Yep, I’m in Texas

Well I am in oil country and with oil at over $100 a barrel, drilling is picking up after the slowdown due to the pandemic. Hundreds of trucks have been passing me, even on small roads. Oil rigs and drilling rigs abound. I got so fed up I left a highway and travelled for several miles on a dirt road, but that ended up in some salt ponds which made the road impassable. I had to walk my bike for a few miles over dirt and hills. It was a terrible experience. Here are some pix of the salt ponds, mostly dried up, but mushy.

To make matters worse, I’ve had a strong headwind for the past 10 days, making progress slow and painful. It’s been a tough couple weeks.

Camping has not been peaceful either. Although it’s easy to find a campsite among all the pump jacks, it’s noisy. The pumps turn on and off, and there are distant industrial noises from compressor stations or drilling rigs that operate 24 hours a day. Here is one gas compressor station that kept me up all night.

This was still in eastern New Mexico. I finally crossed into Texas on October 3.

There was one advantage to all the oilfield activity. Due to the headwind I was low on battery power one morning. I passed a work trailer which was unoccupied, but still had outlets for 120 volt power. So I plugged in, had some breakfast and charged my battery for an hour.

I often see road closed signs but being on a bike, I am able to get around them. I actually like these, because I know there won’t be any vehicles on the road.

I knew there were a lot of oil wells in west Texas, but I was amazed when I started looking at satellite images of the place on Google maps. This is an area near Midland, Texas, a big oil region. Each of those little squares is an oil well pad, about 50 x 50 yards, with a pump jack or nodding donkey on them. I camped several times near these pads. There’s nothing out there really and plenty of scrub brush so camping is a breeze.

Camping among the pump jacks.

The wind was so bad one day I had to quit early, rolling into the small village of Goldsmith. There were no hotels, just a few nasty rv camps. I desperately needed to charge my battery but it seemed hopeless. I finally went to the town hall and asked about accommodation. the lady said there was a “mancamp” a mile down the road that rents rooms by the night. So I checked it out and it was true! For $75 you get a small 100 square foot room, plus dinner and breakfast. The room only had a twin bed, small shower and a little closet but it was enough for me. There were 300 of these little rooms which are mainly for oil men who might stay for several weeks at a time. Here is a look at the hallway leading to my “room”.

More pump jacks. We are addicted to oil.

As I said, with the price of oil up, people are drilling new wells again. This is a typical drilling rig. When the well is drilled it will move off to a new location and a pump jack will be installed. It takes a month or so to drill a well.

Outside the town of Stanton I was looking for a place to camp and I came across an unlocked gate that had a sign saying “Herd dogs operating in the area.” I wasn’t sure if that was something I should be concerned about but I needed to find a spot so I went through the gate and rode a mile or so up the road. Suddenly a dog started barking. I saw a large dog running towards me with a herd of goats nearby. Obviously the herd dog was there to protect the goats from coyotes. I turned and started riding away but the dog chased me, still barking ferociously. I had a bad experience with guard dogs in Georgia several years ago so I did not want to mess with this guy. But he kept coming. Finally I stopped, got my pepper spray and picked up a few rocks. The dog stopped about 30 yards away but continued to bark. I threw a few rocks at him and slowly started walking away. The dog must have been satisfied because he did not pursue me any further. I backtracked a few hundred yards then found another unlocked gate and went through. Camping was easy then and I did not have to worry about the dog. Here is my spot that night.

That’s it for now, here is my location in San Angelo, Texas.

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