Field Notes Friday 0005: Impressions of the Drive

Here’s a new way to look at road trips which I highly suggest: Impressions of the Drive. On a trip (even a flight), take a look around and note the changes you see. You’ll start to discern the hidden, underlying geology, watersheds, eco-zones, and more. Every moment can be a lesson, if you’re paying attention. This is the first time I decided to write down what I noticed, and it made a big difference in the quality of my observations.

Thanks to inspiration from The Ecology of Ignorance and a few great naturalists, I’ve started including sketches. They’ll start small, and I’ll get braver as I practice. Most skills are practice-able and improvable.

Field Notes Friday: Impressions of the Drive

Entry 002

  • continued, but refreshed
  • Friday, January 3, 2014
  • 12:30 pm (12 hours after the first entry!)
  • winds 25-35mph!
  • 54 degrees
  • Humidity 29%
  • “abundant sunshine”
  • I need to review cloud types – there’s haze to the south, fluffy high clouds on the northern horizon, a patch of cirrus to the west
  • Driving from Snyder to Inks Lake State Park

The Story of Cedar through Brooke’s eyes

As I understand it from a brief conversation yesterday: Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana) encroached upon the prairie when settlers removed native grazers, suppressed fire, and put up fencing to partition the land. As I sat on top of a 20′ storage tank looking around the 360-degree view, I asked if I’d have seen the landscape covered in cedars 300 years ago. No, was the firm & solid answer. There would have been ‘cedars,’ I think I remember – maybe in the lower areas by creeks, less fire – but not the ubiquitous puff-balls throughout the landscape. Brooke says I need to read Water from Stone, about the Bamburger Ranch. Apparently he cut the cedars and his springs started flowing again.

Impressions of the Drive

Snyder –> Inks Lake State Park

  • Just N of Snyder: sloping, hilly, carved by water into rivulets
  • Between Hermleigh & Rosco on 84. Ack the wind noise! Flat fields of cotton & windmils. They’re majestic, these windmills. Not sure what I’d be looking @, otherwise. Telephone poles, power lines… dark exposed dirt. A 1/2 cylinder storage makes the most sense of what I’ve seen, but I think in high wind a geodesic dome makes the most. SAW MY FIRST EVER TUMBLEWEED! Big as an innertube or laundry basket! rolled right across the highway, full of some sort of what detritus like plastic bags… maybe cotton
  • Sweetwater – what the heck? We’re suddenly in hilly and scalloped terrain again. We seem to be bordered on the South by the same high plains – a ‘caprock’, perhaps
  • S of Sweetwater on hwy 70. Very hilly, hills covered in green of Junipers. Hills have the familiar shape I’ve come to know in Weatherford. Plus with windmills! Exposed chalky white soil @ roads that cut through hills.
  • Junction of 70 & 153. The roar of the wind on the car window announced we were on top of the caprock again. There had been beautiful quiet in the hilly valley below.
  • Live oaks, more mesquite, dense juniper as we continue S on 153, nearing intersection of 277 (just N of 1170). Old mesquites on fence lines. Live oaks wild & by houses. More low ‘dry creek’ feeling depressions.
  • Taylor county line! (my last name)

One thought on “Field Notes Friday 0005: Impressions of the Drive

  1. Pingback: Cedar/Juniper: AAAAAAH! (choo) | the happy naturalist

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