4360 Miles in 126 Hours

Troy Paiva

7) Day Four- Texas Hot

The next morning is bright and hot. I arise late, missing out on the free “continental breakfast” of stale convenience-store donuts and coffee. The last tenant to leave the motel, I head south once more, back toward Texas.

Zig-zagging through the endless oilfields, I eventually find my way to Odessa and Midland, Siamese-twin cities ringed with bypass expressways. Their sprawl goes on, mile after mile. It seems I haven't seen anything taller than a 50-foot hill for several days. It's 105º and cloudy and I begin to understand the expression “Texas hot.” Thousands of oil derricks sprout from the ground, stretching to the horizon in every direction. Their steel grasshopper heads bob slowly, hypnotic in the shimmering heat-haze.

The night's photography in Penwell and Monahans goes smoothly. The abandoned buildings and machines saturate with my flash and the moonlight, predictably absorbing the light. A few clouds move through, smearing across the frame. Trying some different lighting looks and exposures, I get lost in the flow of my work, forgetting how far away from home I am.