Trip Log – Day 344 – Clovis NM to Levelland TX

to-levellandOctober 14, 2016 – Clouds and Sun, 70 degrees

Miles Today: 89

Miles to Date: 17,961

States to Date: 45

img_7859After college I served as a VISTA Volunteer in the South Plains of Texas, an area most people would call West Texas, but locals insist is different. The South Plains are broad and flat: I did not cross a single river today. The area was mostly uninhabited until the 1920’s, when we figured out how to tap the Ogallala Aquifer and grow cotton, soybeans, watermelon, and sunflowers. By the 1970’s early settlers had become the areas first generation of senior citizens; I worked at South Plains Community Action Association to establish senior programs: meals on wheels, medical transport, and home repair. I traveled about 2,000 miles a month across thirteen rural counties to help elderly folks get new roofs, insulation, and indoor plumbing. It was gratifying work.

img_7866Today I cycled through a swath of that territory, from Muleshoe through Littlefield to Levelland, under a grey dome that didn’t turn sunny until mid afternoon. I look for buffet lunches on long travel days; the Dinner Bell’s Friday catfish buffet hit the spot. Fried okra, fried fish, fried popcorn shrimp… do you spot a trend? Seems I was the only patron who ate the sautéed fish. Then again, I was the only one lacking a big belly and a bigger hat.

img_7868One thing I did not eat was the pink gelatin. My year of senior citizen lunches forever ruined my appetite for any dish with marshmallows or suspended in Jell-O.

The irony of riding down Littlefield’s near abandoned downtown is that the largest occupied building is the senior center, as it is in so many small towns. In less than forty years a group that was an emerging demographic has become the dominant one.

screen-shot-2016-10-15-at-8-38-44-am

So far, The South Plains has weathered rural decline better than most areas of the Great Plains, Muleshoe, Littlefield and Levelland all have just about the same number of residents today as they did when I lived here. Commerce has simply shifted from downtown to the highway. In another forty years, who knows how many will remain.

 

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About paulefallon

Greetings reader. I am a writer, architect, cyclist and father from Cambridge, MA. My primary blog, theawkwardpose.com is an archive of all my published writing. The title refers to a sequence of three yoga positions that increase focus and build strength by shifting the body’s center of gravity. The objective is balance without stability. My writing addresses opposing tension in our world, and my attempt to find balance through understanding that opposition. During 2015-2106 I am cycling through all 48 mainland United States and asking the question "How will we live tomorrow?" That journey is chronicled in a dedicated blog, www.howwillwelivetomorrw.com, that includes personal writing related to my adventure as well as others' responses to my question. Thank you for visiting.
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2 Responses to Trip Log – Day 344 – Clovis NM to Levelland TX

  1. Jeanne Large says:

    The more our businesses move out of towns to be near highways, the more we will need Senior Centers to provide food and other services to people who live in and near the towns. Someday, while we still have affordable small communities, I hope we will let go of our automobile habit and return to walking, biking and busing to connect with others in our communities.

    Like

  2. paulefallon says:

    The adaptations that we make to our lives to accommodate cars over people are enormous. We give up so many opportunities to interact with others for the convenience of going wherever we want quickly. In the process we spread things further and further apart, making cars necessities in so many parts of our nation.

    Like

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