As I passed from the familiar scenery of the Hill Country onto the broad, gently sweeping plains of the Texas panhandle, I was overjoyed to see that row after row of wind turbine soldiers were deployed onto the windswept reaches of that desolate landscape to harvest power for Texas millionaires. Yahooo! I never cease to be awed be the sight of all those giant machines, working in tandem. The heat-driven thunderstorm cells that I had been driving in and out of all afternoon made for a wonderfully dramatic backdrop and plenty of good turbine action.
I decided to stop in the outskirts of the vastly unappealing city of Lubbock and have a look at a home built by a fellow by the name of Robert Bruno. The Steel House is fashioned, unsurprisingly, completely out of steel - the oxide iced fantasy of a fanatic angle grinder such as myself. All its lines and surfaces are organic and flowing and curvy - the opposite of most people's concept of cold hard steel. Please see Robert's website for better pictures - including lots of the incredible interior: http://www.robertbruno.com/
Robert's home, his abode during construction of the Steel House, sits just a half block away. It too displays audacious curves and visionary shapes, but is instead covered in brightly colored swathes of mosaic and native rock. The mosaic motif even trails out into the yard in two vast, sweeping arcs of cobalt blue. The doorway seems to be the curious love child of the J.R.R. Tolkien and Mary Quant.
The spitting rain and persistent vapor lent a lugubrious, yet appropriate backdrop as I wandered quietly, reverently, beseechingly between the Steel House and Robert Bruno's home. Robert had spent quite a bit of his life working on both his home and the Steel House, but unfortunately died of a heart attack last December. Both houses are now empty, locked up tight with a thick layer of dust already in evidence to those bold enough to peek in the windows. Who on earth will be able to take up the torch (pun intended) and complete Robert's work? Who would possibly be willing to take over someone else's dream? I found myself fretting as I got back in the car. I don't usually have to face this aspect of the places I love so well.
As I drove back toward Lubbock, the sun had begun to drop on the horizon, gilding the recently saturated streets in incandescent gold. I stopped for gas and asked the clerk if there was someplace decent to eat around here - Slaton, Texas. The bemused and, dare I say embarrassed laugh that preceded her pronouncement that I didn't have a prayer, said it all.
I resumed my journey provisioned with a dinner sized package of peanut M & Ms. As I left the outskirts of bustling Slaton, I came across a giant holding pen for wind turbine parts. You'd have thought I was an 8 year old boy who just got a new air gun, I was so excited! I had to cross a soggy ditch and brave Texas sized grass burrs and fire ants to poke my camera lens through the fence. Every time I see one of those huge blades coming down the freeway on the back of a truck it makes me swoon. To see a whole pile of them like that, well, it made me downright giddy.
When I had sufficiently recovered from my turbine spotting episode, I headed out for another couple of hours of driving through the persisitent rain and dark, relieved finally to see the garish lights of Amarillo in the distance. I made a beeline for the Motel 6 and Waffle House and could barely keep my eyes open by the time I'd checked in and eaten. Ah, the luxuriantly dead tired of a good day of travel, the sleep of the gratefully reclined.