Regular Life

Regular Life

In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on. – Robert Frost

Hard Wood Hole

I’m still incredulous that in our first two years in Texas, nobody had told us about this place. Standing there looking at it, I wanted to hike down with just my camera and a couple bottles of water. The next time I’m there, that’s exactly what I’ll do.

A little side trip on the way home from New Mexico, Palo Duro Canyon was touted as the nation’s second-largest. That’s a little misleading, because neither its depth nor its breadth took my breath. It was my fault for imagining Grand Canyon Lite. Like its larger cousin, however, it featured rich colors that span the eons.

This was a scouting trip, and it warranted a return. The most distinctive feature of the canyon, Lighthouse Rock, juts higher than 300 feet into the air. Sadly for us, it’s a 3-mile hike one way and we didn’t have time for it.

Next time.

At one of the many tiny towns were traversed on our trek home, a vintage Mobil gas station caught my eye. As I snapped pictures of it, a rusted Chevrolet Caprice Classic skidded to a gravelly stop nearby. A man, mid-thirties with long, greasy, dark brown hair jumped up from the driver’s seat and yelled to me over the top of the car.

“Looks pretty good, huh?”

“Yeah, it’s cool,” I said. I put my camera back up to my face and snapped another frame.

“I painted it myself. I’m not finished yet. They’re in my way still with the sidewalk work.”

“Well, it looks great so far,” I said.

“Do you have a pen or something so I can write down my name and number? You got any painting needs done?”

“Well, actually, we’re headed home to the Dallas area. Just passing through.”

“Oh, okay.” He got back behind the wheel and shut his door, then drove away kicking up the same gravel he’d pushed into a pile when he stopped.

“Weird,” I muttered, thinking maybe it was time to get back into the minivan with Shannon and Ben.

The rest of the trip was uneventful, just the way we like it.

Thanks, everybody, for following along.

7 Responses to Hard Wood Hole

  1. Kick$ass pictures. Probably some of the best of the trip!

    Mark…there is NO WAY I could have let that go. Of course she didn’t want the food going back to the room…the dogs come in there and clean the breakfast area floor when you leave so that they don’t have to vacuum! That was all a front. “Did she have her dogs in here?” “Riiiiiight…don’t play dumb with me breakfast Nazi. I see your tactics.”

    “I’m sorry sir, we don’t allow guests to take food back to the room…that can get messy.”

    “Oh…well don’t worry about that, it’s already messy…we have our 4 year old with us and he loves those multi-colored Goldfish snacks…awfully crumbly though. We brought in our own food from the outside world…a world away from Breakfast Nazis. Kinda like those hotels who have ROOM SERVICE, where people eat food in the rooms for convenience. We’ll just eat that instead…unless you want to come on up and confiscate that too? Keep this coffee too (as I reach out to hand it to her), because we’ll just make some in our room instead…it’ll be fresher and hotter that way. The rooms have spill-proof cups right….not like the ones down here?”

    “By the way, is that a corporate rule, or did you just come up with that one on your own, because I’ve NEVER heard of anything like that before? Who do we need to call to verify that?”

    I’m disappointed that you let that go. You had to have been really groggy or something. Maybe the next post will be your recap of what REALLY happened. Tell me you at least left a note pinned to a danish with the hotel provided pen, addressed to the “Continental Breakfast Nazi.”

    I’m still stunned that she said that. Stunned I tell you.

  2. Beautiful pics Mark….

    Have you ever seen the Grand Canyon?

    I’ve been there a few times.. and it’s breathtaking.

  3. Great shots Mark, I have caught about half of your trip posts and hope to get back to the rest soon. I have heard of this area too but have never been there. It is beautiful. Maybe a spring road trip is in order!

    I love the gas station shot and the story. Isn’t it funny how you run into the people along the way that are passionate about doing restorations like this. They love to talk about them.

    Take care and I am glad you had a good trip.

  4. Are you getting any kickbacks from Autostitch? Because you really should be.

    That first shot – especially the embiggened version – really makes a guy want to hike down there and get lost for a long while. The colour of the rocks contrasting with the wild flora is almost hyp-mo-tizing. Some of the layers of earth and rock you can see look like they were pencilled in with a ruler, they’re so uniform. That’s just fascinating to me.

    Too bad you didn’t also get a shot of the greasy guy who skidded up in the Caprice. Fun vacation, Mark. Thanks for sharing.

    PS — I think your brother is stunned.

  5. I’d have had a hard time driving away from that canyon without exploring it, too. Truly beautiful scenery. An dyou just know there are sorts of nooks and crannies down there that you’ll only be able to see up close that drive bys just can’t capture. *sigh* It’s so easy to get caught up in such daydreams when you’re sitting in a windowless office.

    Simon – You are apparently better at reading between the lines than I am…cuz I didn’t get that impression from Charles at all.

  6. You take some great images Mark. And as always, I love your writing. I am enjoying catching up…again! :) I am hoping to be more posting more regularly soon…

  7. All – “Hard Wood Hole” = Palo Duro Canyon. The Spanish translates the first two words, and I just made up the last one.

    Charles – At least in this post, I wasn’t showing something you guys missed. You probably wouldn’t have made this side trip, because it would have taken you too far south out of your way.

    Dave – I never have seen the Grand Canyon.

    Mike – Thanks! Some of your pics of old buildings inspired me to stop at that station.

    Simon – No, no kickbacks, but if anybody from Autostitch is listening, I’m open for offers!

    Moksha and Simon – We’ll all go on a hike together one of these days.

    I’m gonna go out on a limb and guess that my brother might have been a little bit looser due to alcohol consumption. He doesn’t do that much anymore, but this sounded like one of those times.

    Moksha – Watch that daydreaming! It makes millionaires out of some people, and none of us wants to see you become one of those (out of pure jealousy, of course).

    Anna – Thanks for dropping in now that you’re back on the Internet. I’ve been keeping an eye on your site, and it’s always worth turning the other toward it, too.


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