“I reached some plains so vast, that I did not find their limit anywhere I went, although I traveled over them for more than 300 leagues, with no more landmarks than if we had been swallowed up by the sea. There was not a stone, nor bit of rising ground, nor a tree, nor a shrub, nor anything to go by.”
The land was hard.
Had it ever been fertile?
But there was nothing to indicate it now.
Vegetation that defied the heat.
A near absence of rainfall.
Not quite a desert,
Clearly not an oasis.
Lizards of various kinds,
With mean-looking bodies;
Like an arrow with spines.
The land was called Llano Estacado.
And Blackwater Draw.
Out of this ancient, primordial wilderness, several routes emerged, and although they might lead west or east, simple geography took what rain that fell east and south.
A headwaters formed in the valley of the draw and slowly moved across the expanse as the elevation gave way to lower ground to the east.
For millennia, the waters cut deeper, forming a definite path, arising in what would become eastern New Mexico and crossing inexorably into western Texas, and eventually flowing into a confluence with other water.
There, a river proper formed on the plains of west Texas, and it would become one of the longest — if not best known — rivers in the United States.
The Salt Fork and Double Mountain Fork Rivers came together in Stonewall County to form the main channel of the bigger river.
And the river, like the land that spawned it, was hard, ever-changing, never-ending, and mean.
Over time, the animals, native Americans, European explorers, and the invading white settlers, would come upon its swirling currents to discover relief and danger simultaneously. The waters provided relief of thirst, but danger in any attempt to cross it.
Blood was spilled into the thirsty ground and in the devil currents as tribal conflicts flared, calmed, then reignited.
But as the 19th century passed into the 20th, and the ancient battles and the land itself were finally brought to heel — the former more than the latter — hard roads were cut into the land along the ancient river.
One of those roads came in from Quanah in the north and meandered south, until it turned southeast near a nondescript and uninhabited crossroads at Stamford.
The road would ultimately join the river near Waco, and the two would continue on together symbiotically, south and east crossing back and forth, until they both terminated at the Gulf.
The river was called the Brazos. The road was Texas Highway 6.
And so the man traveled slowly and methodically east and south down the road along the river because he had nothing but money and time.
And a target.
To be continued.
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