I really thought I wouldn’t have much to write about today. We awoke before the sun and began the excruciating drive east from El Paso to Austin. I’ve driven from El Paso to Dallas before and was sure I knew what to expect: hours upon hours of brown flat land. I remember years ago, falling asleep as a passenger on this stretch of road, only to awake again wondering if we had even moved.
I warned the kids. I even considered sedating them with chloroform (no, not really for those of you who really ARE Texans and don’t get the sarcasm.)
Our first stop was in a little town called Kent. My son needed to pee something fierce and was wincing and whining. Kent held up a beacon of hope for him with its many feet tall Chevron sign. But our hopes were dashed… the entire place was abandoned, including the Chevron. Anyone with a Texas map should scribble that town out of existence. It’s inhabited only by ghosts now. How very east Texas of it.
For those concerned for Robert’s well being, we did find another gas station a few miles up the road to relieve him of his urgent bladder. That one was like stepping into an episode of the Twilight Zone. I don’t think a thing had changed since the 50s.
The man behind the counter was shifty and carried a gun. He read a newspaper… who does that these days?
We eventually came to the splitting of the 10 freeway into the 20 freeway to Dallas and the 10 freeway we would continue on toward Austin. And here is where I have to publicly apologize to the great people of Texas. For over 15 years now I have been complaining whenever someone mentions Texas that it is nothing but ugly, brown, flat and boring. Boy, was I wrong.
The 20 began to show some… green. Could it be? Could there be green in Texas?
And then, we turned off on the 290 and the 281 and … wow. The green rolled for miles and miles. So much so that my poor car-sick son threatened to ruin what had become a very fun little trip with a hurl. It was, dare I say it, picturesque.
By the time we rolled into town, the kids were a little car crazy. They giggled at anything I said and we all felt exhausted. At the final stoplight I noticed something I had not seen on the entire journey: A Texas state trooper, paused at the light to the right of us. I pointed him out and my daughter didn’t skip a beat in correcting me, “Mom! Don’t be silly. That isn’t the police. That’s a pizza delivery guy!” She was serious. Apparently Texas also does not look like a police state.
Tomorrow our host is determined to show us the most beautiful things in Austin. I’ll take pictures.