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A Texas Two Step

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Loving County gains in census count!
The Gazette Staff
Alright, they only gained 15 people, for a grand total of 82. Currently, that makes Loving, out in far West Texas the smallest county in the nation in terms of population. Loving is quite large, geographically, but still has the fewest residents, at least until the numbers come in for Molokai on Hawaii.
Texas as a whole had huge gains since the previous census in 2000. Over the decade, the Lone Star State added 4.5 million people, largely along the Interstate 35 corridor and Interstate 10 between Houston and San Antonio. Texas now has a population of 25.1 million and a diverse economy that is relatively healthy compared to the rest of the nation.
I occasionally have to explain to people planning to visit that Texas is very diverse geographically. They seem to think the entire state is one endless expanse of cactus, mesquite and desert punctuated by the occasional tumbleweed. This is understandable given the images of the state that often appear in the movies and on television.
Personally, I love the West Texas geography - its Big Sky Country at its best. My husband and I often vacationed "out west" and enjoyed rolling through tiny picturesque communities such as Happy, Texas and Turkey, Texas, out in the Panhandle. We once drove through Loving County and I don't recall seeing a soul - just plenty of sky, great stretches of empty land, and occasionally, some oil wells rhythmically pumping away.
Once, out in the spectacular scenery around Fort Davis, we even thought of moving out there. We actually looked at a couple of old territorial styles houses. The yard featured only cacti in dusty soil. The road was a dirt road and the only sidewalks in town were boardwalks on the main street.
We discarded the idea when we realized that the nearest doctor or dentist was 200 miles away!
Visitors are often surprised by East Texas. About one hour out of Dallas, the landscape changes - from flat black soil to the rolling hills and reddish soils of East Texas. Lakes and forests abound. The ranches are somewhat smaller than the giant cattle operations one sees between Austin and San Antonio that seem to go on for miles. Diary cattle are not uncommon here and the annual rainfall is somewhat higher than in Central or West Texas, a boon to the livestock ranchers.
Years ago, some relatives from Canada came to visit us in Dallas. They wanted to see the space center at Houston then visit San Antonio. We lent them a car and they went merrily on their way. It was near the end of June and very hot.
One evening we got a call from them after they reached San Antonio, where it was even hotter. They said they thought the bridge signs were funny. We asked them what bridge signs they were referring to.
They said "The ones that say ‘Watch for ice on bridges'."
In Canada, when winter settles in, it stays for almost seven months. They hadn't realized that the climate in Texas changes every ten minutes. Today, its over 70 degrees but two weeks ago, we indeed had ice on the bridges, and might soon again.
Wood County is growing although the final 2010 numbers aren't out in detail yet, and its towns and cities are bustling.
But out in little Loving County, its still a 23-mile drive to the nearest grocery store, located in Pecos and a trip to the mall means a 77-mile ride to either Odessa, Texas or Carlsbad, New Mexico. But to Loving's 82 residents, its just part of life in what they see as a little piece of Paradise where peace and quiet truly reign.