Copper Breaks State Park in Quanah Texas
It had been oddly dry for a few days during NomadFEST in October. Heavy rain moved back in during our stop at Copper Breaks State Park and dashed our hiking plans.
A last-minute change in the travel schedule came when park officials notified us that our reservations at Abilene State Park were canceled due to flooding there. Central Texas had massive storms, including remnants of Hurricane Willa that made landfall just south of Mazatlan, Mexico and continued into Texas. We decided to drive on to the next scheduled destination at Monahans to the South West.
Our departure from Copper Breaks was greeted by sunny, clear skies over the soggy landscape and a lake-sized puddle out our door. Too bad the sun didn’t come a day earlier for hiking. All along our route, fields and washes still had pools of water colored red by the thick, rich mud.
That long driving day included a mail stop in Midland and ended with one of the worst parking challenges since we have been RVing.
A Few Days in the Sand at Monahans
Our pull-through site should have been easy peasy but our later-than-usual arrival reduced our site choices and we got a cock-eyed site, on a distinct incline that was off side-to-side and corner to corner. RV slide-out rooms need a level surface to avoid damage and we never want our wheels to be off the ground supported only by the jacks. An hour and a half later, after our standard leveling process failed, Bruce expertly moved the RV back and forth several times and got it mostly level with all wheels on the ground, which was no small chore! However, an electric service pole was in the way so we couldn’t extend a main slide all the way. Hey, we are flexible, we just had a smaller living room for those days!
Clear skies, sand dunes, sunsets and sunrises helped restore our mood and calm the stress that hangs around me during heavy rain events. We experienced multiple floods of our Oregon home on beautiful Fanno Creek. While we loved all of the animals drawn in by the stream, the threat of flood created some angst during heavy rain when all four sump pumps ran all the time. If any equipment failed, flooding would happen and staying a step ahead of the equipment failures was our challenge. Even after upgrading equipment with each flood, a new issue would always pop up. However, that last flood before we sold the house was just plain high water, no equipment failures and no way to avoid flooding! Since then, I am a little obsessed with internet weather reports and park alerts during rainy times like these.
Almost Shot At?
I was really warming up to Western Texas. So far, it was all about cute little towns with lots of history where friendly people try to breathe some new life back into their communities. Beautiful State Parks and interesting landscapes are still (thankfully) more common than the oil rigs, industrial equipment yards, and ugly temporary housing from the oil industry!
Some local people told us that the temporary oil workers brought about by increased fracking has diluted the sense of community in their small towns. The temporary oil workers are typically a rougher bunch who may even be separated from their families, giving rise to more “bad boy” behavior and certainly less interest in community life normally found in rural areas. Landowners are enticed by the big bucks for leasing their land to oil producers who want to create temporary housing for their workers. To fight that trend, one nearby county even created ordinances that limit the total number of county residents to a very small number.
Fracking loves sand and Monahans has lots of it. There have been several new Frac Sand facilities feeding the industry in the last few months and more planned. Hopefully, sand facilities will be positive for Monahans and won’t degrade the community as much as the fracking areas have been.
One day, we drove into downtown Monahans from the state park to drop off our Oregon Ballots at the Post Office. A dog trotted across the 4-lane road in front of us. At the corner of my eye, I saw a man raising a shotgun to shoot the dog ACROSS the highway! Problem is, if the guy had pulled the trigger, our car along with the dog would have been directly in his line of fire. I know we are in the wild west of Texas but, really, to be shot at on the way to mail my ballot? Just minding our own business driving on the highway to do our civic duty!
Bruce slammed on the brakes just as the guy shook his head disgustedly and lowered his gun as if he was upset that we messed up his shot! I’m sure he was NOT sorry that he wanted to shoot the dog or that he might put anyone on the roadway in danger!
Braving the Texas frontier to cast our ballots, just shows how much we care about voting! Despite this unusual mishap, my heart still warms to these small communities and their desire to maintain their friendly and serene way of life.
The Monahans Sandhills State Park dunes are weirdly landlocked and there are no hiking trails, just dunes for as far as you can see. Summers can be brutally hot and the dunes can be disorienting so they warn hikers to remember how to get back to their rig.
Being the big kids that we are, the beautiful Fall weather beckoned us to rent sleds from the visitor’s center and try sand sledding for the first time! It was really fun and a LOT of work to climb up the hills over and over! It was better than any gym exercise I’ve ever tried because it comes with an exhilarating sledding reward at the end of each lap. Plus, it reminds me of great times as a child running up and down the dunes at the Oregon Coast. We never thought of sledding down the dunes back then. Tip: sit to the back of the sled and keep your feet UP to avoid getting sand EVERYWHERE like I did.
Monahans Sandhills State Park was our last stop on the way to Big Bend National Park at the Texas – Mexico Border.