Friday, April 17, 2015

driving through Texas

I have been fortunate to drive throughout Texas and see the diversified beauty of this great state.  Many times I have driven along I-10 from the eastern entrance in the Orange/Port Arthur area through Huston to San Antonio.  The far eastern regions have the bayous and swamps like Louisiana and then the vastness of the flat terrain unfolds.  But there are green trees and vegetation and although the terrain is flat, it does not look like a desert.  I have driven south from San Antonio along route 37 to Corpus Christi and Rockport.  Along the way I saw what a more coastal plain looks like with the short grasses covering the ground and then the arrival of the Gulf beaches.  I've driven along US 281 and some of the smaller rural routes in the Hill Country of Texas.  The rolling hills and greenery are absolutely beautiful and between the major cities of Austin and San Antonio there is so much to do here.  But, don't forget the smaller towns.  That is where all the "surprises" are.  Earlier this year I drove through northeastern Texas, entering the state from Louisiana along US 80 which runs roughly parallel to I-20.  I passed through the cities of Longview and Tyler along the way.  I headed southwest along route 31 towards Waco to avoid a major winter storm hitting Dallas/Ft. Worth.  That was a "white knuckler" drive as I was scared to death that I would encounter black ice on the road as darkness approached and the temperature sank to the freezing mark.  I may have held up the traffic behind me a bit but, quite frankly, I didn't care.  I drive according to the road conditions, not the speed limit!  I have driven in major city traffic jams and I have driven in very isolated areas.  Driving in West Texas along I-10 is one of those areas.  Once I left the Hill Country I encountered a great vast desert that is so isolated that it becomes a radio "dead zone".  The area has a beauty, though, with its starkness.  The mountains in the distance are intriguing.  However, as the sun set lower into the horizon and my destination for the night was still a couple of hours away I began to really feel the isolation of this place.  The sun set.  There were no lights from houses to be seen anywhere.  Only the stars were shining and what beauties they are!  I began to feel very small in the whole scheme of things, like a grain of sand in the universe.  Was I important?  Would I be missed?  Of course I would.  I just needed to confront those thoughts.  And, driving in this somewhat lonely (but lovely) place brought out those thoughts in me.  I just needed to say it.  And then on the horizon there was El Paso.  Recently I decided to drive in a different westerly direction through Texas by driving north and then west.  I left San Antonio and drove up routes 83 and 84 to Lubbock and then on to Amarillo.  Along the way I drove down into the Palo Duro Canyon.  Except for the canyon, this part of the West Texas panhandle is very flat.  No trees.  Nothing.  Just flatness.  I could easily visualize a cattle drive going through this area.  Just flatlands and open sky.  But the towns are thriving and filled with interesting things to see and do.  So far my travels through Texas have taken me along well traveled routes in the eastern part of the state to smaller state highways cutting through the countryside to the more desolate (but beautiful) areas of the western part of the state.  I've loved seeing all of what I've seen, so far.  I have had many opportunities to get off the interstate and explore the smaller towns along the way and I like that very much.  There is beauty everywhere.  And much more to explore.

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