We are camped in a dusty, gravel field, shoulder to shoulder with RV after RV after RV. When I look out the front window I see a pile of garbage that stretches to the horizon. When I look out the back window, I see two oil pumps hard at work. The drive here was equally unscenic - flat, dusty, fields punctuated with old plastic bags. Old cars and other assorted large chunks of detritus lay everywhere. And everywhere we looked, oil pumps looking for all the world like giant chickens pecking the ground. "Dub-ya" grew up here. What are we doing in such a miserable spot?
Midland is aptly named. It's more or less midway to where we really want to be. It is located in the middle of the Permian Basin, one of the most prolific oil bearing spots in the US. The media would have us believe that the US is pretty well tapped out when it comes to oil, but those giant chickens are pumping every where. Many of our fellow campers are working here while the price of a barrel of petroleum warrants all this pumping. We went to the Petroleum Museum to learn more.
The museum was well done, the result of all those oil profits no doubt. We started in a room that made us feel as if we were standing under the sea with fish swimming around us. A voice told us that all of Texas used to be under the sea and that this sea ebbed and flowed repeatedly, building the layers of limestone and sea critters that comprise the Permian Basin today. We nodded to one another as if we understood, but when you really stop to think about all of Texas being under the sea, it does tax the imagination. We learned about the oil drilling process, which also boggles the mind. How to decide where to drill, how to handle the pipe and tools that go thousands of feet beneath the earth, how to handle the fires that break out when the oil explodes to the surface, how to handle the million gallons of salt water that can come bursting out of the hole - this is not an easy job. We also saw a display of race cars that used to be manufactured here. No mention of global warming or climate change....
Then we went to the Commemorative Air Force Museum, one of the largest collections of World War II aircraft in flying condition. Inside the main hanger a cheery group of men were restoring a B29. They had already accomplished the hardest part - raising the $1.5 million required for this job. The museum also had a fine display that told the story of World War II as we walked from display to display. Although military activities were most prominent, space was also given to the effect the war had on the civilians at home such as the display of ration books. Most of what we saw we had already learned from our WWII veteran fathers, but this would be a great spot to bring a school group.
And when we discovered that those piles of garbage around our campground belong to a huge recycling center and will be chopped up and melted into new good stuff, it made the view a tiny bit less unappealing.