Interlude: Welcome to Texas

I like Texans.

It's Texas I'm not crazy about.

Well...it's fine once you get where you're going. As long as where you're going is in East Texas. I've had lots and lots of fun in Texas. (East Texas, anyway.) It's the getting there that stinks.

Trackless highway.

Sound like a contradiction in terms? Obviously, you haven't driven across Texas. As we drive and drive and drive and we're still crossing Texas, I imagine I know how Columbus's sailors felt. I feel like eating my shoe. Driving across the length of Texas feels like being becalmed at sea with no land in sight. You know you're moving ... but you don't seem to be getting nearer anything. The scenery is unchanging. There are no mountains by which to measure progress, yet nothing gives even the illusion of impeding progress: there is nothing one has to drive around. There is mostly flat expanse and straight road, to every vanishing point. I keep flashing on scenes from Lawrence of Arabia, particularly the one where Omar Sharif first appears as a speck in the distance, and rides & rides towards the camera but doesn't seem to get any closer.

That's what it's like to travel in Texas. Except no one would make a movie about it.

Driving through Texas makes one wonder what stereotypical "yee-haw"-type Texans are so proud of. Driving through Texas makes one wonder what they'd be like if their state looked like Alaska, instead of like Texas. What's so great about this countryside? Double-wides and oversized machinery? To me it's a whole lotta sky & not much else. I think the signs that say "Welcome to Texas" should say "This is Texas--You're More Than Welcome To It."

It baffles me why anyone settled here in frontier times. Seems like somewhere along the way someone would have told them that if they just kept going west, they'd run smack into some nice beachfront property. I realize people didn't surf back then. But I'm pretty sure that even then water must have had a certain appeal.

To judge by their yards (those beside the highway, anyway), the descendants of those who settled in Central Texas seem to hang onto anything that might come in handy ... someday. The rule seems to be, hoard anything that someone might want to take a picture of ... someday. Who knows--an archaeologist might wander by a couple thousand years from now, and that old tractor seat might make a dandy postcard. Another salient feature of Central Texas is that every town we drive through has prominently displayed signs guiding travellers to their town cemetary. Central Texas may not have much but it does have a whole lot of dead Texans.

But Texas isn't as backwards as some people say. For example, I saw an exit sign for Arnot--not "Ain't," as one might expect. Texans appear to have had a little fun with some of their town names. Maybe they were trying to lure European settlers with town names such as Paris and Rhome. And maybe it worked; it worked with Leif Erickson's whole "Greenland" scam.

Hmmm ... a Viking/Texan connection. Maybe that explains the attraction Texas seems to hold for Wagner. And for a certain crew of Germans....




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