Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Essays from Texas is Moving to Word Press

I am moving Essays from Texas to a new blog host.

Please update the address to Essays from Texas to .

Many thanks.


Scenes from the airport

While you usually don't want to see storm clouds closing in on the runway just before you're supposed to take off, this particular storm provided a spectacular view at the Preston Smith International Airport in Lubbock last week.

I've said many times that the sunsets in West Texas make all the windy/blowing dust/nasty days that often occur in the spring seem worthwhile.

Monday, March 8, 2010

California and back

While in Anaheim, California last week, I enjoyed the lovely West Coast weather...

but only while I was walking between hotels and the convention center.

Snow-capped mountains in the distance and palm trees were taunting me the whole time as I went from meeting to reception to dinner to meeting.

The red carpet of Oscar night was just 20 miles from where I was staying. Disneyland was just behind my hotel.

On Friday night, I watched a spectacular fireworks show at Disneyland from my hotel room.

I did enjoy a brief lunch out in the California sun at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.

But then it was back to meetings.

The southwest deserts provided beautiful views from the plane ride home.

A quick circle out over the Pacific Coast, and we were soon over baron sand and mountains.

I connected in Las Vegas, which definitely helped the travel time home go by much quicker.

The Las Vegas Strip (circled above) is right next to the airport, but I only saw it from the plane's window and from the window at the airport terminal.

I did, however, win $21.75 on a slot machine from a $1 bill. Not a bad return.

I'm always amused at the arial view of the Grand Canyon on the fligh from Vegas to Lubbock. It was somewhat of a cloudy day, but I still got to see most of it in its majesty.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Texas Independence Day

Today is an important day in the history of the Lone Star State - Texas Independence Day.

Rather than rambling about my own thoughts about the day, I'm going to refer you to a great blog by someone who has had a big influence on my photographic eye and is a Texan in the truest sense. The blog is written by Wyman Meinzer, who is the official photographer for the state of Texas. Yes, Texas has its own photographer. In his latest entry, Wyman discusses a historical look back on the Llano Estacado, which reminds you of how unforgiving and wild the area once was.

Never have I met anyone who has such a passion for the heritage and idealism of what Texas represents. His blog speaks for itself - The Blog of Texas State Photographer Wyman Meinzer . 

While in graduate school at Texas Tech, I took the 4300 photography class Wyman refers to in his latest blog entry, and I haven't looked through a camera's viewfinder the same way since. The man has published book after book, each illustrating a look at Texas that no other has been able to capture. He is a true Texan and a legend in his own time. Read his blog, buy his books. 

For another perspective on Texas Independence Day, take a look at the Texas Department of Agriculture Commissioner's blog. Commissioner Todd Staples briefly discusses the adventurous story of how Texas gained its independence from Mexico on March 2, 1836.

I'm not a native Texan, but I think Texas represents a little independence in all of us.

Headed to the OC

My travels are taking me to Anaheim, California this week for Commodity Classic. (You may recall previous postings from Classics in Nashville in '08 and Grapevine in '09. Oh, wait...I wasn't keeping a blog when it was in Nashville. Nevermind.)

Currently, I'm stationed in Albuquerque, New Mexico and enduring a four hour layover. My flight will leave here, make a brief stop in Phoenix, then finally arrive at the Orange County airport near Anaheim at 5pm PST (7pm CST). There doesn't seem to be a quick way to get to "the OC" from Lubbock via Southwest, but my loyalty to the fun-loving airlines and my disdain for American Airlines keeps me on the big blue and orange jet. Plus, even at this rate I'm still more likely to get there before any of the delay-prone airlines could.

I sincerely wish I could better visually document the people I see in airports. Every airport has its own culture. New Mexico, of course, definitely has its own culture - lots of poorly shaped felt hats, fleece jackets with giant wolf graphics on the back, and lots of chilli pepper knick knacks.

The flight from Lubbock to Albuquerque is pretty short. It's just enough time to enter another timezone and for the landscape to turn into a more desert/mountain range look.

The term "enscarpment" came to mind several times as I peered out the window on the short flight over from the LBK. Flat desert or agricultural land turns into cliffs and canyons with the rise in elevation.

Then, before you know it, you start seeing the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Sandia Peak (a ski resort) is near the Albuquerque/Santa Fe area. "Sandia" means "watermelon", according to my husband the human atlas.

So, for another few hours, I will observe the people of New Mexico as I journery to the most populous state in the country.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Where is Lubbock, Texas?

Living in a town of just over 200,000 people out in the middle of the Llano Estacado, I'm often reminded of how far away Lubbock, Texas is from other places, and yet how close it is to other places.

