A Rule of thumb

We got up early today (24th May) (not by any conscious choice, but just cos we were wide awake on European time), and went for a walk with the dog. Not our dog, of course (poor Zeppers), but Boudin - a dachsund belonging to our neighbour in Fort Richardson, a chap called Randall. He is a retired oil engineer, worked for Halliburton. So typically American, in our experience; polite, friendly, entirely open (he told us about losing his wife to cancer, but how happy he was to have such wonderful sons...). Peoples lives - fascinating. Ultimately, we're all the same.

Apparently Randall has lived all over the world... ...we chatted for twenty minutes or so, and he told us about recovering this bridge trestle from the nearby creek when the railroad was dismantled. Nice guy.

Randall's Bridge

Boudin and Randall

Left Fort Richardson State Park after our walk and a 'visit':

 at about 8am and drove to Jacksboro to steal free wifi from outside the police station. Also took a few photos of the police cars (complete with standard issue Texan shotgun between the seats).

Pole -eece

Shotgun (see? there, in the darkness...)

Nearly got in trouble for this, but I did ask just in time!

"We thought it was a bit weird y'all taking them there pho toes of our patrol vee hickles ! But you can go right ahead sir."

Oops. Fortunately, they apparently have quite a relaxed attitude towards criminality here; they even making it easy for the druggies:

After talking to folks back home on Skype/FB/iMessage/Kings Carrier Pigeon, we sat in the cab and made a momentous decision - we would aim for Roswell, NM. See if we could do our own investigation into the UFO crash; maybe get kidnapped by aliens or something (I hope they have wifi). 

So that's what we did (headed for Roswell, not got kidnapped - not yet anyway). Took the Farm Road 380 West...  and what an amazing road that is! Sarah drove the first part towards Graham, through a coal mining town called Newcastle (!), population 900, and on through County Throckmorton. Miles and miles of empty two-lane blacktop, with the odd truck every 10 minutes opposite direction. Other than that, a few farms and lots and lots of nothing. We keep looking at each other and shaking our heads - what do people DO out here?? 

When you travel to the mountains, or to see 'something', it's easy to take a picture and show people what it looks like. It's not so easy to explain the countryside here; it's just as impressive as the mountains and the oceans but in an entirely different, oppressive way. It goes on and on and on, and the sheer scale of it makes you go 'wow'. Here's an idea of what I mean in photos, as we were driving at 60mph:

Taken at 11.22

Taken at 11.43

Taken at 12.01

See what I mean? Incredible, just by virtue of the range! Here's a newsflash: this is a BIG country. A beautiful, idyllic landscape, but more than that?

There's absolutely bloody nothing. The houses are mostly decrepit, decaying hovels. The towns are boarded, and feel lonely and cold, despite the 35 degrees. Take this town as a 'Rule of thumb';  remember; this is Main Street in the town of Rule. As Sarah asked ironically, as she turned on the generator to make a coffee,  is there a possibility the noise would disturb the shopkeepers? The only shop open was an antiques shop - probably, as Sarah also noted, only cos they were flogging everyone else's old shit. This is a sad, decaying, dead place. A zombie town.

The Rule, and not the exception

Odd things on the way: the profession of 'Chuckwagon Outfitters' ; anyone ?? And what's an adobe bed? 

We drove on, through the Texan plains, towards Old Glory.