Rhetorical question: is it dull to drive across western Texas?
Well, “Yes” and “No”.
First, on the plus side, there are endless exquisite cloud formations (is THAT where my e-mails are stored?). Second, for introspection, a substantial lack of “interesting” sights provides a positive environment.
Alternately, if a desire to hear a human voice assails me, am limited to Russ Limbaugh – Sean Hanratty rants (amazingly, they do a GREAT job of identifying some of our nation’s problems: alas, rather than suggest rational solutions, they babble on about how to assign blame); mawkish (and, am being charitable here/hear) Country & Western music (do C&W singers imagine heartbreak does NOT take place in urban areas?); or “feel good” religious talk/music (sorry, folks, but sometimes, we agnostics have dissenting views). Having forgotten to pack my Patsy Cline, Nancy Gilliland, Wesla Whitfield CDs, am forced to practice my own grotesque singing (if Catholic theology is correct, not only is MY time in Purgatory cancelled, but suspect that of many others too).
By late afternoon, reach Balmorhea/TX. (May have mentioned that on my ferry ride from NJ to DE, a San Diego couple recommended “The Springs” here). So, chase down to Balmorhea SP, set up my campsite, and head off to their “pool”.
Now: there are “pools” and there are “POOLS”. This one is a gigantic “winged” pool, ranging from 3’ to 25’, with its own diving board). It also has signs suggesting stairs and bottom are “slippery” (an interesting euphemism for “slimy”… but that’s another story).
Dig thru van’s nether regions in search of my bathing suit, and am tempted to dive into tepid water and “return to the womb”. Instead, attach myself carefully to stair railings and step cautiously onto the first, water-covered algae-green stair… “Oh, MY GOD!”… it is COLD.
Now, for those of you without testicles, perhaps it is incomprehensible that there is no fear comparable to stepping slowly into cold water KNOWING that at some point, your groin is going to be immersed, and, whatever testicular phantasies you’ve entertained during your lifetime are about to be assaulted.
At any rate, embarrassed by 6-year-olds playing blissfully, imagine Robert Duvall as Evangelical preacher encouraging me to baptize myself, so push off. Body quickly adjusts and am instantly delighted. Lordy; Lordy: what a wuss.
A bit later, two young Canadian women, one campsite over, worried no doubt that there is neither tent nor cooking gear visible, offer to share their vegan dinner. Try to be polite, and suggest having eaten earlier in the day, and can only hope they don’t notice my dinner being cereal eaten within my van.
As sunlight falls, AM treated to a “starry night” which Van Gogh would have died for. At horizon’s edge, black mountains make magic silhouettes against post-sunset orange-pink glow, and, when black night invades, star spots offer atavistic joy.