Odessa to Dallas April 13

When we woke in Odessa Texas we knew we had a long day of driving to reach Dallas by nightfall. We amused ourselves with the images we passed. The “oil grasshoppers” we saw were in many colors over the miles: white, beige, yellow, black, orange and black, blue and yellow, red and white.

In case you are unfamiliar with this breed of grasshopper!

There were many horses, also. We saw one group that was stunning with black manes and brown coats. There were five of these looking gorgeous under the trees on the edge of a green field , waiting for a dark, drippy rain cloud to pass over. We passed too quickly for me to get a photo.

We passed huge wind farms. They turbines looked like an invading alien army. The Stanton Wind Project contains 80 General Electric wind turbines with an estimated annual energy capability of 440 million kW hours.

In this area we also saw our first bluebonnets!

This for sale sign marked the house as overgrown. Look at the flowers out front though! We began seeing them in the highway median. At one point when the blue were mixing with the orange I made Bob stop so I could see what the orange flower was. Looking it up on line I learned the name. We wondered if Lady Bird Johnson had influence in getting these planted along the highways in her 1965 Highway Beautification Project?

There were also safety signs along the road with photos of a longhorn cow reading things like: “Text later …you herd me” and “I’ve got a beef with speeders.”

The Big Spring Refinery that “has the capacity of turning sweet and sour crude into highly refined products, from clean gasoline and petrochemical products to jet fuel and ultra-low-sulfur diesel – a cleaner, more-efficient fuel that offers an immediate answer to the concerns about greenhouse gas production and global warming.” Be that as it may, the place was eerily weird. flaming safety towers, acres of storage tanks, refinery plant after refining facility.

I saw one abandoned factory called the “Rogers Delinted Cottonseed Co.” Had never heard of that one. If I understand correctly, they processed cottonseed there using chemicals such as both sulfuric and hydrochloric acid, then neutralized the action of the acids with soda ash, lime or anhydrous ammonia. In 1984 the plant closed. In February, 2000 signs were posted warning of contamination and in 2002 the land received a hazard ranking system. In May, 2006 due to remediation actions the land was restricted for use of the property to commercial – industrial (non-residential). Yikes.

I would rather focus on the Bluebonnets!

NEWS FLASH!!

August 17, 2018 I wrote about treasures in Not Quite Plain Sight. I compared the Florida sea cow, the Manatee, and the microscopic Tardigrades, also known as water bears. To me they look alike and I find that amazing.

Manatee 882 pound – 1,210 pounds

Well, the news flash came up on Wired.com. Spivack was a scientist on the project. One reason he included tardigrades in this project: “Tardigrades are known to enter dormant states in which all metabolic processes stop and the water in their cells is replaced by a protein that effectively turns the cells into glass. Scientists have revived tardigrades that have spent up to 10 years in this dehydrated state, although in some cases they may be able to survive much longer without water.”

Here is the website in case you want the full scoop https://www.wired.com/story/a-crashed-israeli-lunar-lander-spilled-tardigrades-on-the-moon/amp

The Israeli Lunar lander that crashed was called the Beresheet. And when I listened to the Israeli broadcast on line the word sounds like Beara Sheet! I found that humorous: water bear and bear a sheet! “But when the Israelis confirmed Beresheet had been destroyed, Spivack was faced with a distressing question: Did he just smear the toughest animal in the known universe across the surface of the moon?”

Microscopic Water Bear

The short answer is yes. The big question is will they survive? Certainly these were dehydrated tardigrades, however, “Scientists are just beginning to understand how tardigrades manage to survive in so many unforgiving environments. It’s conceivable that as we learn more about tardigrades, we’ll discover ways to rehydrate them after much longer periods of dormancy.”

“Medically accurate image of a water bear”

And then perhaps the news gets better? “As for whether any of the …. tardigrades are still intact, that’s anyone’s guess, but Spivack says there’s no reason to worry about water bears taking over the moon. Any lunar tardigrades found by future humans will have to be brought back to Earth or somewhere with an atmosphere in order to rehydrate them. Whether this will be enough to bring them back to life, however, remains to be seen.”

