The next leg of our trip pointed us straight North. It was my intention to visit the Midland- Odessa area, but the hotels were very expensive. Midland is a famous oil industry town, and the place where George Bush senior had his business and George Jr, grew up. We found Andrews, Texas just thirty miles north of Midland with hotels from the same chain for one-third the price. We drove the extra thirty miles.
The population in Andrews is around sixteen thousand souls, but I couldn’t figure where in the world they lived. As is my habit, before we checked in, I drove down main street to search out an eating place. The town was very short and not very wide. Where are these people? I did spot a place called Joe’s Italian Restaurant and decided to come back there for the evening meal.
Aside from a myriad of Mexican fast food stands, Joe’s appeared the finest restaurant we could find. I made reservations for dinner from the hotel. It turned out that Joe’s is a family restaurant with formica topped tables, vinyl covered booth seats, and a tile floor. It was large inside, and could easily seat a hundred people, but there were only a dozen people inside seated. Several large fans moved air around to cool us off. It was a hundred degrees outside, and eighty inside. We seated ourselves and ordered lasagna, and drinks. I asked the waitress if they served anything stronger than Pepsi, she looked at me questioningly. “Like wine or beer?”
“Oh no,” she laughed.
“Sir, this is a dry county.”
“Oh my, do you mean I have to drive thirty miles back to Midland to get a drink?”
“I guess I’ll have a diet Pepsi.”
While waiting for the meal to arrive, Peggy and I played swat the fly. The place was buzzing with flies, that had a mean disposition.
The waitress bought our meals on a tray. She used serving gloves to place the dishes in front of us.
“Be careful these plates are hot,” she warned.
We proceeded with caution to cut into the lasagna. I forked a piece and blew on it vigorously to cool it off. Finally, I built enough nerve to test it on my tongue. There is nothing worse than a burned tongue. It was surprisingly cool.
The plate was sizzling, the cheese on top melted and drippy hot, but the interior was cool. I kept eating. I wasn’t going to send it back after driving without eating all day.
The following morning on our way out of Andrews we found a neighborhood where people actually lived. In just a few minutes the town disappeared into the West Texas landscape. The land is flat and void of vegetation, and the Midland-Odessa skyline is visible from thirty miles away. Nearly every farmer leases his land to an oil company, and oil is being pumped into field-storage tanks. The cartoon in the preceding post shows a West Texas pickup truck. No kidding, there were dozens of semi-tankers emptying the field storage tanks as we drove through on a Monday morning.
The next leg of the journey took us across the border into New Mexico. I thought Texas had a lot of oil, but the real action is going on in eastern New Mexico. There are easily three times as many wells in New Mexico as there are in Texas. Less than an hour into NM we passed through a refinery. Yes, the road passed right through the darn thing. I had visions of the Union 76 refinery in the town of Lemont near our home that just happens to blow up every ten years or so. I pressed hard on the throttle to get the heck out of there. It would be just my luck that a once in a lifetime explosion happens as we drive through.
The journey continues westward to Alamagordo.
- Midland-Odessa oil boom strains housing, schools (alpinedailyplanet.typepad.com)
- UPDATE: More details on Alpine woman arrested in Midland cyclist’s death (alpinedailyplanet.typepad.com)