24 April 2011 – Go West Young Man

It has been a few years since I last took a road trip. Longer still since I did it for fun. Last weekend I accepted the always open invitation to visit my older brothers ranch located slightly north of the geographical center of the Great State of Texas.

The recent news talks about Texas burning from border to border with drought fueled wildfires and amazingly powerful thunder storms with the occasional tornado. I thought I would venture out and see what was going on.

There are 171,891,840 acres in Texas and there are varying accounts about how many acres have been charred by this years wildfires, but the reality is in the low tens of millions.

So I traveled west – west of Dallas then west of Fort Worth on past Weatherford and on and on some more to Cisco, Tx. From Cisco it is south bound for another hour or so. Along the way there were some indications of wildfire but mostly a hazy smoke filled sky.

I traveled separately from my brother – and his wife – and their daughter …. and his precious dog. In other words there was no room for me and my gear. I had been hesitant to drive my truck for large distances for fear of the expense of a far from home break down. But my old girl ran like a champ and after about three and one half hours we were in paradise.

Comanche Moon Ranch

Comanche Moon Ranch

No sign of wildfire on this section of land but lots and lots of dry winter grass and underbrush waiting for a spark.

We arrived around two hours before sun set so we settled in and pretty much spent the next  seven hours sitting on the porch watching the stars reveal themselves across a clear Texas sky.  I saw a couple satellites and at least 20 shooting stars before retiring for the night. This is exciting stuff for me because I can’t see the stars where I live and I am lucky to see the moon because of big city light pollution.

I slept on a couch so I slept lightly and was mostly awake when my brothers wife got up around 7am to make coffee and start breakfast. I grabbed my first cup and hit the porch to greet the dawning day. There were a few wild birds chirping back and forth and then the Mockingbird who sat in the highest tree and sang like Luciano Pavarotti competing against the two other tenors in a rendition of O’ solo mio. He was a proud bird and sang a different song than what I hear from his brothers and sisters in North Texas.

That night on the porch watching the stars really rested my soul and it would be difficult for me to describe the smell of bacon and eggs cooking over a fire as I worked on my second cup of coffee the following morning. It was a damn good feeling, one that I had not had in a long time. It just felt that things were good in the world and far different from how I wake up in the city.

I was hoping this part of the desert was under bloom but it seemed delayed as there has been little rainfall.  There were however some prickly pear cactus just on the verge of bloom – any smidgeon of rain would have them bursting.

Prickly Pear Cactus

Prickly Pear Cactus

Prickly Pear Cactus

Prickly Pear Cactus

Prickly Pear Cactus

I do consider this the true yellow rose of Texas

There were not as many insects as I expected but perhaps it is too early in the season. This is some type of grasshopper ( I will need to look it up) that was hanging out on the 4 wheeler.

Grasshopper

Grasshopper

I noticed that there were quite a few lizards in the area. I believe they were Laredo Striped Whip tails.  They were all over the place and quite interesting to watch.

Laredo Striped Whip Tail Lizard

Laredo Striped Whip Tail Lizard

Laredo Striped Whip Tail Lizard

Laredo Striped Whip Tail Lizard

Later in the day on Saturday we did a little target practice and this gave me a chance to test the parameters of the 8fps Canon 7D body.

Target Practice

Target Practice

Target Practice

Target Practice

Target Practice

Target Practice

After target practice we began to think about dinner. I brought a couple pieces of tenderloin from the local grocer but unfortunately it was not the USDA Prime that I pick up from Sam’s Wholesale Club.  Never the less it was good eats after a day on the ranch.

Dinner is Coming

Dinner is Coming

On the Grill

On the Grill

Mixed Green Salad

Mixed Green Salad

My sister in law made a great potato salad – it had Serrano peppers and cilantro. It definitely ranks in the top three potato salads I have ever had.

Potato Salad

Potato Salad

Steak Dinner

Steak Dinner

Steak Dinner

Steak Dinner

After dinner my brother noticed some wild hogs down at his deer feeder. Quick as a flash he grabbed his rifle and was able to kill this sow pig that weighed around 120 pounds.

Wild Pig

Wild Pig

Wild pigs are an invasive species and extremely destructive to ranches and farms.

Here you can see my brother hauling the sow off to some open land so that the native animals can make use of it.

Wild Pig

Wild Pig

It was a great day, certainly different than a normal day in the city. I awoke to fresh coffee, bacon and eggs. The sound of nature coming awake was amazing – you can hear sounds from miles away. I saw beautiful song birds and plenty of the black chinned hummingbirds. I got in a little target practice and saw my brother demonstrate why he is the number one hunter in the family.

The day ended with a stellar sun set. I didn’t realize it at the time but my brothers dog Rebel sneaked into the frame as I shot the sun set.

Texas Sunset

Texas Sunset

Sunday morning was Easter Morning and we had I nice breakfast and a little time to reflect on the meaning of this day.

I had a chance to tour the ranch on the four wheeler before we packed up to go home.

Going Home

Going Home

It was a relief to get home safe and sound. The only question now is when I will road trip again.