Lubbock is at an elevation of 3,256 feet above sea level. That can be hard to believe considering it's flatter than a pancake on top of the Caprock, but we are also just a few hundred miles east of the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. For comparison's sake, Fayetteville, Ark., in the Ozarks Mountains is at 1,400 feet above sea level.

I've seen ice storms in the morning in Lubbock and dust storms in the afternoon on the same day. There has been drought in West Texas that could rival the desert, but I've also seen it rain 10 inches in eight hours. Just this winter, we've had four to five snows that measured over 3 - 5 inches here in the LBK and nights in the single digits, but we've had summers where it stayed above 100 degrees for weeks.

To reiterate, Lubbock is as far away from places as it is close to places.

I'd like to begin with the spacial awesomeness that exists in Texas. From Dalhart to Brownsville, it's 900 miles and approximately 14 hours by car. Texas Monthly recently did an article outlining a "bucket list" that every Texan should complete before they die, and it included making the drive from Dalhart, in the extreme northwest corner of the Panhandle, to Brownsville, which is at the extreme southern tip of Texas on the Mexican border. While I've only driven portions of the trip on seperate occasions, I can still attest - it's a long darn way and this is a big ol' state!

Likewise, it's 950 miles from Texarkana, Texas to El Paso in the far western edge of the state.

For comparison, a person could leave Fayetteville, Arkansas and nearly reach the Canadian border in the amount of distance and time it takes to travel this length of Texas.

It's actually about the same distance for me to drive to Arkansas as it is to drive to Houston (575 miles, 9 hours) in the same state. Also, in the same amount of time and distance as it takes to get to PG from the LBK, I could go west and be in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Lubbock is approximately 600 miles from my hometown of Prairie Grove, Ark. And, that's if you go the route that goes through Amarillo and east on I-40. If you take the more scenic route through Wichita Falls, then north to Oklahoma City, then it's roughly 560ish miles to PG. 

I've been asked if I'm close to San Antonio. 

I'm actually much closer to ski resorts than I am to San Antonio. Lubbock is 407 miles from San Antonio, which is approximately 6.5 hours by car. It's only 250 miles from Ruidoso, New Mexico, where they currently have a 60" base at their ski resort.

Lubbock is 347 miles and 5.5 hours from Dallas. Fayetteville is 333 miles to Dallas.

Lubbock is 382 miles and 6.5 hours from the capitol city of Austin.

Lubbock is 545 miles and 9 hours from Denver, Colorado. Fayetteville is 810 miles and nearly 13 hours from Colorado's capitol city.

I say all of this not to boast, but to marvel at the size and geographical amazingness of the state of Texas. It's huge. It's diverse. It's like no other state in the Union. It is home to five different types of ecosystems from tropical to desert. There are beaches, canyons, prairies, swamps, mountains, and the list goes on.

It really is "like an whole other country".

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Some visitors from the east made their way to Lubbock despite the curve balls Mother Nature kept throwing in their way.

Nearly a foot of snow in Dallas prevented my mom and dad from getting here on Thursday, as it was originally planned. But, thanks to good customer service from Southwest Airlines, they arrived safely on Friday.

The weather wasn't the only curve ball thrown during their visit. We had planned to head up to the Palo Duro Canyon on Saturday to enjoy the first nice (and semi warm) day in a long while. However, a slightly flooded garage due to a busted hot water heater changed our plans.

While this may have seemed like a big bummer, it couldn't have happened at a better time. The world's handiest man happened to be staying in our house. So, while Dad and Byron installed a completely new water heater setup (including new pipes and ventilation), Mom (the world's handiest interior decorator) and I made a couple of trips to Hobby Lobby and to DSW.

Since our original trip into the West Texas wilderness was cancelled, we decided to head to Rotan to show Dad around Byron's home place.

Unfortunately, the weather wasn't nearly as pleasant as it had been the previous day. The wind was howling and the temperature had dropped. But, that didn't keep us from journeying into the mesquites and salt cedars of the Double Mountain region.

After seeing a sizeable muledeer the previous weekend, I was hoping to show them some evidence of the crazy amount of wildlife that roam this area - mainly to keep them from thinking I was telling tale tales.

We did scare up a group of about 8-10 feral hogs that were resting in standing water. They were as surprised to see us as we were to see them, because we were within about 20 yards of them when we they darted away. As luck would have it, we never have a rifle when we see hogs that close.

We took a look at the images the game camera had captured, then hiked up to a taller point overlooking the Brazos River.

With cold ears and thirsty mouths, we eventually wandered back to the truck.

It was a rare occasion to see widespread mud and standing water in Rotan.

The weekend was also special for another reason - not because it was silly Valentines Day. It was a year from the Friday the 13th of last year when Byron proposed to me in San Antonio.

Time flies when you're having fun.