Wednesday, May 8, 2013

San Angelo, TX - A Taste of Mayberry

Tuesday was an interesting day.  We went to our favorite Whataburger for breakfast.  The usual crowd was there visiting and laughing.

Following a quick trip to the post office.  I had to send a prepaid return package.  I swear, so often I leave a post office shaking my head.  It is not surprising that it appears to be about the worst run business out there.  Although I think being able to send an ounce of mail from door stop to door stop for 46 cents is a bargain, I have a real problem with so many other facets of the operation.

When I took the package to the counter, the woman had just stepped up from being away.  With absolutely no personality she mumbled 'next'.   I gave her the package and with no comment she looked it over and said 'ok'.  I asked if I could get a tracking number so I could follow the progress and delivery.

She said "it's already paid for."
"Yes, I  know.  I just want to be able to track it."
"You will have to pay for it."
Thinking that maybe for a buck or two it would be worth it "How much would it cost?"
"You have to pay for shipping."
"What - in order to get a tracking number I have to completely pay for shipping again!?"
"Yes." No offer of an alternative or other options.
I had already pegged her as an example of what seems to be so commonly perceived of PO folks.   She lived up to that image except I could not see a gun...   At that point I would have been more surprised if she had offered an alternative.   Fortunately, my heart was saved from a shock and I left frustrated.  Hope the package arrives intact.    Sheesh...

Fortunately, that is the only negative example regarding the people of San Angelo.  We have become quite fond of this city.

One of our favorite spots is Rita's Book Exchange.  What a fun place.  Rita has put together an incredible inventory of used books.  She is a delight to visit with and absolutely knows her inventory.  Ask for a book and she knows if she has it and exactly where it is.  If it is not on the shelf, she goes to her warehouse and checks.  She said her warehouse has as many books as are on her shelve in the retail section.

Her customer's are equally fun and interesting.  New customers are instant family.  Everyone knows names and will take time to visit.  This bookstore feels like it was dropped out of Mayberry into San Angelo.  A perfect example of San Angelo.

Many of you probably know that this area of west Texas is in the midst of a huge oil boom.  Besides oil rigs, wind generators are popping up on all ridge lines.  Part of the business of erecting the wind generators is getting the parts to the site.  You've all seen the huge blades on the roads.  Some are as long as 185 feet!!

Transporting them requires pilot/escort vehicles.  I've noticed the pilot vehicles about town and finally cornered a driver at Rita's.  Brian Cunningham was happy to visit for a bit.  He told me a lot about the business.  With our trucking background I've often thought about a pilot operation.

Brian is from Hayword, WI.  He is out here transporting wind generator blades.  Right now business is taking a break and holding its breath due to the uncertainty of the economy and congress's inability to get its act together a la sequester.  He has found a lot of time on his hands the last few weeks and so has become quite a customer of Rita's.

I was surprised to learn that he actually steers the rear axles on the trailer of the truck via remote control in his van as he follows along.  I had no idea.  Given the length and that the blade extends 35 feet beyond the end of the trailer it makes perfect sense that the rear axles are steerable but I had no idea it was done from a separate vehicle.

When we were driving trucks we saw log trucks in Oregon that had a small compartment below the trailer directly in front of the rear axles with a man in a reclining position who steered.  His butt was literally inches off the road.  We were always glad that was not our job.  It had to be like a carnival ride every day, all day.  Whew!

Earlier in the week we went to the main library and had equally as good experiences.  Everyone was so friendly and accommodating.  Robin got a card and all set up for e-books on her Kindle.  We had a happy visit with the ladies running the checkout counter.  We asked if they were volunteers as they were so friendly and upbeat.  Nope - they just have fun at work!!!

We have noticed a trend in libraries - Coffee Shops!!!  How cool is that?   San Angelo's coffee shop opened up just this week.  We got a chocolate brownie sample.   Yummm.  I guess it was a good thing the sample was just a bite.  I was surely tempted to get a whole one but alas, my recent weight loss prevailed.  But, man was it good.

Robin had a little problem getting the e-book operation to work on her laptop.  The help desk fixed her up immediately.  Turns out there is a problem with her browser.

Anyway, all the positives of the town certainly outweigh the single negative.  If you pass through this area try to spend a day or two experiencing the people.  You won't be disappointed.

Today, Wednesday, we are up and getting ready to leave.  We are going north about 300 miles and will be spending the night at Palo Duro Canyon State Park.  We are excited to spend a day or two as we are slated for a two month stint in October and November.   We'll keep you posted....

San Angelo - definitely a place for "Chasin' Our Dreams!"