It’s not often I get to ride at night. I take extended rides on the weekends during the day. Like I’ve said before, the wife worries about me when I’m out and I don’t think she’d appreciate me being gone for hours at a time after sunset. So I relish the opportunity to fly down the highway under the night sky.
If you find yourself on I37 in Corpus, you’d be blind if you miss the rows of refineries along the interstate. Growing up with Captain Planet, an ozone layer crisis, and a recycling craze, the refineries made me fearful for the environment’s future. What is coming out of that smokestack, I used to wonder. It didn’t help that the refineries were right across from the old T-M Intermediate building, so I got a good look at them during recess. My classmates and I learned about sheltering in place in case of an “emergency.” I think we even had a real emergency in high school. I eventually came to understand how Citgo, Flint Hills, Valero and the others benefited our city, but those towers spewing fire and smoke still make me feel uneasy sometimes.
But those refineries at night are a sight to behold. I see a city from the future, like out of a sci-fi story. All uniformly colored, mazes of pipes, and cold, white light penetrating the night. I wish I could have gotten a pic or two from the flare up at Lyondell from a few weeks back. The sky looked like it was in a perpetual state of dusk. The roar from the fire made me think of some great beast, trapped beneath the “city,” yearning to break free.
I still refer to the Lyondell plant (which was OxyChem back in the day) as Narshe. That, my friends, is the starting town in Final Fantasy VI. I lived about a quarter-mile from it back in high school, around the time I started playing FFVI.
It’s sort of odd to think of refineries as futuristic cities as we look to other sources to fuel our energy-hungry world. Maybe oil is a thing of the past. Maybe we can find a simple solution to getting our energy that makes everyone happy. I’m not much for either side of that debate, but sometimes I like to wonder.