This is a sneak peek of the two drives I did for the June issue of Texas Monthly magazine. It’s the Drive drive, done for no other reason than the pleasure of driving. and the West Texas Music drive (below). and I’ll post extended stories about each stop on the WT music drive – the Bob Wills Museum in Turkey, the Woody Guthrie Folk Center in Pampa, Norman Petty Studios in Clovis, New Mexico, Waymore’s Museum and Drive-Thru Liquor in Littlefield, and the Buddy Holly Center in Lubbock, as well as content about South Plains College in Levelland, the most musical school in Texas – in the coming days.
What’s especially cool about this issue is the cover shot of FM 2810, aka Pinto Canyon Rd., southwest of Marfa down to the Rio Grande, which I wrote about in 1997 for TexMo as My Favorite Road in Texas. Except for all the motion-detector sensors and the Border Patrol guys who greet you as soon as you hit the pavement, it’s still a pretty great road.
Here’s the start of the Drive drive –
The “Drive” Drive
By Joe Nick Patoski
ROUTE: West of Ozona to Sanderson
DISTANCE: 85 miles
NUMBER OF COUNTIES: 3
WHAT TO READ: James H. Evans’s Crazy From the Heat
A drive whose sole purpose is to experience the simple pleasure of being behind the wheel has a few requirements. The route must lead west, because that’s the story of Texas and America. The road must be off the beaten path and as free from traffic as possible. And the driver must have an open mind and an eye for discovery.
That’s why my favorite drive in Texas begins 23 miles west of Ozona, dipping south from Interstate 10, where the speed limit is 80 miles an hour but the landscape is so vast I feel like I’m hardly moving. Buttes and outcroppings covered with oak, mesquite, and prickly pear are interrupted by green river …
ROUTE: Turkey to Lubbock
(the long way)
DISTANCE: 366 miles
NUMBER OF COUNTIES: 13
WHAT TO LISTEN TO: Buddy Holly’s That’ll Be the Day and Waylon Jennings’s Ol’ Waylon
West Texas is the Texas of wide-open spaces, but it is also the Texas of music giants, starting in the Rolling Plains in the heart of red-dirt ranching country, not far from the 6666 and the Matador. The landscape is sparsely populated and visually powerful, and the sky is so big that only the most creative imagination can fill up the canvas. That was the case with James Robert Wills, who came from a farming family near Turkey and went on to become the King of Western Swing. That point is driven home at the Bob Wills Museum at the old Turkey grade school, where his life is recounted in phases through storyboards, photographs, and album covers.
Heading north from Turkey, …