Mile Marker 118940: Monahans Sandhills State Park Vol. II

What it is, Pigeon Handlers?

I know you’ve been waiting patiently. Pictures are only worth so much… a thousand words so I’m told. But the way I figure it, that’s only partly true. Kinda like Hilton Honor Points. Yea, you’ve got 20,000 of them bad boys, but how much are they really worth? I think if you use them on Amazon [fun fact, you can find my books there. Click here to indulge my shameless sales insert] 500 points is the equivalent to 1 dollar. Some maths person out there run those numbers for us.

Anywho, this post isn’t about that, its about Monahans Sandhills State Park. Pigeon-eyed viewers with very little to do on their Sunday afternoon might notice that the miles in the Mile Marker title have back tracked a little compared to early adventures. That’s because, if you remember, we said bon voyage to the Pissy Cricket and we are now pimpin’ the Soccer-Mom-Ballin’-On-A-Budget Mobile, SMBOAbm for short [pronounced smmmmm-boa as the last b and m are silent]. The SMBOAbm is a few years older than the Pissy Cricket was, but she’s got a few less miles under her shoes. Thus, we haven’t rolled back the odometer, just opened ourselves up for more adventures.

The maiden voyage, if you will, was the trip out to the Sandhills. But the story doesn’t start there. You see, this trip was more of a test run as I am planning an excursion to the Davis Mountains soon and needed to have a field test for my hiking equipment. Yes, in addition to all of the other things I half ass, we can now add explorer [sort of, I go on mild adventures quite often, but this is a whole new level]. Safety first though, as I don’t want to start up a mountain and quickly run out of breat’ before we get to the h.

But further on, as the story doesn’t start there either. I had been planning this for some time and I can now say that 2019 has been my most active year in recent memory. I’ve been secretly training. Running. Jump roping. Dropping vices left and right! No longer is the only priority fit’n a whole pizza in my belly, but fit’n-ess is now a way of life. Kinda.

Still deeper though, as this story still hasn’t reached it’s beginning. To tell the truth, we can go back as far as December 28th, 2018. This was the day I got back to work after the Christmas Holiday and also the very first day that I took my first athletical steps in years. Go back the previous night [the 27th] and we can say that was when I went to Academy and bought running pants. The West Texas Wind never stood a chance!

Alas, that was not the beginning. On December 21st, 2018, I went to work. The morning was cold, maybe in the twenties, but I needed to hook up a valve on my poly pipe I had installed on some water tanks. Being that there was a chill in the air, I was bundled. I always wear my Texas A&M hoodie when I leave the trailer because it’s cozy. The problem is that it isn’t Flame Retardant and there fore I put my FR denim jacket over that. I also wore my shirt tucked and belt fastened, because that’s how you do things. To top it all off, you better believe I had them Wrangler 13MWZ FR jeans on. Anything else and you are wearing your sister’s jeans.

I gathered up my tools and I bent down to start putting on a Victaulic clamp. I’m about 30 seconds into this and I notice something strange had begun. I was running out of air. Now, before you get worried, this wasn’t because of H2S or anything of that nature. No, I had concluded that I had too many layers on, like that kid on A Christmas Story. That had to be it, so I took off both jackets. Besides, I was working. As the blood started flowing, I’d get warm the good ole fashioned way. Just like our relatives and their dual uphill walks to the school house, in the snow.

I resumed and got another bolt put in. Boy, was I winded. I untucked my shirt. All of this bending over was a bad angle and there wasn’t anyone around to check me out, no need to look like Oilfield Adonis. I tried to start again. Loosened the belt. My pants had shrunk. Bent again, no oxygen. I finally had to unsnap my pants so that I could finish the job, and when I had completed, I huffed and puffed like the Big Bad Wolf.

The truth of the matter is this: I had become fat and out of shape.

Fast forward to now and things have changed. I’m still less little around the middle, but I have obtained new Wranglers. I am averaging about a mile run, a mile walk, and two or three trips up and down the bleachers at the foosball field with my hiking pack, so I’m less out of shape [I still wheeze like a former smoker (which is surprising because smoking is a vice I never picked up)]. And I’m eating healthier, sort of. So yeah, you peasants can pretty much bow down now.

“But what does this have to do with Monahans Sandhills State Park?” You ask as you realize you found yourself in a fitness blog. You were surprised enough to even still be here.

Right-o!

So me and the SMBOAbm rolled up like we owned the place, carefully observing all traffic laws. The joint was closed, so we fumbled our way through the after hours pay protocol. Luckily, the Park Ranger was still around and we had an absolute ball as he gave me the run down on park policies and best paths to hike. I put my registration ticket in my window and drove on down to the edge of the road.

Sunscreen, plenty of water, and a winning attitude were all that I needed [aside from the camera and GPS] and I took off! Fun fact, there are no hiking trails in Monahans Sandhills. That makes sense because its dunes and there’s a lot of wind, blaze your own trail. I took off over and down the first set of dunes and immediately started having a ball, stopping and taking pictures of every little thing I thought was interesting. That included sand, yuccas, ants, more sand, and tracks.

The park offered two different styles of dunes, both of which were interesting in their own ways. The first were what you would imagine when you think of dunes: smooth pristine, almost white sand. Sunglasses definitely a must! The others were packed with desert vegetation and the ground crunched with each step on past generations of charred plants. Though not what you would initially think for dunes, but here amongst the plants is where there was more evidence of wildlife. Granted, I only saw tracks of ‘yotes, lizards, and birds, but I did see a few wicked sweet red ant mounds. Thusly, I imagined that there were horny toads around, stealthed out amongst the sand.

Word to the wise, amigos, if you plan on trekking around in the sand, make sure you have the proper shoes. Preferably, ones that don’t let sand in your shoes. Every time I climbed up to the peak of a dune, I had to take off my hiking boots and dump the sand out.

“But what kind of shoes do you recommend?” You ask.

Don’t know. If anyone’s got any ideas, lemme know.

Anyway, I meandered for about a mile and a half, starting and stopping to take photographs. Being West Texas, there was a bit of wind and the loose sand stirred up a little. I stumbled upon a nice little cubby hole where I was able to find the shade and get out of the wind, so I set up my mini chair and took a load off for a while, scribbling a little and mostly just relaxing.

After about half an hour, I crawled out of the hole and climbed up to the tallest dune I could see [that was close enough to the SMBOAbm] and posted up for the sunset. I closed my eyes for a while, almost taking a siesta. As the sun started drifting closer to the horizon, I set my camera up on its tripod and got some pretty neat shots. Say what you will about the bleak, arid nature of West Texas, but the sunrises and sunsets are often pretty spectacular. Once the sun was gone, I headed back to my ride, taking a while to get the sand out of my shoes and everywhere else.

Such a neat place and I’ll definitely be exploring much more of it in the coming months while I’m here. If you are a big camper or have business in the area, it is definitely worth the trip out here. And it’s only four bucks, so yeah.

This piece is the continuation of the Monahans Sandhills adventure. If you would like to see the gallery, click here.

If those photos aren’t loading correctly, let me know and I’ll get the Interweb Carrier Pigeons on it.

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