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Mythic West Texas

With time on my hands, I have been

The '96 Camaro bound for Marathon at about 170mph --- 2006 Roadrunner Open Road Race

thinking about the Terlingua Project quite a bit the last few days.  It is not that I haven’t spent quite a bit of time out in the Trans Pecos.   Up until 2006,  we went out there 2x a year to participate in the Open Road Racing events that took place in Ft. Stockton.   In all those years we never went any farther south than Sanderson or Marathon.  Oh, I knew Big Bend was down there all right.  Who didn’t?   It was a different time in my life.  The kids and I were out there to race — not sight see. My gig at the time was conspicuous consumption and proving things to people I didn’t know that did not even matter in retrospect.    I enjoyed  the people of West Texas and their easy acceptance of the racers.  They lived and worked in hard country and it showed in the way they carried themselves and lived everyday life.  They were different and I admired and enjoyed that aspect of West Texas.  I just failed to realize it was the land itself that influenced and shaped their lives in such a fashion.

So what has changed  in the 4 years since I last went to Ft Stockton?  Everything – mostly.  Me.  The Economy.  The Whole Country . All of us;  and everything is vastly different.  In 2006,  the country was mildly concerned about a slight dip in the economy.  Now we are wondering how it can get any worse.   I have changed as well.   Little by little, I have gotten rid of most of the material things I had accumulated over the years.  Stuff I thought I had to have at the time of purchase, objects I could simply not live without; all gone now.  The austere reality of living  full time in an RV was self inflicted monk-itude and it has grown on me.

Just today, I was watching Texas Country Reporter and the Simple Living  episode featuring Dick and Bonnie Cain came on.  They live in a 100 year old adobe ranch house with no modern amenities — just like it was 100 years ago.   I have seen the episode before and 2 quotes stand out.

Dick Cain said “ If I had to choose between a new pick up truck and a good horse, I do believe I would take the horse.”

and

“If it is all the same, I think I would like to finish up my life right here. It suits me just fine.”

The Cains will be my neighbors out in Terlingua  — just across the 118 from where we bought our property.   I have no intention of using coal oil lanterns and grinding my own wheat for bread but I can appreciate Dick Cain’s take on this modern world.  On top of that,   I am not one to dismiss karmic intent.   At times I think my future path is laid before me in none too suttle a fashion.

So why in the hell am I making all this fuss about Big Bend?

Call it what you will  – Far West Texas, The Desplobado, The Chihuahuan Desert,  The Trans Pecos or Big Bend – it all centers around that area of Texas where the Rio Grande takes that crazy turn deep into Northern Mexico.  No doubt it is hard country as evidenced by the number of hikers who perish in the park every year.  The very fact that it is hard country attracts me.  To make a go of it out there will be an accomplishment many have attempted and few have seen through to completion.  I need a challenge.

A House in Terlingua Ghost Town

It is an escape. I think everyone yearns for a simpler life where we can toss all the fluff aside. When did life become an hour commute, an upside down mortgage and mowing the yard on Saturday? I lived that life when the kids were coming up. It is not more than a lingering memory at this point; good riddance. Terlingua/Big Bend cuts the skin off the potato like a sharp knife. Life is so tough out there that the innocuous layers are peeled away and it reverts back to the old ways. Life is about surviving that day or that week or that year. Hard and close to the bone.

It is a land of stark beauty and contrast. I am not a child of the Desert. Miss Kathy is; growing up in Arizona. The locals say ” If it doesn’t bite or stick or sting you, it is a rock.” The mountains soar to almost 8000 feet, high enough to make their own micro-climates. You can see for 100 miles. The land is so raw you can see the upheavals of igneous and basalt that occurred 100 million years ago and still feel the power as if it was yesterday.

The Milky Way from Old Maverick Road courtesy Thomas J. Avery.

The night sky out there defies imagination and description. ( I jacked this photo from Thomas Avery. He has some stunning Big Bend photos on his website).   Each morning during the To Terlingua and Back Again trip I woke up looking forward to the adventures that day would bring.  It has been quite some time since I felt that alive.  I want to live a life where wonderment is everyday and life can be tasted on the tip of your tongue.

Societal Meltdown is not a determining factor but is is damned sure a consideration.  All my prepper acquaintances are laying in stockpiles of ammo for their favorite black rifles and pallets of MREs for The End of the World. They are busy building secret bunkers in their basements and making sure all family members are well rehearsed in the quote Bug Out Plan unquote. I can appreciate all of that because I share their concerns.  I just don’t embrace their solution  — not a damned bit.  The disquieting side of the Preppers and the Militia fanatics is that they secretly hope for the opportunity to initiate their End of the World plans.  Pretty twisted thinking that I want no part of.  If and perhaps when the Societal Meltdown occurs, I just want to be as far from big government and the big city masses as I can possibly be.   Big Bend is my refuge of choice.

