Sunday, October 26, 2014

Summer in Oklahoma: No Man's Land

I have come aground again in one of the Midwest's more curious zipcodes, Texas County, Oklahoma, midway between Goodwell and Texhoma in the panhandle, a mere tenth of a mile from the former Confederate state of Texas where the heady smell of hog barns braces the air. Goodwell is home to both Oklahoma Panhandle State University and the No Man's Land Museum, the latter of which I have seen no reason to visit. Less than a mile up the road from where I'm camped lives a fellow who's in the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame for bareback bronc riding.

What the landscape lacks by way of trees it compensates for in regularly spaced pods of eight or ten turbines cranking electricity into Texas's open-competition energy market - cowboy wind farms selling to the highest bidder. I can see them in clumps off to the the east and south from the farmyard where I'm camped.

Sunrise on the Oklahoma-Texas line

Strictly speaking it isn't summer here any longer, but the daily temperatures are in the upper 80s and low 90s, so it feels like summer could last all through December, even though I know what's coming. To get groceries, I have to drive 16 miles to Guymon. The trip takes me through Goodwell, six miles away, where the local police camp out in eight-hour shifts in the town's picnic area along US 54, which runs on into Liberal, Kansas. As the sole commercial endeavor in Goodwell, so far as I can make out, is a solitary convenience store/gas station which sells no donuts or similar baked goods, I surmise that Goodwell is a hardship posting for the freshly minted graduates of institutes of criminal justice. There is perverse pleasure in the thought that (considering the immobility of a parked car, the bleak landscape out the windshield, the complete absence of life about the place) working for the gendarmerie in Goodwell must be one of the most boring occupations on the planet. The photo files of Goodwell provided by Google's mapping service show this very park complete  with cop cars.

Park with cops, Goodwell, OK, from Google Maps

I've made myself as self-sufficient as I can out here in my private RV park behind the wind project's field office. I've done the wind farm one better, as you can see, by installing a solar emplacement on a modest scale to charge my auxiliary batteries and heat my solar-powered shower facility.

There's a farmhouse along the road with a kitchen, bathrooms and several bedrooms, but until the weather turns I prefer the fresh air, the coyotes and owls at night, and sunrise through the plastic sidecurtains. The sandhill cranes are still flying over on their way to the Gulf of Mexico and the Bosque del Apache for the winter. Right now there's a scaled quail rasping away atop a fencepost along the driveway. I reckon the winter will drive me at last into the farmhouse, but for now, Oklahoma is, as the state's license plate used to say, OK.

I figure I won't venture into the barn. I know it's full of pigeons in the rafters, and I'm betting (this being the Rattlesnake Belt) that it's full of snakes too. But everybody has to live somewhere, and it's usually easier to mind your own business.