The Texas Panhandle
Excerpted from my journal. In the High Plains of Texas.
Saturday, 12th October
Slow progress through the Panhandle. My backside hasn’t been this sore since South Carolina. I might look for some new ointment.
3 days to Lubbock all goin’ well. The wind and me bum are the major issues at the moment.
About a mile south of Spearman is a field in which in 1934 Charles Lindbergh and his wife landed in their plane to refuel. They were on their way from California to New York and chose a small town with 100 miles worth of fuel still left rather than have to cope with the crowds and attention of a bigger town. It was turned 11am when I cycled past loaded up with a Combo meal of some description from the Dairy Queen.
It was a beautiful day, the sky cloudless again and the wind, although into my face, was less than 10mph. Had I known that in advance I could’ve tried to make the whole 90 miles into Amarillo.
The flatness continued. Milo, corn, bales of hay, the horizon broken only by grain bins, windmills, and low-roofed houses. It was 31 miles to the next town - Stinnett.
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It said that in November 1864 the largest Indian battle in the Civil War took place when 3,000 Commanches and Kiowa who were allied to the South, attacked 372 Confederate soldiers led by Col. Kit Carson, the famous scout and mountain man. It was Carson’s last fight and reportedly his best, even if he did lose.
The second Battle of Adobe Walls was in 1874 and this involved 300 of the same Indians against 79 or so buffalo hunters. This one the Indians lost and it opened the way for settlement of the Panhandle.
Stennitt had a huge County Courthouse, built in the 1930s in a mock Spanish style. It was quite an impressive building and looked great perched high up off the road with the US and Texas flags flying in the strong breeze and the water tower in the background.
The only thing open for me was another Dairy Queen but I had a Burrito Deluxe and a Corn Dog to make it seem different to breakfast. Worked out that my mosquito bites couldn’t be multiplying so the Gatorade must be giving me hives with its high fruit juice content so I heavily diluted it with water.
When I saw a sign that said Stinnett was the home of the West Texas Commanches I got momentarily excited until I realised that it was referring to a football team rather than Native Americans.
It was 13 miles into Borger and by now the wind had strengthened considerably so I wouldn’t've made it to Amarillo after all. A 4-lane highway all the way but with a shoulder.
I spent most of the day thinking of life at home after this is over. I was mulling over the word of freelance contracts available at a big Irish financial firm and thinking they made sense, if I must return to computing. In my head I had my own place and was able to host the people who have helped me on this trip .
3 miles, maybe 4, outside of Borger the road dropped into a canyon. This was for the Canadian River and yes I did go over a bridge at the bottom but no, I saw no water. About 5 miles west down the canyon is Lake Meredith - the major recreational area of the Panhandle.
This is Hutchison County and I read of Fritz Thompson from this town who had conceived of the Highway system of Texas. So far I’m happy with his work. Borger is also the home of Miss Texas. I forget her name.
Given that it was after 5pm, all the shops were now closed so the Main Street was deserted. Completely deserted like Dublin’s Henry Street on a Sunday (excluding the Christmas build-up). A few of the shops had the name “Boomtown” in them which, apart from making me sing “I don’t like Mondays”, was a reference to the town’s beginnings founded on the discovery of oil.
Spoke with my Lubbock host to be and gave him Tuesday 6:30pm as my estimated time of arrival subject to wind. It’ll be interesting staying with him and his son.
And then New Mexico.
Laughed a few times today remembering the good nature of my stay in Liberal, Kansas. I should call the people that gave me that contact and tell them. This morning’s postcard went to Dublin; whose turn is it next?
After my two thirds of a pound burger and malt (something like a milk shake) I’m very much full.
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