Wednesday, April 22, 2009

On the Road to Conestoga (Day One)

This year has been travel-light, so it was very welcome to get on the road this morning. I didn't even wait for breakfast, just stopping at the Hutto Donut shop to grab something on the way out. And because I allocated an extra day for the travel, I could take my time. I didn't choose the Interstate, instead I wandered the small two-lane roads winding back and forth, generally north, but taking turns and shifting highways on a whim. I visited the storm-damaged Mother Neff State Park and stopped to see what was there at Meridian State Park. I didn't really accomplish anything other than chat about my books with the lady ranger at MSP, but that's okay. I'll be visiting book stores this trip, but the only time today I actively hunted for them, I chased a lot of dead ends in Temple.

I was just enjoying the scenery and feeling the freedom of the road. Once I crossed the Red River into Oklahoma, the wandering was a little different. The Texas Hill Country was far behind and I was dealing with flat terrain. I stopped at a park in Comanche, and took a look at my iPhone's map. One of my favorite spots was up ahead and to the left, Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge. I tried to navigate by bearing to the northwest, but there was really no highway to follow. Instead, once I got close enough to see the mountains in the distance, I was driving the dirt section roads, getting closer by the mile. (A section is one square mile, 640 acres, and around here, the roads made a gridwork of one mile squares, with farmland inside.)

Eventually, I crossed highway 62 and entered the parkland. And it does feel more like a park than most NWR's. The visitor center was large and fancy, but I headed for Mt. Scott, where I took the picture above, and lots of others. I've been here a couple of times before, so the only difference was the wind power farm off to the north. It's a lovely place to look around, especially in a place where most land is flat.

I stopped for the day early, finding the lone motel in Apache and began to catch up on my email/twitter/RSS reading etc. Once I finish this blog, it's off to sleep.

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