Tag Archives: running

Van Horn, Texas

23 Apr

Running virtually across the state of Texas is once again proving to be a challenge. With working, adventuring and recovering from the injuries sustained while adventuring, I am having a hard time getting in the miles and am pretty far behind schedule in both running and writing. A few weeks back I blew through Van Horn, population 1,907 and falling fast. I suspect that a fair percentage of the “locals” are in the federal witness protection program. This little community is 140 long miles from the state’s western border outside of El Paso.

The town is not named for U.S. Army Major Jefferson Van Horne who passed through the area in 1849 on his way to taking command of Fort Bliss. It is, instead, named for Lt. James Judson Van Horn who ten years later commanded an army garrison near some local springs that were strategic in this desert environment. Lt. Van Horn’s post was seized by Confederate forces in 1861 and he was taken prisoner. I guess that neither rank nor military success are requirements for having a town named after you in far west Texas.

The world might little note what goes on in Van Horn if not for two interesting developments. The first is that Jeff Bezos, of Amazon.com fame, bought 290,000 acres of land north of town as a launch site for his space tourism business, Blue Origin. The company is working to lower the cost of space flight so that we can all go. They actually have local job openings posted on their website. Pretty innovative stuff.

The second bunch of crazies working in Van Horn is a group of scientists from the Long Now Foundation. The foundation provides a counterpoint to today’s accelerating culture and helps make long-term thinking more common. They hope to creatively foster responsibility in the framework of the next ten millennia. The group is building a 10,000 year clock deep inside a mountain outside of Van Horn. This is an implicit statement of optimism about the fate of civilization. They are building the clock just so that you will ask why they are building the clock.

Admittedly, Van Horn doesn’t look like much on the surface, but there is some strange stuff going on out here where no one seems to be paying attention. Next stop on the journey is Balmorhea for some underwater meditation in the middle of the desert.

El Paso

30 Jan

Injury, apathy and potentially misplaced priorities prevented me from completing my virtual run across the state of Texas last year. I made it from the far western border to somewhere east of San Antonio before bingeing over the holidays. This year I have vowed to complete the journey and, after a somewhat slow start, am picking up the pace. I’ll check in from time to time with updates from points of interest along the trail. Starting to the west of El Paso, the town is now behind me, but since there is nothing too interesting out here in the middle of the Chihuahuan Desert, I am going to tell you about the city.

The home of Rose’s Cantina exists in most people’s minds as a place in a song with whirling Mexican maidens and jealous cowboys. Or it is often pointed out by informative pilots while cruising at 35,000 feet on your way to somewhere more important. But El Paso has character and history. Nicknamed “The Sun City,” it is the fourth sunniest city in the US and Franklin Peak at 7,192 feet above sea level can be seen for sixty miles in all directions. Largely ignoring history, culture, and geography, El Paso was officially ceded to Texas by the US Senate in the Compromise of 1850. The city is closer to Arizona’s capital of Phoenix than its own in Austin, almost 600 miles to the east.

I like having El Paso in Texas. It allows us to claim Stevie Nicks, who first joined Fleetwood Mac in the city in 1975. It is also where Billy Joe and Molly Sue “ran into a great big hassle” before they decided to “take the money and run.” This is exactly what this Billy Joe intends to do now. Next stop is Van Horn, Texas, population 2,435.

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