Traveling Cross Country, Smells and High Speed Chases
On our trip out west we had just cleared downtown Amarillo TX on I-40. We needed some gas and wanted to fix our lunch. It seems we were always “topping off”. Unlike the east coast, in some areas we would travel miles and miles without seeing a gas station or restroom (how did the early settlers do it?) so we ended up filling the tank before getting too far from populated areas. I fueled while Jenni made a restroom run; then we switched and she fixed sandwiches while I went inside.
At this particular pit stop as she came back to the car she seemed to think I had just passed gas. That may have been true but it’s not the kind of thing you confess at a busy gas station. When I returned, I wondered if someone in the car next to us had eaten a bad breakfast burrito but said nothing. Jenni was driving as we merged back onto the interstate. But she was gagging. She asked me to check my shoes in case I had stepped into the “nasty”. My shoes were fine. Even showing them to her I’m not sure she believed me. Then she started wondering if SHE had stepped in something. She became frantic. Pulling her shoes off while driving, they passed inspection but the awful smell persisted. Putting the windows down only made it circulate more. Had one of us brushed up against “something”? Finally she pulled off the road. We both hopped out and inspected each other as well as our wheel wells. What had happened??? No idea, no explanation. We pulled back on the interstate and it only got worse. Then we saw something in the distance. At first we thought it was a vast field of solar panels. But then the solar panels moved. We realized it was the largest FEEDLOT we had ever seen. There were THOUSANDS of cattle in the muck! Their smell had announced them a full five miles earlier! Once we passed the feedlot the air quality improved drastically.
On our return trip via I-10 we noticed a similar smell in New Mexico. The smell was purely coincidental, but she wasn’t going to pin the stench on me! Here it was enormous dairies stocked with Holstein cows. We learned later that as land prices surged in California, the dairies moved to New Mexico. We decided these couldn’t be very happy cows because all they could do was stand in muck and eat grain and hay and produce milk. There was no such thing as grazing in a pasture.
On the final leg of our journey we spent some time on ranches in South Texas. One afternoon the two of us drove the ATV down to a creek. (I use the term creek lightly as it was a sandy bottomed gully that had about 10 gallons of water in a pool surrounded by wild hog footprints.) As we cranked up the ATV and drove away we glanced down a sendero (a straight, wide path cut through underbrush) and saw a handful of cows galloping toward us. They knew the ATV typically brought food! Wishing to avoid them we turned up another path only to be flushed out into an open field where the rest of the herd was prepared to give chase! I considered the cows to be cunning creatures at that point, intent on inspecting the sacks in the back of our vehicle. I had a chance to photograph an armadillo that was five feet away in a brush pile but Jenni was yelling “Drive! Drive!” (She had already heard about the big bull playing chicken with the ATV.) We made it back to the safety of the fenced in yard, giving Jenni a full ten seconds lead to get the gate open! She will tell you she is a city girl and not cut out for the smells and adventures we encountered. And I’ve obviously grown soft!
Check back later for more adventures.