This is going to be a free-flowing post about random things I remember about the trip so far.
Currently, I am on a train somewhere in the heart of Texas making our way northeast toward Chicago.
I took my first ride in a Tesla. Not that I had to come to Texas to do that, but that’s where I was when I was offered the opportunity. I am now in love. I want a Tesla. We accelerated so fast I was actually pushed back into my seat. I think the astronauts could use the car for basic training. It was fun to see the car plugged into an outdoor ranch outlet. I am sure the outlet was originally installed so people using power tools or wanting to recharge the golf cart would have a place to plug in. Seeing the car plugged into the old outlet was amazing.
I did not see a single scorpion, snake, long horn or wild pig. I spent so much time worrying about scorpions and rattlesnakes that in the end it was somewhat disappointing not to see one. Some of my traveling companions did see a scorpion in the house we were staying in and they promptly squished it, but that was the only sighting. They also saw a small black snake, but again I wasn’t there so I missed it. And everyone was talking about the wild pig problem in Texas. But, do not mistake the wild pigs for the javelinas. Javelinas look like pigs but only weigh in at 60 pounds and are not related to wild boars. They are in the peccary family, a group of hoofed mammals originating from South America. Evidently, the wild pigs are something to be concerned about as they are destructive and can be dangerous to animals and humans. I read some interesting articles describing the differences between the wild pigs and the javelinas. I would love to have seen a javelina. If you want to see what a javelina looks like, click here.
We lucked out in terms of weather. The area we were in had been through several years of serious drought, but in the months right before we arrived some significant rain had fallen and greened up the land. Also, while it was more than 100 degrees in the week before we arrived, the temperature dropped into the high 80s and low to mid 90s while we were on the ranch. It was not nearly as humid as it is in Indiana.
I hadn’t been swimming in years, but on this trip I was in two different swimming pools and went twice to the swimming hole on the property. Swimming pools definitely make sense in this part of Texas. Indiana only has three months in which a pool is really useful. The places we visited in Texas rarely see snow for local residents cold is if it drops into the 40s. They get a lot more life out of the pool in Texas.
The swimming hole was awesome. The creek on my family property in Indiana is not clear. It is full of silt and mud so when you swim or wade you can’t really see what you are stepping on. The water in Texas was so clear. If there was a snake or a turtle, we could see it coming from a distance! There were several springs which fed the creek and provided water for the two homes on the ranch. For two days we lost water to one of the homes due to an unfortunate mowing accident. (An outdoor spigot was put in so close to the ground the person mowing didn’t see it). One of our party decided to go pioneer woman and bathed in the spring. We teased her that in the movies a handsome cowboy would have come along while she was bathing. But, she pointed out she did not put her petticoats over the bushes so the cowboy wouldn’t have known she was there.
The swimming hole had an amazing waterfall as well and was just like a high-priced spa. The water coming over the rocks into the swimming hole was really warm due to the sunbaked rocks. The closer you got to the waterfall, the warmer the water. If you laid right in the waterfall it was exactly like getting a deep tissue massage while lying in water. It may be the most relaxing thing I will ever experience in my life. From now on, whenever I am stressed, I am going to remember that feeling of stretching out in the waterfall and letting the water pound around me.
The creek running through the property was wide with deep holes below the springs, but almost dry above the springs. Above the springs we hiked over large slabs of rock (me worrying about rattlesnakes hiding under the rocks). The fossils were numerous. A ranch near where we were staying has dinosaur tracks on its land, which you can pay to go see, but we just didn’t have time to fit it in.
The closest town to our ranch was Utopia: home to about 300 people. It had a bank, a Justice of the Peace, café, a few churches, an antique store, gas station, grocery and a thrift store. I loved the grocery. I get overwhelmed in a Super Walmart. In this grocery there were four aisles of food and a small freezer section. If you wanted coffee they had two brands to choose from: Folgers and Maxwell House. When I shop at Kroger I have to look at 37 different types of coffee and ponder my decision. I could learn to love fewer choices.
The nearest Wal-Mart and movie theater were almost an hour away. Living in this area would mean you didn’t just drive out for a quick trip to the store because you forgot something. You would have to be happy working on your own land and doing your own thing. Jimmy Johns is definitely not delivering to this area and if they did, they would need to memorize a lot of gate codes because all the ranches had electronic gates.
While I didn’t see a lot of cattle, I did see pasture after pasture of goats. Thousands of goats. I also saw lots of pens of deer. Not sure if they were venison farms or if they deer were being raised for canned hunts. Texas sadly has a large canned hunting industry. I’m hoping the deer I saw were meat deer.
I did see several deer on the ranch. The property owners maintain feeders for both deer and turkey. The squirrels and the duck also enjoyed the feeders.
I lost count of the number of hummingbirds we saw. Barn swallows were also prevalent.
The part of Texas I was is called the Hill Country due to the many hills. Since this is the only part of Texas I have been in (except for a weekend once at a convention in San Antonio) I don’t have anything to compare with my stay. But, I do love the Hill Country. It was remote and beautiful.
While I will always call my beloved Parke County, Ind., home; spending this week on the ranch in Texas is something I will always remember.