Waxing Gibbous Moon
Crossing the border into Texas is always a shocker. The gas prices drop, the highway widens, the speed limit shoots up, and there are flies all over the place. The flies are not particular about where they live - they would gather in Maryland or Rhode Island, wherever - they just love poop. In west Texas, between the four lane highway with the 12-foot shoulders and the railroad that parallels it, there are acres and acres of cattle feedlots. Cattle stand shoulder to shoulder in their own poop, filling enormous, fenced,-in black-dirt pens, waiting, I assume, to be loaded into rail cars or trailers that take them to their probably much better lives as steaks and hamburgers. And the flies? The flies are in heaven.
Approaching the town of Hereford ("Beef Capitol of the World"), some of the flies seem to have discovered other dining choices (landfills? dumpsters? patio cat food?). These might be the bourgeoise flies, the snotty upper middle class ones who only visit the feedlots when they have had too much sticky, spilled vino to drink.
Palo Duro Canyon State Park
Among these bourgie flies there is yet another class of fly - the on-vacation, RV crowd that hitches rides to Palo Duro Canyon State Park for weekends and longer stays. Some have even become permanent residents. When I pulled into a campground at this surprisingly beautiful park and exited my trusty Hondo, these happy-go-lucky flies swarmed me - and Hondo - and the first ten items I placed on the picnic table.
Very soon I abandoned any hope of camping there, hiking for a bit (swat-curse-shake-like-a-dog hiking is not fun) and taking some nice photos before moving on - along with several buzzing passengers. Perhaps this was peak fly season in west Texas, I don't know, so maybe, just maybe, there is a much better time to sample the stunning beauty of Palo Duro Canyon. Otherwise, arm yourself with lots of Off! and one of those water-powered salt pellet cannons to fight back. And don't bring your sister. She will not like the flies, no matter how pretty the countryside is..