Checking in from Jefferson, Texas …
On Monday and Tuesday, May 14 and 15, I completed my short tour through Louisiana. Covering only the northwest corner of the state, I’m certain we didn’t get to experience what the state has to offer. What we did encounter was a very vibrant oil industry. Operating pumping equipment is everywhere—in fields, pastures, every clearing in the woods, even yards (Be sure to check out the Facebook pictures on Heart Trek USA). I saw hundreds of working pumpers with storage tanks every half mile or so. Some were located in the yards of homes and some out in the cornfields. Sometimes you would see just one in someone’s yard and then next door would be six or seven scattered all over the lot. With all this activity, I wondered why the area didn’t look particularly affluent. One local told me that most of the wells are owned by diverse corporate entities, some even international. Since each well costs between $30,000 and $90,000 to drill and set into operation, most locals cannot afford to take a chance on what could be a dry well. Instead they lease drilling spots for $500 to $1,000 a month. That helps pay the bills but certainly doesn’t build wealth. I also learned that they often hit natural gas when drilling. Since the natural gas is so prevalent, they usually just cap that well for potential later use. Right now all the focus is on bringing up the crude.
One sad note as I left Louisiana. A nice couple, Buddy and Irma from Vivian, LA, pulled up beside me and handed me a $5 donation to American Heart Association. They told me that they were on their way to the funeral home to be with family, as their five-year-old great granddaughter had died Sunday in a tragic ATV accident. I tried to return the money, but they refused. Buddy stated, “Life must go on.” Thank you, Buddy and Irma, and God bless you and your family.
Crossing the state line into Texas, the difference was immediately noticeable. The roadway straightened out and the shoulders were wider. Also, even though still just a two-lane highway, the speed limit jumped to 70 mph. I can’t walk any faster, but my road mates have certainly speeded up. The road signs in Texas are different and interesting. They have the regular Interstate signs and state road signs but they also have what they call the “farm to market” roads or FM written on the signs. For example, Brenda took the FM3300 road to scout me a path through the town of Plain Dealing. It was a winding road shaded by trees and lots of acreage. It reminded her of going down someone’s six-mile long driveway. Most of the FM roads are narrow and winding with little room to pass. However, there are some that are wider. We have enjoyed learning and experiencing new things.
This is the east Texas hill country or the piney woods section of the state. I already like it here because it feels like the west. My inner cowboy is coming out. We are spending the night in Jefferson, a historic and very attractive little town. Jefferson is the fifth oldest town in Texas, and Marion County boasts 74 sites on the National Historic Register. I got to say the Tourism Board (with the help of Jeff and Paula) is very active here and helping us promote our Heart Trek USA Walk by posting my walk and stay in Jefferson on their Facebook page as well as alerting the news media of our arrival. This is why all their hard work in promoting the town creates a vibrant city and welcoming feel to the town. The Visitors Center is allowing us to park our RV in a city-owned parking lot. We hope to get to tour the many interesting shops and sights in the town on Wednesday.
So now I have crossed seven states with four to go. These last four will go slow as it is expected that it will take at least 40 days just to cross the Lone Star State. Here is our projected schedule for the next few days:
Wednesday, May 16 … to Jefferson, TX
Thursday, May 17 … to Lake O’ the Pines
Friday, May 18 … to Gilmer, TX