Tardigrade probably stained for colors
Another Manatee

Evidently what they did is not illegal because it has been determined that the moon has “few of the necessary conditions for life and isn’t at risk of contamination.” But personally, I still find it weird.

Entering Texas

On our way to Las Cruces we saw large pecan groves and processing plants. I had no idea this area was a top producer! Just south of Las Cruces you are suddenly in the middle of the world’s largest family owned pecan orchard. The farm produces between 8 and 10 million pounds of nuts a year from over 180,000 trees, about 48 trees per acre. The Stahmanns own this. One son moved to Australia, made success with orchards, and they became the largest pecan producing family in the world!

We made our way towards the outskirts of El Paso. Ate at a local chain we had never heard of in Ohio, Don Carbon’s. They had such huge portions we ate leftovers for two days! I had chicken fajitas with rice and charro beans. The counter clerk could not explain the beans to me. Had never tried those beans so I took a chance. SPICY!!

It was my idea to see El Paso again. I did not remember passing through all those many years ago when we made our way from Fremont, California to Ohio. The next morning we visited the Keystone Heritage Center with desert botanical plants and a wetlands walkway. We so wished the plants had been identified better!

THE WETLAND HAD VERY LITTLE WATER.

The portion of the “wall” we saw at the border was just as ugly as imagined. Rusty iron and so unwelcoming.

Not at all like the Statue of Liberty sentiment that I had grown up believing. “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.” taken from an 1883 sonnet by Emma Lazarus. I understand the need to welcome people legally. This wall looked to me as if we are no longer welcoming even the legal immigrants.

Actual border crossing area into Ciudad Juarez

When we got out of downtown and the road began to be elevated we could see the Rio Grande river and the many homes in Juarez. The many colors of the houses reminded me of Florida! As we left town we went through an immigration checkpoint.

Travel the rest of the day featured an area of scrubland where the main feature was the oil industry. Derricks, pumps, refineries, trucks and trains. We were glad to get to our hotel in Odessa. Our memory of driving Texas in 1971 was if we had a rope we could have fastened the steering wheel on the VW van to just drive along the straight boring road across the state. Pretty much the same now!

After Albuquerque

As we traveled towards Las Cruces on I-25 we exited onto US 380 a very strange area indeed. We stopped at an old rock shop. They did not have much that we wanted. This area is mostly desert. Along the road there were picnic shelters with a tiny roof for shade. I had to wonder who would go there for a picnic? Perhaps others who were traveling through like us? We went through an area called the Valley of Fires. Here you can see outcroppings of lava flows from an ancient volcano.

Photo by Robert Dutina

The site at https://www.newmexico.org/listing/valley-of-fires-recreation-area-(blm)/1148/ states “Approximately 5,000 years ago, Little Black Peak erupted covering 125 square miles of the Tularosa Basin with molten rock up to 160 feet thick.” Very strange to be driving through the desert and seeing thick lava along the roadside! Dan had shown us the same phenomena in another part of the state. I do not think I would ever “get used to” seeing that.

In the desert plants are kept alive with drip lines.

Along this road we went through Alamogordo, which to this day I have difficulty pronouncing! (I can do each vowel/syllable, but not sight pronunciation.) We HAD to stop at McGinns’s PistachioLand: Home of the World’s Largest Pistachio. Being a nut lover I had to get a bag or two! They also boast the largest pistachio in the world. Here is a 35 second video of that item!

Then on the White Sands area as we worked our way towards the National Monument.

Wikipedia states that White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) “is a United States Army military testing area of almost 3,200 sq mi (8,300 km2) in parts of five counties in southern New Mexico. The largest military installation in the United States, WSMR and the 600,000-acre McGregor Range Complex at Fort Bliss to the south (southeast Tularosa Basin and on Otero Mesa) are contiguous areas for military testing.” I had to imagine with North Korea acting up these guys are plenty busy!

