At the end of June 2020, I went on a four day ride out to what is variously referred to as west Texas, the southern plains, the southern panhandle, and the Permian Basin region of Texas. I visited 22 Texas county courthouses on this trip, bringing my total to 225. I only lack 29 counties on this quest.
On the second day, I became obsessed with getting a photo of a trio of things that are ubiquitous in Texas, but not easy to get into one shot. Here’s one with a windmill, a solar panel, and a bovine.
It was my second ride during the COVID-19 Pandemic. I took a face mask for whenever I went indoors around others, as well as some gloves, disinfecting wipes, and hand sanitizer, as needed.
On day 1, June 26th, I headed west and my first new county was Sterling, northwest of San Angelo. Next stop was Garden City (Glasscock County). Then it was on to Midland (Midland County), then Odessa (Ector County).
The Midland-Odessa twin city area is considered the heart of the Permian Basin, a geological feature and source of rich oil and gas deposits. Midland is so named because it was the midway point between Fort Worth and El Paso on the Texas and Pacific Railroad. Odessa is home to the University of Texas Permian Basin.
On day 2, I headed south to Crane (Crane County), east to Rankin (Upton County), Big Lake (Reagan County), Mertzon (Irion County), north to Colorado City (Mitchell County), back west to Big Spring (Howard County), Stanton (Martin County), then back to Odessa for the night.
Day 3 took me north on a zig-zag path to Lubbock. First stop was Andrews (Andrews County), then Seminole (Gaines County), and Lamesa (Dawson County).
Outside of Lamesa I was able to capture another Texas Trio, an oil jack, a modern wind turbine, and a horse. Actually, there’s a fourth icon on the horizon, a large irrigation sprinkler.
Next stop was Gail (Borden County). I was getting low on fuel, and planning to fill up there. I arrived in Gail and did not see a single filling station. There is an RV park there, and figured I could go knock on some doors and find someone with a spare gallon I could buy. But then I saw someone park outside what appeared to be a small convenience store, so I asked him if he knew of the nearest filling station. He turned and pointed right next door. I had to do a double take, since I didn’t see anything that looked like a gas station. As I moved closer, I found my salvation. Self service, credit card reader, no shade from the sun, but gasoline!
Texas is an energy state, and nowhere is this more evident than…virtually anywhere in western Texas. Not only is the oil and gas industry ubiquitous with its pumps, storage tanks, refineries, and other infrastructure, but clean renewable energy is becoming another symbol of Texas power. There are multiple stretches where you can drive for miles at a time and in every direction see hundreds of wind turbines as far as the eye can see. Huge solar projects are up and running and in development. There are two of them between Lamesa and Gail that dominate the landscape there.
After Gail, it was on to Tahoka (Lynn County), Brownfield (Terry County), Plains (Yoakum County), Morton (Cochran County), and Levelland (Hockley County), before ending up in Lubbock for the night, where I had a nice dinner with my daughter.
The final day included stops in Post (Garza County) and Snyder (Scurry County).