January 6 – January 8, 2017
Hello from Midland, Texas. I know many of you don’t know where Midland is, until three years ago, I didn’t either. But it’s in West Texas, near Odessa. This Friday Night Lights—Odessa is the city about whom that book, movie and television series was written. This is big football country, 11 man and 6 man squads, so it was a surprise to learn about the local minor league baseball team.
Anyway, Michael picked us up and brought us to his apartment. It’s cold here—19 degrees when we emerged, but the apartment is warm, and there is a big chair for us to snuggle on. We learned that our host came to admire the Red Sox in 1967 when he moved to Maine for college. Apparently he was converted from a Senators fan, and says he never really rooted for the Yankees. This is good.
Midland is the home of the Midland Rockhounds. Rockhounds is a nickname for geologists of which there are many here. This is oil country, and we’ve seen derricks and pumpers, and storage tanks. But we digress. The Rockhounds are an Oakland affiliate, Double A, in the Texas League. They are also the Texas League Champions for the 2014, 2015, and 2016 seasons. Quite an achievement, especially when you figure it’s a split league, and a split schedule, and in none of those seasons were they the winners of the first part of the season.
We had bar-b-que to warm us up. You can see the goodies. The beer (not that Molly and Wally imbibed) is locally brewed, which really wasn’t much of a surprise. But the wine bottle you can see is from one of the many Texas vineyards. That was a surprise to learn.
A nice comfy bed, and off to sleep.
We began the day well, going to visit a friend with some wonderful dogs—Buddy and Harley. We helped take down some Christmas decorations, while having tea and enjoying the warmth of the house. Yes it is still cold –25 today.
We are going to be going out to look at oil fields, and some desert this afternoon.
Well, today was quite a day. We slept in for a little bit, but there was much to do, and miles to travel before the day would be over. Remember how cold it was Friday (25 or so for those who forgot)? Today it got to 61, and it is expected to be in the 70s on Monday. Winter in Midland, Texas is not a long season, apparently, although further north it stays longer.
Molly and Wally wanted to go to San Antonio and see the Alamo, but that is like 5 ½ hours one way from here, so such a trip was a non-starter. It wasn’t just sit around the homestead or deal with Christmas decorations though. Instead, there was a trip to see Stonehenge, and some strange animals called Jack-a-lopes. Yes, you would think Stonehenge was further than the Alamo, but it really was just about 20 minutes down the road. And you should see how fast these Texas drivers go, really.
We got photos of some of the outdoor sculpture on the campus of University of Texas at the Permian Basin, including the reproduction of Stonehenge. The Jackalopes are said to be mythical, but statues of them are everywhere, the minor league hockey team in Odessa is named after them . . . . .
Yes, ice hockey, in Odessa, TX, and the teams really play a good game. Although I’ve not seen any stars come from here yet, there is always a chance. There is also a minor league soccer franchise in Midland, along with the baseball playing Rockhounds of course. For anyone who does not like such sports, there is high school football, basketball and volleyball dominating the newspapers on a regular basis.
We visited Church in the morning, met some of our host’s friends. Then it was off on a trip in a different car from yesterday. Judy went with us, and we visited Odessa, Stonehenge, the Rockhounds’ field, and then made it over to Abilene for a stop at the zoo. Some of you may know the song “Abilene, my Abilene” but that wasn’t written about Abilene, Texas, rather it was written for Abilene, KS, which we won’t have time to visit.
Everyone is home now, snuggled in, some hot cocoa, and stories of when our host lived in Maine and used to be able to just drive down to Boston – even on opening day—and walk up to the box office and buy tickets for a game. He and Bill Lee have golfed together (in a fund raising tournament), he met the great George Scott, Jim Rice, and several other members of teams from the 70s and early 80s. He seemed wistful that current stars were primarily seen on rehab assignments with the Portland Seadogs (hmmmm, moved from a city with Seadogs as a team to one with Rockhounds).
Click on any picture to open slideshow w/full sized images