Ammo Grrrll advises: GO WEST YOUNG MAN! (When you hit West Texas, Keeping Going). She writes:
I was on my way from Arizona to Minnesota when I passed through Jeff Davis County in West Texas. I was astonished that it was still allowed to exist! Maybe those totalitarian idiots who would knock down and vandalize our history did not recognize the President of the Confederacy as “Jeff” without his full name. Pretty soon, it might just be JD County. Or maybe Texans simply will not put up with the Stalinist erasure of important people from their history. Yeah, probably that.
Jeff Davis aside, the county named after him looks to be as bleak as the surface of the moon. Texans, before you get your chaps in a wad, let me HASTEN to assure you that I love Texas. It held a mythic place in my childhood because of all the Westerns we kids of the 50s were raised on. (Never mind that many of those shows were shot in Arizona or on the backlots of studios in California. If they told me it was Texas, Texas it was.) If Arizona ever goes blue – though one could argue that with McCain and Flake as our Senators, it already has — I will move to Texas.
But COME ON!! The part of West Texas I noticed shortly after the Jeff Davis County sign had no recognizable (to me) plants, trees, shrubs, or anything that could possibly sustain life. Not even cactus! There were rocks and some of the rocks seemed to have made a concerted effort to form some sort of “buttes.”
Now I’m a small-town Midwestern “town” kid, not even a farm kid. I recognize farming land, including several major crops. Corn, oats and wheat primarily, as well as cotton and mature flax which looks very pretty waving gently in the breeze. I sometimes pretend to recognize alfalfa and soybeans, but I wouldn’t bet any ranch on it…, and I can point out many of your major farm animals, mostly because my baby brother had a Fisher-Price Farm as a toddler. This was not farm land.
If you (correctly) think I have a limited knowledge of farming, wait till you see how little I know about ranching! I do know that the Cartwrights spent most of their time out mending fences, when they weren’t fighting townies resentful of their wealth, or courting women who were doomed to die by the end of the hour’s episode. Even as a young romantic teenager, when I saw a pretty girl look interested in Little Joe or Adam, I would yell “NO! RUN!” at the television. We all do what we can. My dear late Mother used to pray for characters in the girlie-girl romance novels she read.
Anyway, I saw no fences in this part of Texas, but it’s possible that some kind of grazing animal associated with ranching was wandering around in the buttes, possibly snacking on the smaller rocks.
And it really made me wonder about either the True Grit or the heat-induced delirium of the first settlers to this part of Texas.
“Okay, kids, your Mother says she cannot stand one more mile in the covered wagon, so here we shall settle. Look! There’s a butte, which I shall call Johnson Butte after Grandpa Ishmael Johnson. Upon this butte, we will raise this family. Kids, in a few minutes, I’m going to go back 100 miles for some water, but while I’m gone, gather all the coyote scat you can find with which to build our first hut.
“Girls, see if you can’t make some kind of jewelry out of the pebbles to sell to passing tourists; boys, help your mother run after some tumbleweeds – see her way off yonder? – to make a fire for her famous Armadillo and Gila Monster Stew. Little Ishmael, no one cares that you are a vegan. It’s Armadillo or nothing, mister, unless there are still some Kale Chips in the bottom of the wagon. Some day, eating Paleo will be very cool and only pretentious lunatics, who have had their taste buds surgically removed, will eat kale.
“Kids, this may not look like much now, but in about 150 years, there will be a sign, ‘Rest Stop – Vending Machines, no Restrooms’.”
And so it came to pass that such a sign did appear, and people came from miles around for the Vending Machines. But they remembered to use the toilet before they left home.
And while we are on the subject of True Grit, I want to thank ALL OF YOU for your various prayers, good vibes, and general warm wishes for my father’s healing. Happy to inform you that Daddy is working his rehab religiously – if, by religiously you mean invoking the Lord’s name occasionally during obnoxious exercises — and recovering nicely. He will be going back to his Assisted Living unit in the next day or two.
And by this time next week – God willing – I will be back in my beloved Arizona, possibly taking the northern route on I-40 as a severe change of pace. Though not at all to avoid West Texas, as I am a yuge fan of Vending Machines. Plus, the Fort Worth Renaissance is a favorite hotel with some of my favorite people nearby, one of whom is a true Texas gentleman who would never let a weary lady grab a check! So, it’s entirely possible that I will take the same old route where I know every hotel, restaurant, and pothole all the way. We’ll see.
I also would like to thank the several dozen helpful men who told me in last week’s comments to look on the inside of my car door for the specs on my tire size, or, failing that helpful hint, to take a picture of the tire with my cellphone and big it up enough at the dealer’s that they can use that data. With the relentless repetitiveness of the advice, it will be a cold day in West Texas before I ever forget it again, fellas. Though lying on the pavement had its charms.