Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Texas Road Trip, Day 2 -- near Kenedy (sic)

I took a nice walk on the beach this morning in Port Aransas. Without really planning to, I walked down the beach all the way to the ship channel. There, in about 1971 when I was barely a teenager, I walked with my father just after dawn to see a large ship coming out of the channel. And diving playfully, just in front of its bow, were two or three dolphins. This was a magical moment, one of those times when the universe arranges itself before you in an unexpectedly beautiful way. And one of the best memories I have of a nice moment with my dad. This morning I didn't expect the experience to repeat itself, but a large ship was coming in through the channel, and at first there were no dolphins -- and then there they were, doing the same trick, dving in graceful arcs just in front of the ship's huge bow. I guess it's a dolphin thing.

After I walked back to the hotel, it began to rain. For over an hour while I had breakfast and conducted a phone interview, rain poured down. When I finally checked out and went down to my car, I found I had left the windows open. I had to take a bunch of tourist giveaway newspapers from the hotel's lobby to sit on until they mopped up the water.

I drove northwest up US 181 all the way to San Antonio, but around the towns of Kenedy (sic) and Karnes City I took loads of side roads just to the west, and I saw tons of oil wells in every stage -- old ones that were capped, new ones being drilled, and many in every stage in between.

Here's what the pad looks like with the well head when they finish drilling it and connecting it to a pipeline:

Much of the area I drove through, west of the highway between Beeville and Karnes City, was still ranch country, beautifully oak-covered. Other spots were untended brush. But in other places there were large industrial installations. In one spot there was a big area the size of about 20 football fields that was entirely stripped, taken up with gigantic equipment and a few large buildings; a sign identified it as an oil pumping station. That's one thing that demonstrated the immediate area had been an oil field for many years.

Then other thing was the presence of many pipelines. They'll all buried, but of course where the road crossed them they're clearly marked. I saw a lot of pipelines, both natural gas (blue signs) and oil (orange signs). And I also crossed the route of a new pipeline under construction:

In Karnes City, I stopped for a while at a major intersection. I saw probably four times as many huge trucks as I did yesterday in Cuero. And at the gas station-store, there were lots of oil field workers, dressed in jumpsuits or t-shirts emblazoned with the names of their employers. These included vans full of red-suited Halliburton workers. Of course Halliburton was an oil field services company long before it was a general services provider in Iraq under the Bush administration.

Back on the main road, I passed several brand-new hotels, all with large pickup trucks in the parking lots. And I also passed several places where large new RVs had parked. All this is housing for oil field workers.

Sorry for the tilt.

Finally I drove up to San Antonio, where I checked into a cheap hotel (and if you want a fairly dependable cheap hotel, go to a Super 8) in time to watch the second Presidential debate.

No comments: