Author Archives: Larry Gfeller

Back Roads Nature–Copper Breaks State Park

As morning came around, the clouds lifted to reveal a coral dawn. I looked closely at the arroyos and gullies of Copper Breaks State Park—I couldn’t believe my eyes. Who would ever think to make a public park of such broken badlands and mesas, peppered with copses of cedar trees?  Shouldn’t they call it “cedar breaks?”  But upon closer examination (and a little reading) it all came clear.  Among these eroded channels, all barren and lunar, you can clearly make out the gray-green streaks of raw copper running… Read More →

A Conundrum: Dynamic Crowd Control

Here’s a little story about two guys and a true marvel of nature. Its early afternoon in Texas and the sun is like a burning coin, sharing the sky with a smear of high wispy clouds. Two friends are making their way across a grassy knoll, talking quietly when a mesmerizing fog of black birds rises up before them and nearly blots out the sun. Startled, Shorty screams, “Whoa. . ! Look, Jim, there must be a thousand birds—what the hell is happening?” The huge blob shape-shifts in… Read More →

Back Roads Nature–Caprock Canyons State Park

Miles and miles of endless horizon on the Texas panhandle, the prairie spreads away flat and featureless to nowhere. Then, suddenly, the landscape transforms into a menagerie of cliffs and monoliths and distant vistas, melted into warm earth tones under the steady smash of the sun. As they pick their way down the scree, leather saddles creak, stones and pebbles rain down ahead of them and thick dust rises up.  Big, haunchy stallions with eyes like cue balls lash their tails back and forth during the nervous descent…. Read More →

A Problem For Helen

Lurking underground . . . in an exceptionally crafted lair. The ingenious trap door is so perfectly camouflaged as to be indistinguishable from surrounding turf. An inch within the cavern, as daylight sparkles through the cracks, his eyes appear lanterns burning with unholy oil. Careful not to make a single sound, barely breathing, waiting. Further back in the tunnel are corpses wrapped and compressed, as though they’ve been put though a micro bailing machine—an extended mausoleum where Dracula’s silky evil serves as coffins for an assortment of insects…. Read More →

Back Roads Nature–Possum Kingdom State Park

In Spanish it means “The River of the Arms of God.” Emerging from New Mexico, the Brazos River rambles for 1,280 miles across Texas, empting itself into the Gulf of Mexico. It cuts a wide arc and serves as the informal dividing line between east Texas and the rest of the state. It’s dammed in only three places.  The first of these, just north of Waco, forms Possum Kingdom Lake, a basin that spreads like 20,000 acres of liquid metal over 300 miles of endless shoreline. Among the… Read More →