For many people, I imagine the perfect morning would consist of something like waking up to find the sun shining, birds tweeting, and a soft breeze wafting up the smell of warm pastries. For RGE, the perfect morning consists of waking up to find the car fully charged, and so in this respect, day 33 was the perfect morning! And so after unplugging the car and crapping some breakfast a.k.a. nachos from the local petrol station, we continued our journey east into Texas.
The first surprise we had when crossing into Texas, and one that would perpetuate throughout our stay there, was the abundance of wind farms. My previous, and obviously misinformed view of Texas is that of America’s oil capital, and of endless scrubland interspersed with nodding donkeys, the mainstay of onshore oil drilling for the last century. But the reality was far different, at least from what we could see. Huge meadows and farmland stretched out from the road, and yes, there was the occasional nodding donkey, but they were dwarfed in size and number by the near ubiquitous wind farms. On the 290 miles to Snyder, I don’t think we were ever out of sight of a wind turbine. We were amazed, and we vowed to check them out the next day.
On we continued to the small town of Snyder, population a shade over 5,000, where we pulled up into Days Inn hotel. The owner greeted us, and as chance would have it, he was from the UK too. And not just that, but he owned a petrol station in Nottingham which was just round the corner from where Andy used to live as an undergraduate! Anyway, this nostalgic discussion obviously appealed to him as he gave us a room and the first round of our drinks at the bar for free!
As always, the car was given preferential treatment and was hooked up to the mains supply, this time by running a cable into a 50 amp socket located in the hotel’s kitchen. This was quickly done and then it was off to the bar for some food and some drink. And this is where the night’s adventure began…
We ordered our food and drinks, the latter which were provided complimentary from the owner, and we began tucking in. As soon as we finished our beers, another round arrived. The kindly bartender informed us that there was a gentleman at the end of the bar who wanted to buy us drinks. This is where we met Mike, a very friendly and chatty guy who got talking with over the rest of the night. When the bar closed and his wife Andrea came to pick him up, he suddenly came up with an idea; he suggested that we drive out to this place he knows, right under the wind turbines and with a view to take one’s breath away.
This sounded very enticing, so with Andrea at the wheel (she was the only one who hadn’t drunk anything) we drove out to this location some 35 miles away from the hotel. After a while we turned off the main road and took a side road that wound its way up the hillside until such time that we could turn off onto a dirt road that ended right at the base of a large wind turbine. As Mike promised, the view was spectacular, with a full moon ahead illuminating the fields below, and distant town lighting up their respective areas. That combined with the stars above and the wind in our hair did make for quite an amazing experience.
We should have stopped there and turned back, but Mike was determined to show us an even higher point which required quite a trek through the bush. So the team went off with him with the exception of Andy and myself who stayed back at the car with Andrea. About half an hour passed when Clemens came running back and asked to take the car into the bush to fetch Mike, who had had an accident. We instantly jumped to the conclusion that he must have been bitten by a snake as we knew there were some in the area, but it soon transpired that he had fallen down a 1 metre drop and severely fractured his ankle. So between us, we managed to carry him to the car and start driving him to the hospital, during which he was clearly in an excruciating amount of pain. Anyway, to cut a long story short, we got him safely to the hospital where they quickly received him and got him in for an x-ray. We would like to wish Mike a speedy recovery, and we hope that he is quickly on his feet again!
As for team RGE, it had been a long night, and we were happy to get back to the hotel and catch some sleep before yet another early start the next morning; the last leg we needed to complete in order to get to Austin on time!