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Steve is happy to be back in Texas





It's early on Monday morning, and we're looking for a Walmart in Abilene, Texas. We left Illinois on Sunday afternoon and have driven steadily through the night. The rented Blazer is artfully packed like a mortar-less stone wall, each piece carefully selected for size and shape to fit pockets of space. Food and camping gear are on the bottom, clothes and camera equipment on the top. It all fits, just barely. The rearview mirror is useless.

We have returned to Texas, this time with a clue and a plan. Our trip two years ago was a four thousand mile exercise in sleep deprivation, punctuated by periods of intense herping. Rather than camping or staying in motels, we slept upright in a rented van, either while driving or parked. Our travel plans were insanely ambitious - we covered west Texas from Comstock to Alpine, south to Terlingua, back north to Fort Davis and Van Horn, and then home. We found some nice herps but had no desire to repeat the experience.

This trip would be different. We've had two years to reflect and plan. On this trip we will camp out, making Seminole Canyon State Park between Langtry and Comstock our base of operations. Our herping would be limited to Val Verde County, hiking around Seminole Canyon in the morning, and at night cruising some of the famous roads here in Gray-Band Land. Sack time would be in the schedule, and we would attempt to eat better.

A Walmart is located without burning too much daylight, and we purchase our five day Non-Resident Small Game hunting licenses. We may bring a few snakes back, and want to stay clean with the law. With our licenses in our wallets and an IHOP breakfast under our belts, we head due south. It is a glorious sunny morning, and we make good time on Route 277, as the low rolling hills and grasslands gradually transform into Chihuahuan desert. The change is slow at first, with an occasional prickly pear or sotol by the roadside. Eventually the grasslands are gone, replaced by mesquite and sage, ocotillo and lechugilla. We have arrived! The mood is upbeat as we start another herping adventure. A week in west Texas seems rich with promise.

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