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During my life’s sojourn of 43 years on the West Texas Plains, I have – after painstaking thought and profound experiences – come to realize that I am now a proud native of my homeland.

I chose to stay on these hardscrabble lands, like the pioneers who came here to make a life, to find a vocation and an avocation, and to live in grace and appreciation for somewhere to call home. After years of wanting to leave, I decided to give up my wanderlust, determined to stay, and I created a nesting place – the wind-swept, ancient, amazing, wide-open, independent, rugged and beautiful West Texas.

During this internal struggle, while I saw friends come and go from West Texas, I converted some to loving the land here, by taking them out to the canyons, the horizons, the dirt roads of tall cornfields, the funky places in small town Texas, the characters one meets along the way, and the unique and exceptional beauty of this place, West Texas. Here, on the Llano Estacado, the flattest geographical formation in the world, visitors often wonder what exists out there that is so beautiful, what is so enticing to the sight, what is out there to SEE when no landmarks are visible?

Upon my many outings, I found in myself a renewed appreciation for the idea of “place,” and I realized that the point of life is not where one lives, but how one lives. Seeing a landscape takes a patient eye, a vision of searching for the beauty that exists in and of itself, it in its own context, in all of nature.

Since my parents first gave me a 35-mm camera for my high school graduation in 1979, I have captured the many travels I’ve taken across rugged lands to special places, to those sacred sites of Mammoths, Bison, Amerinds, Conquistadors, and Settlers where human history and natural history emerge. From the Panhandle to the Big Bend, I have followed the Caprock, investigating and hiking the canyons, sleeping outside in open Mesquite-filled prairies with the coyotes and owls, listening for the sound of the seasons in photographing this place, my home.

I offer my 25 years’ of intense observations in WEST TEXAS 25.

-- Kippra D. Hopper