FOR A TROUBLEMAKER, RICK MCLAREN COULDN’T have picked a better place for a standoff. Spring wildflowers hugged the edge of Texas Highway 166 outside Fort Davis, and deer and antelope played in the tall grasses of Marfa ranchland under an expanse of deep blue sky.
Indeed, for the seven days that McLaren and his armed Republic of Texas cohorts were holed up on his property at the Davis Mountains Resort, observers had their pick of mythic images, and none was more stirring than that of the uniformed Department of Public Safety troopers who manned the roadblock in the middle of a blacktop with the Davis Mountains rising dramatically behind them. The troopers and the scenery were effective in sending two messages to TV viewers around the world: (1) State authorities, not the feds, were in charge, which meant it would not be another Waco … probably; and (2) crazies or no crazies, far west Texas is a place of considerable beauty. After dark, not even the glare of the patrol cars’ headlights could obscure the fact that the stars really do shine brighter out there.
Less than one hundred yards away, the Point of Rocks roadside picnic area had been taken over by eighteen trucks fitted with satellite transmitters and close to one hundred reporters and crew members in search of a story.