At Home He's a Tourist

He fills his head with culture/ He gives himself an ulcer.

Saturday, February 22, 2003

Another Lubbock excursion today. First stop: the American Wind Power Center and Windmill Museum, a long corrugated tin building with a couple of dozen antique windmills on display inside and another dozen or so scattered on the grounds outside. To be exact, these aren't wind mills but wind-powered pumps that draw water from underground for cattle to drink. They are so common around here as to be emblematic--our phone book, for instance, has a photo of one on the front cover, there is a bronze sculpture of one on our courthouse lawn, replicas of them decorate yards, etc. I like 'em. They are the only flowers that spring up on these plains. The museum admission was free but they got my money for a poster reproduction of an old Aermotor advertisement showing a happy farm family driving their new windmill home in a Model T (?) pick up.

Then I took a look at the National Ranching Heritage Center on the Tech Campus. It's a collection of old buildings and artifacts from the heyday of west Texas cattle ranching. Here I was able to ruin a pair of dress shoes by stepping in an unmarked section of wet concrete.

To take a break from the sightseeing, I zipped south on I-27 to make a booze run. At the Llano Estacado winery I got a free taste test of six different varietals, including my first ever sample of port (delicious). I mentioned to the tour guide that I don't like white wines, and he explained that, except for Chardonnay, white wines are not barrel-aged, and hence don't pick up the oak flavors--and yet Texans prefer the sweetness of white wine to the dryness of the reds and so 80% of the winery's output is white wine. I picked up a bottle of Chardonnay (to give the white wines one more chance for my affections) as well as a bottle of their top-drawer Merlot on sale. On the way back to town I stopped by the Strip to get some more New Belgium ale, a half pint of Amaretto, and a fifth of Bushmills. I'm not going to say how much all of this cost me, but I'm hoping I'm well supplied at least for the next month and a half.

Back into town I took a quick look around the Texas Tech Museum. Unfortunately I moved into the area too late to see the Vatican exhibition which a Lubbock priest had somehow managed to bring to the museum, and there wasn't too much I saw in their permanent collection. So after a half-hour or so I was back on the highway heading home. I'll be making the same drive tomorrow morning for church.


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