Observations from a trip to West Texas

Posted: April 24, 2022 by John Ruberry in culture, entertainment, fun
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Blogger in Marathon, Texas.

By John Ruberry

“There’s no law west of Dodge and no God west of the Pecos.”
James Pepper (Ben Johnson) in Chisum.

“The devil in hell, we’re told was chained
A thousand years he there remained
He neither complain nor did he groan
But was determined to start a hell of his own

Where he could torment the souls of men
Without being chained in a prison pen
So he asked the Lord if he had on hand
Anything left when he made this land

The Lord said yes, there’s a plenty on hand
But I left it down by the Rio Grande
The fact is ol’ boy, the stuff is so poor I don’t think you could use it as the hell anymore

But the devil went down to look at the truck
For after lookin’ that over carefully and well
He said this place is too dry for hell
But in order to get it off his hands

The Lord promised the devil to water the land
So trade was closed and deed was given
And the Lord went back to his home in heaven.”
Johnny Cash, Mean As Hell.

Earlier this month Mrs. Marathon Pundit and I spent ten days in Texas, mostly West Texas. And yes, there is law there and there is a God west of the Pecos too.

I covered my economic and political observations of our Texas trip, including what I noticed in the boom towns on the Permian Basin, Midland and Odessa, in a post at Da Tech Guy that is available here. 

Our first stop on note was on the oil producing basin, Monahans Sandhills State Park, where we found the type of dunes you’ll encounter on the Sahara. 

Our first West Texas overnight stop was west of the Pecos, in Fort Stockton, home of what was once the World’s Largest Roadrunner, Paisano Pete.

Then of course we had to visit Marathon, after all, I am the Marathon Pundit. Parts of a sadly overlooked movie, Paris, Texas, were filmed there.

Then it was on to Terlingua, a former mercury mining settlement, turned ghost town, which is now the closest thing to a tourist gateway town to our main destination, Big Bend National Park, where you will discover desert, mountains, and lots of thorns, Cash discusses “thorns” later in his spoken word Mean As Hell piece that I excerpted above.

Big Bend was our main destination for this trip, a gorgeous but little-visited national park because of its isolation. Perched on the border with Mexico on the Rio Grande, it is a seven-hour drive from Dallas and a five-hour drive from San Antonio.

To the west of the national park is Big Bend Ranch State Park, Texas’ largest state park, where we kayaked and spent our last day in the Big Bend region. It’s a beautiful park too and well worth at least a day of your time.

The biggest dud of the trip was our attempt to witness the Marfa Lights. Well, we were in Marfa, where much of the George Stevens’ classic Giant was filmed, and the lights, which some people compare to the will o’ the wisp, were not to be found, as is usually the situation every night, despite a viewing stand. Marfa is a leftist outpost where we encountered a human thorn. When picking up a pizza, Mrs. Marathon Pundit was scolded by a cashier in because she was not wearing a mask. In Texas! But my wife held her sandy ground. 

On Easter Sunday it was on to pentagon-shaped Jeff Davis County; yes, it’s named for Jefferson Davis, the president of the confederacy, where we toured historic Fort Davis, a frontier fort that seems to be a time capsule from a John Ford western movie. And we drove on the Davis Mountains Scenic Loop, among the sites of worth there is the McDonald Observatory.

On our way back to Dallas-Fort Worth, we met a Facebook friend in Sweetwater. 

The next day we were back in the Chicago area, the home of grifters, high taxes, and high crime. 

And many human thorns.

Related post:

Texas is success and Illinois is failure.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

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