Saturday, February 05, 2011

Dispatches from the Desert

Maybe it's because it is so drastically different from all things Pine Curtain in its geography, humidity, and vegetation. Maybe it's because of the utter solitude it can afford. Or maybe it's just because it is, literally, hundreds and hundreds of miles away from what is my normal day-to-day, but man, I love the desert.

As you start driving south and west from Austin, the landscape begins to change from the rolling hills that give the Hill Country its name, to the more distinct jagged limestone mesas, to utter flatness. And then as you start entering the arid and rugged area of Texas that hangs down like a cow's udder into Mexico, it becomes desert, and it becomes a whole new kind of lovely.

When we drove down on Thursday, it started snowing on us just east of Ozona and continued until just sounth of Alpine (place names, that if you're not from Texas, will mean nothing to you). It was gorgeous and, thankfully, didn't impede our driving too much. We arrived at our little cabin right around 5pm and quickly unloaded the car in the bitter cold. That night, I made turkey chili and cornbread. Perfect cold-weather fare.

Yesterday we ventured to Big Bend National Park. It was sunny, but very cold and windy--not ideal for getting out and exploring. The road up into the mountains was closed due to icy road conditions, which was a bummer. We're planning on going back tomorrow so we can explore the park more fully. I told BH that the next time we come down to this part of the state, I want it to be in the spring when all of the desert plants are blooming and the wildlife is abundant. Right now, things are pretty hunkered down for the winter, but it is sunny and pretty, nonetheless.

Tomorrow, I will post photos I've taken on our trip thus far. I've been going kind of crazy with the Hipstamatic and Instagram photo apps on my new phone. They're so COOL!

Around lunchtime, we drove through the odd little ghost town of Terlingua, got some lunch and a six-pack, and headed back to the house where I took one helluva nap. Last night's menu was saffron and chicken risotto (from scratch, bitches!) and a yummy green salad.

Today, while waiting for it to warm up (it's creeping toward the 60s right now, but the wind still has a bit of a bite), we've breakfasted, showered, and read in the utter peace and quiet. I also did some research on the summer writing workshops I'm going to be applying to. This year, unlike last, I'm going to have a damn Plan B in case I don't get accepted into my Plan A. I've created a spreadsheet (I know: DORK) that shows each workshop, its admission requirements, costs, location, collegiate or university affiliation, nearest airport, etc. I need to get my stuff submitted ASAP to my top two choices (there are five potential programs that I've researched). So this afternoon I'm going to take advantage of all this "me" time to look through this laptop and see if I've got any stuff already written that fits the bill (and I feel is worthy) of submission. And if not? Start writing.

Oh, here's a quick fun fact: Brewster county, where we're staying, is the largest in Texas. It covers over 6,900 square miles and is bigger than the states of Rhode Island and Delaware, combined.

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