Monday, March 2, 2015

Roots from the air

I love to fly, as evidenced by the more than occasional image of such on my Facebook page, this blog and elsewhere. And when the light and conditions are right, I also enjoy snapping pictures from inside the cockpit.

Now, if I was a real aerial photographer, I would be flying with the doors off and maybe have a co-pilot so I could use my fancy digital Canon SLR and maybe a few different cool lenses. But instead, I enjoy documenting the trip or experience from altitudes ranging from a thousand or so feet MSL (that's flyboy speak for how high you are, barometrically, from sea level) on upwards to just under 10,000' MSL.

On a recent trip back to Lubbock to see my folks, my return flight the next day was mid-afternoon and I had a great tailwind plus some great light to work with. The near-thirty knot tailwind helped shave off about twenty to thirty minutes of actual flying time, and the near perfect light conditions helped me get some neat shots of the West Texas landscape between Lubbock and the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

This is about forty or so nautical miles due east of Lubbock. You can see the flat, manicured fields at the top of the photo and just how quickly the land can suddenly contrast with itself. The weather can also change just that quickly as well.

 I'm still undecided on wind energy for individuals as it seems extremely cost-prohibitive for most of us commoners. But for the large energy companies, something must be there because I'm seeing a lot more wind farms popping up between Fort Worth, the Red River and westward all the way out to Big Spring, the Permian Basin and off the Caprock east of Lubbock. Of course, there is no shortage of wind out there, either.

I did some oil patch work, briefly, one summer when I was in college at Texas Tech. You know what was fun about it? Nothing. Hard, dangerous, muscle-numbing work. In the picture below, if one didn't know better, you'd think you were seeing a new housing development what with all the nice little roads and plots you see. Instead, those are what we called pump jacks, and each one is pumping West Texas crude up from the ground.

Here's a bit closer look at the layout of this particular oil field. I saw at least a dozen of these just in the two hours it took me to fly from Lubbock to Fort Worth. Someone up in Washington needs to tell OPEC to kiss our Lone Star ass.

This is pretty rugged country. I've seen an awful lot of it from the back of a quarter horse--which in most areas, is the only way you can see much of it. Yet, it has its own unique and inherent beauty and truly epitomizes West Texas.

More contrasting landscapes. Lot of salt flats where the small creeks and rivers run.

I actually circled the plane around this particular landscape to get this shot. It's a good illustration of how nature works via heavy rainfall and rapid runoff. The result is controlled erosion and ever-deepening canyons on the low end with pretty fair grazing land on the high end.

Water always takes the path of least resistance, yet still maintains its erosive effect. In another million years, there will be a couple of oxbow lakes down below.

West Texas gets very little respect from Austin or Dallas/Fort Worth or Houston. But I guess city-bred folks have always looked at country-bred folks that way. It used to bother me, especially when I got back from the military and was going to college. Now over three decades later, I'm not bothered in the least. I know where my roots are.

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