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Texas Panhandle

October 20, 2013

Texas – Sunday, October 13

I ended up in Abilene last night, which is ranch country. My goal for today was to get my walking done while dodging raindrops, and to get up to Lubbock where I’d be meeting Maxine, who was going to take care of my last Texas donation. I knew lots of Texas was getting some heavy rain, and I found out later that Austin, which I’d just left last night, would get a whopping 12 inches of rain today, causing a lot of problems and closing down the last day of the big music festival. The panhandle area seemed to be the only part of Texas not being hit with a deluge, although skies were gray. So I was feeling pretty lucky!

Before the town of Abilene was established, this was buffalo country – wide open spaces, flat and grassy. Early ranchers soon started replacing buffalo with cattle, then several railroads came to town, and Abilene became a major cattle shipping town. And livestock is still big business, although the oil wells are still around too. The actual town didn’t look all that interesting to walk through, so I found a park on the outside of town that had a small lake, ball fields (full of noisy young teams of kids playing baseball!) and walking/jogging trails. Tula and I walked over 2 1/2 miles there, and then I drove over to the other side of town. On the way, I passed a farm with about 20 white horses in a pasture. I’ve seen lots of horses on my journey, but I’ve never seen so many white horses in one place. It’s very eye-catching, and it reminded me of an albino filly that my old broodmare had years and years ago. I think those white horses are used in parades. I found Red Bud Park on the other side of town, and that one had even more miles of trails. There was also a prairie dog town, and there were lots of tubby little prairie dogs scurrying around, and eating all kinds of fruits and veggies that someone had put in their space. A low wall enclosed the “town” and Tula knew something was on the other side of the wall, but she couldn’t quite see over the top! We walked almost 2 1/2 more miles in that park.

Then I backtracked 8-10 miles to go visit Buffalo Gap Historic Village, which was a collection of buildings from the turn of the last century. Dogs were allowed on this property – even in the buildings, which is kind of unusual. The buildings were all from West Texas, and had been moved to Buffalo Gap complete with all their furnishings. It was a really interesting visit. The courthouse originally had a noose hanging from the top of the stairs (which was one of the few things that was no longer there), and there was an old jail cell on the second floor. There was a spur display and a barbed wire display, and the old schoolroom had a school bell display. The playground had some old-time playground toys, and the print shop had an original Heidelburg press. I especially liked the old bank building (I was able to walk behind the teller’s “cage”, and the old gas station – I finally understand how those old pumps work! After a peek inside the old chapel, I was ready to drive north. There were some really old buildings even outside the historic village too.

As I headed north through the panhandle, I saw lots of red dirt fields, and hundreds of wind turbines. There were cattle ranches and cotton fields, and everything seemed to stretch endlessly to the horizon. After a while I came to the town of Sweetwater, and since it looked like it was going to rain soon, I wanted to get a little more walking in while I could. But we were only able to cover about a mile in the very quiet town before the rain started coming down pretty hard. We got a little wet! Then I drove for a couple more hours in the rain up to the town of Lubbock.

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