Monday, July 20, 2009

The "High Plains"

The summer is over halfway over, and I've not kept my promise to write regularly about my part of the United States. One of the things that we have difficulty explaining to people who think they know what Texas is like is that we live at altitude. I remember a few years ago trying to explain to a Swiss tour guide that our party was not going to get altitude sickness at 4000 feet. She never believed that we were used to it. She just kept repeating, "But you are from Texas."

We live on a great geologic formation called the Llano Estacado. The Wikipedia article will tell you probably more than you will ever need to know about the real thing. The altitude of my home is 4019 feet--an irritating height because high altitude baking mix directions vary so much. When we went on vacation a couple of weeks ago, I snapped this picture out the car window as we were going down off the western edge of the escarpment. In the distance you can see across the valley through which the Canadian River flows. This particular spot is between two dams, the ones forming Conchas Lake and Ute Lake.

Now, for how to talk like a native--Don't ever say, "The other day as I was driving down the escarpment," or "down the edge of the Llano Estacado." No native actually says that, even though we know what it means. We even use the phrase Llano Estacado in business and advertising. However, the local term is "Caprock," as in "He's running some cattle over by Forrest just on the edge of the Caprock." Some oldtimers even shorten it to "Cap." They may also apply the word "breaks" to where the land transitions back to lower altitude although "breaks" is also a word applied to any rough land with vegetation. When I was a child, the edge of the Caprock worried me. I regarded being on top of it as the norm, and whenever we drove off of it, on the way to Dallas, for example, I was always looking for the spot where you went back up on the other side, as you do when you cross a valley. I was in school before I got it straight in my head.

Yes, I'm knitting daily. I'm trying to finish my Victory Junction Blanket because it's reached the point of being bulky to have around.

1 comment:

Dr. M├ędanos said...

I recognized the portion of the Caprock in your photo. You may want to check out a similar photo at