Thursday, March 20, 2008

West Texas Windmills

Driving west from Austin to Fort Stockton, as you leave the Hill Country behind, the land gradually flattens out, and the Oak and Juniper get shorter and sparser until you're driving in a very straight line for a very long time.

Years ago, the drive took an eternity, but the speed limit then was 55 and now it is 80. You can cover a lot of ground in remarkably little time at 80 miles per hour. Objects in the side view mirror get smaller even faster than they normally do. The arid scrub and the flat-topped mesas go screaming by.

And then you come to this place, out in the middle of nowhere, where there used to be only more scrub and only more mesas. You come to this place and you think you've passed into a science fiction movie.

For here on the flat mesa-tops, lined up in rows, extending as far as you can see, are windmills. Not Aermotors pumping water into cisterns. No. These are brand new and as tall as skyscrapers, shining white in the sun, topped with immense three-bladed propellers, each the length of an oversized semi-truck.

One after another, shoulder to shoulder, they stand at the cliff edges capturing the wind, turning in synchrony. One after another, shoulder to shoulder, as far as you can see, marching into the distance until you lose sight of the propellers and the towers are but small spikes on the tops of distant hills.

On the way to Big Bend.

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