What a visually stunning day. Expect lots of images this post - they seem a much better descriptor than anything I can find to say with words.
It started out white. Extremely white. As I left Lubbock headed west, a heavy mist blanketed the entire scene, applying a filter of grayish white to everything, blending the innate paleness of the sky, the drifts of sheltered snow dotting the fields and the wisps of recently harvested cotton that escape and snag against every conceivable source of friction in the landscape. The palette was SO monochromatic that my mind kept coming back to it again and again.
By the time I reached Plainview, I was ready for a cup of coffee and some breakfast. I huffily eschewed the Taco Cabana and the Denny's, searching for that little local cafe with the bad lighting and wear patterns in the formica on the counter where dishes have been set down in the same exact place for over 40 years. Bingo! There it was! The Nu-Griddle Cafe. I reviewed the menu and elected to have an order of cinnamon toast and some bacon. I bravely stirred powdered creamer into my coffee and marveled at how much the flavor resembled that of a beverage my granddaddy used to make me when I was a very little girl called "Papa coffee" - essentially weak Sanka with lots of sugar and non-dairy creamer. I would have played some Patsy Cline on my booth's jukebox unit to further enhance the experience, but I was a little afraid to touch the "Soft" or "Loud" buttons without surgical gloves. The place was jammed with locals and the people watching alone made it well worth my having stopped.
The entire day would in fact be a series of good stops in lots and lots of tiny towns, stitched together with long peaceful drives on quiet two lane blacktops through wide open scenery.
By the time I reached Earth (Texas), the day's predominant color had changed to mud. A heavy blanket of mist still covered the sky obliterating all but the must obvious details, but recent snow and ice, partially melted, some still intact, had saturated the deep red dirt so prevalent in the area and created a wealth of mud that seemed to adhere to every surface. It doesn't help that most of the folks out this way make their living farming and ranching and drive their huge trucks out of the fields and into town, leaving tire track shaped mud trails everywhere. Combined with signs of economic depression like the not-recentness of the eerie toppled gas station island overhang on the outskirts of town (see below), the town exhibits a worn down, weathered feel to it. I liked it plenty though. It has boatloads of character. I struck up a conversation with a woman who sold me a cold soda and asked her if she was born and raised here. Turns out her family had come here and they had just never decided to leave. She had experimented with living in Colorado Springs for a time, but had come back to Earth to live with her mama and other relatives when she realized what she longed for was home. Her story gave me a good feel for what it was I was experiencing in this tiny, inexplicable town. I walked across the street to the Earth Locker and bought some locally made hot beef jerky which was spicy and delicious. I left Earth feeling that it's probably the most aptly named town I've ever visited.
Then, a lot of meandering. Because the day was so visual, I ended up taking a LOT of pictures, many of which I'm pleased with.
Downtown Earth, Texas
Wildlife assortment at Texico, NM tourist info center
Quinceneras window display freak in Clovis, NM
Super Service Drive In, Yeso, NM
Super Service Drive In, Yeso, NM
The sun began to peek from behind the clouds shortly after I left Clovis, and by the time I reached Encino, there were only wisps of icy strata clouds high in the atmosphere, making for an absolutely specTACULAR displays of iridescence for several hours of my afternoon drive (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_iridescence) I had trouble staying on the road at times I got so busy looking at the rapidly changing empyreal display - thank goodness there were few other travellers in that remote realm.
By five, I was beginning to lose light and hadn't had my walk for the day so I selected the next town I came to - Vaughn, New Mexico - for my daily promenade. It turned out to be a great photographic subject, which made my walk even more delightful. Again, I'll just let the pictures speak for themselves:
I headed out of Vaughn, again, mightily satisfied with my daily walk, and began looking for a place to watch the sun set, a process that was well underway by then. When the colors became absolutely Maxfield Parrish, I found a nice gravel place (important in the abundant sea of mud) where I could pull over right next to an abandoned farmhouse. The sunset itself wasn't much to speak of, but the color of the light on the snow out there in that desolate wilderness was almost unbearably beautiful.
The day started in white and ended in white with all sorts of marvelous colors in between. I drove on through the dark toward Albuquerque where I'd spend the night, pictures of the day still playing through my mind. A very good day all in all.