Thursday, October 23, 2008

Road trip to Texas: Day 6

We arrived at our western-most terminus of this trip today--El Paso, Texas--and had dinner with our sons Chris and Jeff, our daughter Gayle, our daughter-in-law Celina, and Chris and Celina's three kids: Christopher, Trinity and Troy.

The trip bore some interesting tidbits:
  • Passing through Trent, Texas, we noticed a nicely appointed football stadium (not unusual in Texas by any means) and did a double take at the mascot, a gorilla. That is pretty unusual, in my book, as I don't recall ever hearing of another team nicknamed the Gorillas. My first thought was this is a team that must have shed a politically incorrect name, like the Indians, Redskins, Chiefs, etc., in favor of something less offensive, but my research indicates that this has been a longstanding moniker. It's a town of 318 people with a school population of just under 200. (A lot of the kids come from the neighboring farms in the county.) They play 6-man football, fielded from a squad of 12.

  • In the same area along Interstate 20 is the town of Sweetwater, which has become the center of Texas' renewable energy industry. Mary and I measured nearly 40 miles of windmills on both sides of the freeway. Forty miles! There were literally thousands of units, a large part of the 4,300 megawatts of wind energy currently installed in Texas. An additional 17,000 megawatts worth of projects have been identified and will be developed as transmission lines become available in the wind rich areas. Of course, this is Texas, and in the foreground against all of those windmills are pumping units extracting oil from the Permian Basin. All energy, all the time. Check out this 20-second video that I shot a couple of years ago:

  • Another interesting aspect of this cross-Texas trip is the 80 mph speed limit west of Midland. The 300 miles from Midland to El Paso go pretty fast at 85. (Hey, it's less than 10% above the limit.) By the way, the car is still doing fine. The poll today sits at 10 votes in favor of the car making the trip without a breakdown, and none who have predicted a failure.

Pictured above: Chris and Celina; Nana Mary and Troy; Trinity and Chris; Gayle and her wonder dog, Nikki.

I added a few pictures to yesterday's post, as promised, showing a few of Ft. Worth Stockyards highlights and one of Mary and Bryan.

Check back tomorrow...


  1. Back in my student days I worked on some Permian Basin siltstones. My field area was just outside Guadalupe Mtns. National Park.

    I wonder if Griggs Mexican restaurant still exists, near El Paso's airport? It was a favorite stop.

  2. Sandy Shoes, you'd be interested to know that the Permian Basin is back in full swing, due to the sharply increased price for oil. Mary and I watched a TV series called "Black Gold" that followed three drilling teams outside of Odessa through their trials and tribulations. We found it quite intriguing and a decent primer for those who have no idea about what it takes to "drill, drill, drill." Not so simple as it sounds.

    Regarding Griggs, if it's still around, the location you referred to would be the only one left. They closed their Upper Valley and Westside locations. I'll check it out. We always enjoyed their food.

    I read your profile and see you're no longer in the geology field but rather, as your screen name implies, are enjoying the sandy shores of Cape Cod. Though I was born in El Paso, I have found a wonderful corner of this earth in Sandwich, MA and truly love being there (even in the cold weather).


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