It’s still there, and I’m in it.

Getting here was surprisingly easy. When you’re not having to fly a lot, first class isn’t as important as it becomes for the frequent flyer, and coach is perfectly adequate, especially when the flight is made short by an entertaining passenger in the adjacent seat.

The good news continued after my arrival at DFW. Ten minutes out of the airport, just at the Ft. Worth eastern city limits, I spotted a Whataburger® sign while there was still time to make the exit ramp. Double meat, no cheese, no fries, Diet Dr Pepper®. I’m easing into this cautiously.

But then as I approached exit 408 near Weatherford, I saw a billboard for Baker’s Barbeque, and I just knew in my heart this was the real thing. It was. And through a miracle of misunderstanding I ended up with only two ribs and thus did not gorge myself.

So then I headed for Midland in earnest. Near Abilene I was suddenly hit by a smell that brought with it a memory rush that nearly cost me control of the vehicle: sweet crude. Well, actually, this crude wasn’t totally sweet as there was definitely a hint of hydrogen sulfide to give it some character. Oh, that oilfield smell, a heady mixture of volatile esters and rich hydrocarbons, a smell underappreciated by folks who didn’t grow up in oil camps and thus as toddlers associate that smell with Daddy when he came home from work. That’s reinforcement.

Poor Marcel, having to make do with the smell of a dinky little almond cookie to evoke his memories. Not, of course, that there would be any comparison at all between us. Well, other than the inversion, and we don’t talk about that.

No indeed. Not in the Oil Patch.

Here’s some tanks out between Orla and Kermit (photographed on a different visit just in case anybody knows that those two towns are on the other side of Midland from DFW):

oil tanks

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