Leaving the Mountains Behind

Day Ten, September 26, Mileage 667, 4764 Total


I woke up late for some reason. Maybe it was the stargazing I did last night through the panoramic moonroof. I finally had a moonless night to enjoy the western night sky, and I was not disappointed, so I stayed up later than usual identifying constellations that I usually can not see in the brighter skies of the East. Of course, maybe my late rising was because I was still on Pacific Coast time.

My campsite was still deserted as I quickly packed up, for the last time, all my camping paraphernalia. I was leaving the mountains, the west, and camping behind after this. My destination was Dallas, to stay with another ex-Bay Area friend. I had a moment of silence for appreciation of what I had, then blasted down the dirt road back to the superslab.

It was not until an hour later that I remembered. I selected that campground for its Fall colors. It is named “Fourth of July” for the brilliant maples that surround the area. When I arrived, there was only one that was truly glowing, and since the light had already faded, I told myself I would take a picture in the morning. Oops. So now all you get is a stolen photo someone else took. Thanks eliot_garvin!


Leaving late, I press on as fast as possible. Since I’ve left the mountains and crossed the Continental Divide, I am now stuck with some of the flattest territory in the US.

I sit through this table-flat land watching the landscapes as they change from desert scrubland, Juniper and Sage to a world of green grasses and mesquite trees. I watch The horizon slowly closing in on me as the trees are starting to block my view. I no longer can see entire trains but instead have to count the cars as they come into view.

Right before I get into Texas, I stop for my breakfast-on-the-go. The minute I open my door, I’m greeted with the smell of feedlots and the sound of flies. I quickly get my cereal ready and jump back in the car.


It is quite a change of scenery from 24 hours ago! Many of those flies, despite my quickness and best efforts, will keep me company throughout the day, refusing to go out the windows when I invite them to leave. Cheap entertainment?

I head into Texas and notice the many windmills. I loved one particular area where I saw pump jacks from the old energy method right in front of the windmills, the more sustainable energy source. I did not get a picture of that juxtaposition, but I did get plenty of the windmills. They are beautiful in a stark, Apple-esque way. My inquiring mind did wonder if all windmills turn the same direction (clockwise). Since I was back into cell range, Google answered that question!

All major horizontal axis turbines today rotate the same way (clockwise) to present a coherent view. However, early turbines rotated counter-clockwise like the old windmills, but a shift occurred from 1978 and on. The individualist-minded blade supplier Økær made the decision to change direction in order to be distinguished from the collective Tvind and their small wind turbines. Some of the blade customers were companies that later evolved into Vestas, Siemens, Enercon and Nordex. Public demand required that all turbines rotate the same way, and the success of these companies made clockwise the new standard.

So now you know.


Between Tajique, NM and Amarillo, TX, I watch the valleys turn from dry washes to  washes with a little bit of moisture in the middle, to a wash with some visible water here and there, till finally I see my first river with the water going from bank to bank. It seems strange and somewhat wasteful to my desert eyeballs.

I hit the Dallas area right around rush hour, so I take back roads to get to the Oak Cliff neighborhood where my friends live. James and Christie Kim moved there so James could start his own lab. James was yet another of my Bay Area Friday Night Beer Club friends (are you noticing a pattern?), and I love their neighborhood. A transitional neighborhood, their house is a beautiful old house that has been lovingly redone and is a very welcoming home! Close by is the Bishop Arts District, with incredible food and interesting galleries. We pick up some Texas-style barbeque at Lockhart Smokehouse and enjoy one heck of a good dinner catching up with their lives and getting killed many times by their son’s lightsaber. My wounds miraculously heal after a great night’s sleep in a real bed.

Links to the rest of the journey:

Leaving Nashvegas
Why I Don’t Camp in the East
Aunt Panda and Homebrew
Bucket List Maintenance
Gee, That’s Swell
AdversityHumanity and Home?
Hot and Cold
What I Learned From The OC, Part One
The OC, Part 2 – We Are Family
Brother Spike
A Big Hole (In Our Memory?)
Leaving the Mountains Behind

Categories: Friends, Travel

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