Place: Van Horn, TX; Book: Edna Ferber’s Giant

The seat of Culberson County, and the westernmost incorporated community in the Central Time Zone in Texas, Van Horn smells of ozone when you drive into it under a West Texas rain.


It smelled that way to us when we drove in. We’re headed to Arizona to pick up a Class A RV we are receiving as a gift from a couple that’s ready to settle down for a while (and which, in the very near future, will replace my little trailer The Pryde—named for the pirate Jean Lafitte’s ship).


But getting off the boat and onto the road for this trip didn’t happen without incident. For unimportant reasons, we got a very late start, and in lugging luggage out of the boat and onto the dock to take up to the car, the unthinkable happened: The Bosun’s guitar went for a swim. It was perfectly dark. We had a pile of bags on the dock. Something settled, the bags shifted, and ... splash!



Thanks to a marvelous TRIC case, the instrument floated and stayed dry! Huge whew.


Kissing the boat good night and goodbye (and thanking our lucky musical stars), we set out ... to find ourselves at the crossroads between Carlsbad Caverns, Big Bend, and the land of Edna Ferber’s 1952 novel Giant (coming 27 years after Ferber won a Pulitzer for her book So Big). When I read Giant as a kid, I couldn’t fathom poor Leslie Benedict’s consternation at landing in West Texas. A little growing up, a little looking around at the world, and a little firsthand Texas have loosened my sympathies, though I do ❤️ TX.


It’s a land of barbed-wire fences; dense, dry heat (at least in July); broad stretches of traffic-less road that feel weird to amble across without worry; and cliffs that look like they want climbing. Perhaps....


It’s also home to the historic El Capitan Hotel (a vicious bread pudding on tap), which in turn hosts this oasis:

A difficult choice indeed, but I could only pick one, and it was this little guy because a trip that will include a stop in Tombstone, Arizona, requires some Doc Holliday:



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