Driving into Far West Texas, I always have the same thought: What kind of people pioneered this land? Who was it that pulled up stakes from relative comfort and security back east to settle this God-forsaken land? The great writer William Faulkner has one of his characters say this about Texas, “That bourne for the implicated, the insolvent or the merely hopeful.” And Texas writer A.C. Greene put it this way: “People who do not like West Texas frequently cannot like West Texans. The land is too powerful in them and it is an excessive land.”
That excessive land makes one think of driving on the moon. At times the land seems as barren and bleak as the moon, but in its own way bold and beautiful. Heading out toward El Paso, you enter a geologic region called “Basin and Range”. The idea is simple and immense: a series of mountains (range) with valleys (basin) in between, stretching from Texas (Davis Mountains, Franklin Mountains), through much of New Mexico, half of Arizona, all of Nevada, passing through California, Utah, Oregon and thrusting deep into Idaho. John McPhee wrote a fascinating book called Basin and Range, well worth reading.
The above illustration of Basin and Range is from the United States Geological Survey
The above illustration of Basin and Range in Texas is from University of Texas at Permian Basin Center for Energy and Economic Diversification