sunday 1 April 2012

Texas: Goodbye to Midland - but first.. Planes.

Tuesday, February 7.: Airpower Museum and a long drive south
When planning the trip, Erik had come up with this link and suggested we go there, then said he could go there alone before I arrived if I wasn't interested. I guess he did not, at that time, expect my enthusiasm about it. However by the time the trip was drawing nearer, the blame for us planning to go there was all placed on me. No matter, that is one thing I am happy to take responsibility for, even though unwarranted. All I can say - there is no other reason for anyone to WANT to go to Midland than the Airpower museum. But if in the vicinity - do take the time, well worth it.

After spending a few hours at the museum, we got a slightly late start at what should have been an afternoon's drive south to Big Bend. It didn't take long before I got to experience firsthand a phenomenon that Erik had told me about, and that I referenced in an earlier post as being the cause of him arriving as late as I did: The car was overheating. Constantly.

Also, everywhere you go it might be flat around you, but the roads are sloping gently upwards. All the time. The Wagon disapproved.

Ah, yes, the flatness. On drive south, the flatness quickly started getting to me. Every house like a mountain on the horizon, every pumpjack like a rearing monument, set up to honour some unknown local deity. The first mesas and hills that started appearing around us as we drew south towards Fort Stockton was a relief, and as we crawled slowly into really hilly country some tension I hadn't really noticed disppeared, like a weight off my shoulders.

The original plan had been to stop for dinner in Marathon, before heading south to Big Bend, estimating that we should be settling in in our new spot sometime before 1900. Well, fat chance. It was dark, and closer to eight by the time we arrived at a crossroads in Marathon, and stopped to gas up once more before heading into the emptiness. The car had mysteriously stopped overheating a short while earlier, and we decided to push south and eat something or other when we got there.

Marathon gave us our first introduction to Marfa Public Radio, it being the only radio station out there. Not too long after leaving Marathon behind us Erik, to whom I left complete control of music or no music while driving (having had my share of cranky drivers disliking my input) had had enough of what they were playing that particular night and we again rode in silence. The moon was giving off enough light that we could see the outlines of the hills around us. Eerie, and not always representative. After a short while I started nodding off, at first fighting it then deciding it didn't matter. Thus I spent much the rest of the drive drifting in and out of sleep. Apparently Erik hadn't noticed. That is how taciturn I can be, I guess. He would every now and then say something and I would snap out of my doze and give a more or less coherent reply (I probably just hummed a lot, I honestly cannot recall). 

Climbing, climbing, up ever increasingly steep hills. (When we left, we checked, and apart from a mile of semi-flat it was basically 7miles or more of hill.) The Wagon thus snapped out of her good mood and started protesting again. Finally we reached Panther Junction, and was able to take a left and roll down what seemed very steep hills in the darkness. At this point, we were both overtired and wanted to be there already. When we reached a tunnel - a TUNNEL! - we actually both swore out loud then I started giggling hysterically. As it turned out, the tunnel meant we were almost there, and shortly we got to enjoy backing the KC in, in the darkness, in a populated RV park, at night, when most others seemed to be asleep. Every noise we made seemed to be amplified, and, might as well admit it, we made some noise, unhooking the trailer and setting things up in the dark.

There was noone at work that late, but they had left a note for us with information. Thus, the only welcoming committee didn't make itself known until Erik made some loud clangs trying to unhook the  trailer: A pack of coyotes started yipping at us to shut the hell up. It was my first encounter with them and the sound fascinated me - at first it sounded almost human (teenage girls screeching and laughing), before turning more doglike. They shut up and ducked out of sight when Erik shone his flashlight at them. 

Now having figured out that the cold draft that chilled me so the night before came from an unshuttered hatch in the KC's wall, and with an additional blanket, my second night in TX was more restful than the first.