Saturday, December 1, 2012

Oklahoma, Okay!

I went on a business trip this week. Mode of dress: jeans and sweatshirt.  My job was to drive around parts of Oklahoma and Texas, looking at crops.  If there is a place that is the opposite of Western Pennsylvania, it is Western Oklahoma.   Here are seven things I found interesting about this area of the country.

1. Seeing the crops In Real Life.  The data come alive!

Future bread (Hard Red Winter Wheat).  This wheat has
been planted in wheat stubble (from the previous crop).

Future bread, up close.  Needs rain.

Common Household Mom in field of future bread.
Future canola oil

Future t-shirts.  Cotton field with center pivot irrigation.

City girl out to pasture.
Texas: prickly pear cactus, and wheat behind the fence.

2. Seeing animals, especially if they were on the other side of a fence.

These cows became interested in us, because we stopped, rolled down the window, and played the radio loud.    It was too bad we couldn't play the Car Talk guys – I'm sure it would have elicited an even stronger reaction than rock music.  We have plenty of cows in Pennsylvania, but I think they are better entertained than these cows.
Cattle like rock music.  Because really, what else is
 there to do out here?

Longhorn cattle. The City Girl is glad for the fence, and
hopes they are electrified wires.  We did NOT play
 rock music to these guys.
My colleague said these dirt mounds are evidence of
 prairie dogs.  We saw these mounds all over the place,
but I didn't see any prairie dogs at all on the whole trip.

We saw this coyote in the middle of a wheat field.  Another time we saw two coyotes running along the side of the road.  I also saw a sign on the road that said, "Beware of wild pigs."  But we didn't see any of those.  Whew.

Wile E. Coyote, no Roadrunner.

3. The uncanny orange-red color of the soil.  

The photos don’t quite do it justice.  It almost seemed to glow.  I don't know what makes it that color - extra iron in the soil?  It was also mostly bone-dry (shades of the Dust Bowl).

4.  The importance of water towers and courthouses.
My colleague, who has gone on a cajillion tours like this, said that a water tower is the sign that there is probably some 'civilization' in a town, i.e. a decent place to eat lunch and find a clean bathroom.

On Tuesday we ate lunch in Cordell, which is the county seat of Washita County.  It has a very nice courthouse, which was clearly the pride of the town.  It reminded me of the movie Back to the Future and the book Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel.

5.  Straight roads, no traffic
I dread highway driving in Pennsylvania.  The PA Turnpike has got to be one of the worst roads in the US.  And there are always a lot of vehicles on the road. When my colleague asked me to go on this trip as a driver, I cringed at the thought. But driving in Oklahoma was a joy.  Let’s just say that I got to drive Very Fast.  In two days we drove a total of about 900 miles.

This was about the most traffic we saw out on these country roads.

There are zero roads this straight where I live.

6. Energy sources.

Cheap gas in Oklahoma.  Plus a pizza shower.

The view outside my hotel room in Wichita Falls, TX.
Gas is even cheaper here, at $3.07/gallon.

Windmills and oil drill.

7. Fascinating landscapes and geological formations

It's not all just flat cropland.
There are mountains in Oklahoma!  The Wichita Mts.

An interesting geological formation. There is nice cropland
up on top of that mesa (I am assuming that is a mesa).

Close-up of Interesting Geological formation in Oklahoma.
Texas landscape.  

Thank you for taking this photo tour of Oklahoma and Texas with me!


Cassi Renee said...

I'm now very curious about your job.

I love signs like the pizza showers :-) We have a local chain of fast food restaurants whose specialty is rich ice-cream (they call it frozen custard, but I'd never heard that term till I moved here). They often have things like "double cheeseburger caramel pecan" and we always make fun of them.

Angie said...

Looks like a fascinating trip! Yes, the long straight roads still surprise me, too.

Suburban Correspondent said...

I live in a suburb of a major East Coast city, and I've seen coyotes wandering around in broad daylight. On the sidewalk in front of my house, in times!

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Pizza showers!
What a trip. I'm always a little freaked out when I get into the wide open spaces like that, actually. The Dakotas scare the crap out of me.