With a nod to conventional thinking, I can’t ride these damned old dozers and work like a turk till I fall out in the harness.  There just ain’t no future in that.  Miss Kathy and I have a business plan that incorporates the land purchase in Big Bend Valley.  It is going to involve lots of sweat equity but I would rather be sweating for myself as somebody else.    And Big Bend is the place to do it.

End Note: For What Its Worth by Buffalo Springfield ca. 196-1968

Everything old is new again.

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6 comments to Mythic West Texas

  • The disquieting side of the Preppers and the Militia fanatics is that they secretly hope for the opportunity to initiate their End of the World plans.

    That’s almost offensive. You say a societal meltdown, however you want to define that, is a consideration for you, and you are taking some measure of preparatory steps by being “as far from big government and the big city masses as I can possibly be.”

    Yet I, without the option of a Big Bend refuge, by taking preparatory steps of my own, within the means I have, you know I’ve got a secret hope that Zombie Time comes to pass. Not just me, but the thousands of others who are learning to garden, learning to can, learning to blacksmith, learning to repair small engines, learning to sew, learning first aid — all those people, learning to take care of themselves, take control of their lives, take personal responsibility — we all just want to start shooting people.

    I don’t think you really believe that, and you certainly can’t prove it. You probably do know some people who have stated that they can’t wait for la Revolucion, but you might should lift your vision a little bit.

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    • admin

      Scott,

      I just said they want the ‘opportunity to initiate’ their plans. Nothing was said about shooting people — anywhere.

      I always appreciate your viewpoint and as with all things, the real truth lies between the 2 extremes.

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  • Don

    I just recently found your blog and find it most interesting and informative.

    Welcome to the West Texas addiction. You either love it or hate it, I for one long for my next trip daily. I was born in West Texas but unfortunately was had to leave many years ago due to my career.

    Some links you might find useful if you haven’t already found them.

    bigbendchat.com
    thefieldlab.org
    and John’s blog at the fieldlab.blogspot.com

    There are many more but to many to list here.

    Don

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  • I just said they want the ‘opportunity to initiate’ their plans.

    So, how would you define that, then? How would I ‘initiate’ my plan? ‘Initiate’ is pretty active verb, and fairly easy to lay out. What would be the steps I take to initiate my plans?

    The bottom line for me is that’s it’s irritating to be consigned, by someone I respect, to some dark hole of society, for the simple fact that I’ve bothered to prepare for hard times. Cest la vie.

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    • admin

      Nah, I never even placed you near these hard core guys, Maybe we are reading different prepper sites and maybe you are just pissed the Rangers missed the mark. I sure was pulling for them. Why did Lee pitch to Santeria (sp) anyway? Jeezus!

      Anyway, it is like this (for me). I read some sustainable living blogs, I read some off the grid all or nothing blogs and I read some blogs that always seem to circle back to what is best to kill the zombie hordes once the water is shut off.

      I read 4 blogs specifically that rail against anything and everything that pertains to organized society. The media is the devil; Why should I pay taxes?; ANY government involvement/interference/interdiction is bad juju. I finally got so tired of it that I called one of the whining bastards out and said ” You whining bastard. If it is so bad, why do you not bail out of the city you so despise and the job you hate and make a go of it in a rural environment?” His reply was ” Pay my child support and I could do that.” What? WTF? These guys are the ones that worry me Scott. They lack a true ground.

      These guys aren’t stockpiling heirloom seeds or work shirt patterns or handtools or mastering lost skills. They are boiling in their own virulence and just looking for an excuse to punish someone else for their miserable fucking lives. You and me and most all of Mature America is at least 180 degrees removed from these whack jobs. Prepper Ninjas, maybe that is what I should label them

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  • Like I said previously, I believe you should lift your eyes a little higher. It’s simple to find envious, angry loons, especially on the web, and especially on a subject as broad as Being Prepared. All I’m saying is they shouldn’t be used as a representative stand-in for people (like me) who think it’s not just the smart thing to do, but also their moral duty, to be prepared. So sayeth my Boy Scout Handbook, anyway.

    Not terribly angry over the Rangers — it was the greatest season in my life, so while I’m mopey about not winning it, I’m overjoyed I got to see it before I died. Also, Renteria, not Santeria. Although, dead chickens would definitely go a long way towards explaining Renteria’s series and the failure of the Ranger bats.

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