Sunday, 18 May 2014

Day 13: Artesia NM, Wichita Falls TX 402miles/648km

After the exhilarating day seeing White Sands and the caverns it was lovely to relax at the Heritage Inn at Artesia. Yes, it is named for the artesian aquifer discovered last century.

This sculpture is dedicated to the pioneer women of the area and is based on photographs of Sallie Chisholm. She discovered the artesian aquifer when she dug a bore hole on her homestead.

Billy the Kid gets a mention here, too.
Pioneer horsemen are honoured with a sculpture, too - Vaqueros .

We turned right outside the hotel to go to the gas station. There it was, one block away with an oil refinery over the road. I wonder if they get direct supply? The Navajo refinery is the largest refinery in New Mexico.

Very soon we see and smell the source of raw materials for the refinery.

First a single oil pump jack and then...

...pump jacks as far as the eye can see. The smell is like sulphur acted heated bitumen. Rotorua crossed with road tar sealing mix.
We rode through more than fifty miles of a landscape with pump jacks, electrical power lines, side roads and many trucks on the road and sometimes suddenly turning off onto a side road.

We cross the border and stop at Seminole for a break. There are children all around us. I am soon talking with a mother and she explains it is play day. It is near the end of the school year children are having a play day. They are around 9-10 years old and are brimming with good health.

This town has a prosperous air linked to agriculture, cropping and oil. New building projects are underway. There is a splendid new high school building.

As we leave town we see many new storage barns. Some are for peanuts.

Huge pivot irrigation systems dotted the landscape along with oil pump jacks which share the fields.

Next stop is for lunch at the friendliest McDonalds we have encountered so far in Brownfields. Take a how gentlemen. It was a good chicken salad, too. The free wifi is an added bonus.
Beyond Brownfields we ride through many miles of cropping land.
Sometimes we see fruit trees or in this case grapevines. Much of the ground has been ploughed and some is irrigated. There is a severe drought in this region so some crops look very thirsty.
We saw fenced cattle farmland, too.The drought has badly affected beef farming this year.

The amalgamation of farm lots into huge unfenced fields reminded us of the West Australia wheat belt.

We saw obsolete farm implements lined up along the roadside.

Small towns along the way often looked deserted.

Churches are commonplace throughout the area we rode through. This one is at the front of a large agricultural equipment store.

We rode into Haskell and decided to take a break...
...what a treat to meet Betty...
...and Ada who have been friends all their lives. Ada's granddaughter is coming to visit NZ later this year. We hope she gets as friendly a welcome as we did today. Two gems.


It was 104.5degF when we hopped back onto the bike. 40.5degC. Dry heat though.
We followed the road to Wichita Falls and found a warm welcome at the Holiday Inn.
Just as we arrived a family and 4H leader from Aspermont arrived. I had noticed their Hornets mascot on the water tower as we rode through couple of hours earlier. They were here for a shooting competition. What a lovely family.
To end the day we dined at McBrides steak house.
Mary took care of us.
All will be well.
Our shared starter is an onion flower.
One (huge)onion; cut with a special cutter that separates the layers and cuts the onion into 'petals'; then dipped into a egg/milk wash; then crumbed. The whole onion is deep fried and served with mayonnaise on a small dinner plate.
Followed by ribeye with a side of quail and vegetables and mushrooms...
And a long sleep.

We have crossed the southern end of the Texas Panhandle today.


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