The White Sands National Monument was on our places to see as we had passed through it briefly in 1971. The National Monument gift shop today sells sleds and wax for snowboards as climbing and sliding down the dunes is permitted and obviously encouraged. One of the information rangers told us that the day before they had closed the monument due to such high winds. We had experienced those in Albuquerque and we were so glad we had not left a day earlier! Even this day there was limited visibility. Part way into the park we were both tasting the sand (which is made from gypsum) and I remembered that we had masks in the car console. We both donned the face masks and felt somewhat better. We decided not to get out and hike or slide down the dunes.

Sand blowing in the distance.

To me this is another place of amazement, that the Lord not only created it, but lets us see it! The National Park website states: “WSNM protects the world’s largest geologically unique gypsum dunefield and the flora and fauna living within it.” They occasionally close the monument road due to missile site testing, high temperatures and/or high winds. And we got to see this wonder again. Miles of soft white sand. Dune after dune. We saw people straining to walk in the wind. The vegetation growing out of the gypsum amazed me and their shadows were lovely on the white background. Bob said as the sand on the road got deeper it was like driving on a snow packed road.

Bob’s photo of the sand covered roadway.

Obviously there were some large drifts. Just look at the picnic area sign!

For the most part we had blue skies and as you can see Bob got some lovely shots!

Bob’s photo of the sand blown texture on the dune.

All in one day! Another load of varying experiences 🙂

The Machine and Family Language

To Grandma Rush the automobile in the drive was “The Machine,” as foreign-other as a horse and buggy would be to me. She never called the personal vehicle a car – for she had ridden the street cars and they never parked at your home! That was by German Grandmother.

There are so many sayings from my parents and grandparents. They randomly surface, but wow, I wish now I had realized how unique those sayings were and had written them down. Every family seems to have some sayings that others are unfamiliar with.

I remember when we were planning to go to Ireland and I bought a little book about the language. As I read through it I was amazed how many of those phrases we used in my family of origin. My Great Grandmother was Irish and I never knew her, but her language come down through the generations.

Saying someone was old was expressed as ‘no spring chicken.’ To express humidity my mother (along with the Irish) would often said ‘It is close.”If your left hand itches you’re about to receive money. “Pull up the covers” means bedclothes. The colander is a strainer. Growing up I never knew a housecoat was a dressing-gown!

And then there was the refrigerator that Mom always called an “ice box.” When I slip and use that term my granddaughters look at me with wonder, not understanding the term at all! See photo below if you do not know what I am talking about.

Hoping this stirred some fond verbal memories from your childhood, too!

Complaining About The Heat?

With only one or two days of typical heat and humidity, it seems we are all complaining about the weather in Ohio. I came across this poem I wrote April 9, 2018. Perhaps it might refresh your spirit?

Each twig is crusted with snow this April morning

The junco never looked so lovely

Jumping from branch to branch he blends

With grays and whites of early spring

That looks more like winter

The white hyacinths in full head of flower

Are also topped with a snow cap

It is a wonder their stems can hold such a load

The more sensible daffodils

Just bow and then rise with the thaw

Birds changing branches cause snow loads to

Plop to the ground

The birds are often unseen

Discerned only by lumps of falling snow

As temperature rises there are more plops than visits

The people generally complain

About the hold winter seems to have upon us

But I find the snow preferable to

Long rainy days of cold and wind

Nothing else paints a landscape quite so lovely

Soon I will be transported

By airplane and car to the height of summer

Days in the 80s and 90s

Sun, sand, shells and warm breezes

This morning I say good bye to winter

With a nod to her majestic painting

Movie with Friends

Our Grandgirls met us at the theater to watch this movie with our friends the Cookseys. Wow it was great. Music was terrific. Technology had me amazed. There were so many times the animals looked real and alive! So not much writing this week as we enjoy company! But enjoy the trailer!

In the credits I saw Elton John and someone else wrote the music and I think it said music producer was Pharrell Williams.