Monday, 18 July 2011

The Texas Panhandle - Day 1

Late last week a friend and fellow geocacher asked if I would be interested in going on a road trip to find a geocache in every county in the Texas Panhandle. Since I hadn't been in that area since I began geocaching I jumped at the chance. There is a challenge cache to find a cache in every county in Texas, while that is no small feat, I think I can do it in chunks like the trip we took this weekend. We saw a lot of interesting things and a lot of absolute empty hills and plains. the weather was hot but not unbearably so. Amarillo stands out of all the towns we visited with its many parks and long history. We also saw a lot of historic Route 66 along the way which was fun.

After leaving Midland, TX and heading north we drove until we reached Lamesa. There wasn't a whole lot to see there except an old drive in movie theater. For some reason the sign struck me as funny because it proclaims in neon that the films will be "in color." I suppose that back in the day that was an important feature. After that we made a quick detour to the east so I could grab a cache in neighboring Borden county.

We arrived in Plainview, Texas and struck out on the first cache we looked for so we went after another one called Downtown (in plain view). The cache is pretty standard but the location is interesting as it is a diner used in the film Leap of Faith from 1992 starring Steve Martin. There is a mural for the fictional restaurant on the side of the building, and the town's water tower still bears the mascot and name Rustwater, Kansas even though Plainview is very much in Texas.

Our next major stop was in Briscoe County (Jr. - sorry I feel compelled to do that every time. Bruce Campbell rocks!). There is a historic jail on the corner of the court house lawn and as we were extracting the geocache there a man drove up asking if we wanted to see the jail. It took a second to realize he was actually a caretaker offering to open the small museum just for us! He was a very friendly guy, maybe slightly too much so but he said he had been running the museum for years since the judge noticed people were interested in seeing inside. It was beginning to get dark and he told us that the bats would soon be coming out of all the bat houses on the side of the building so we made our exit after thanking him for the improvised tour. As we were leaving he gave us a pamphlet of panhandle museums and attractions featuring none other than himself as the guide for the museum.

The last stop of the day was a virtual cache just outside of Amarillo known as "The Feet of Ozymandius." Ozymandius, aside from a kick ass villain in the graphic novel Watchmen, was another name for Ramesses the Great. Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote a poem about him in 1818:

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: `Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear --
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.'
The virtual cache brings you to what appears to be a shattered statue with only the feet remaining. A plaque says that the statue was destroyed by Lubbock football players after a loss to Amarillo, but the truth is that the statue was commissioned by Stanley Marsh 3. That's the same guy who created the Cadillac Ranch which we would visit the next day.

The we crashed at a KOA, choosing not to worry about tents with the cool weather that night. Plus we may be a little lazy.