My cousins and I took a road trip to Hot Springs, AR. None of us had ever been and for one of us, Bonnie, the trip helped her to scratch off one of her bucket list items: to have visited all fifty states.
We are six first cousins ranging in age from 52 to 70. All girls. There were no boys in our generation, much to my paternal grandfather's disappointment; he had hoped for a grandson to carry on the family name. (We now have two generations after us and the boys far outnumber the girls. It currently stands at 14 to 5.) The eighteen-year span in our ages, along with a ten year gap between cousin number three and yours truly, had the three oldest out of college, married and raising kids while the three youngest were in or barely out of elementary school.
Two years ago at a family reunion to celebrate my aunt's 90th birthday, we went to dinner away from everyone else. We had such a good time that we struck a bargain to get together in two more years. With my own mother's 90th birthday coming up, that seemed like the perfect excuse to throw a party for her and afterwards take off on a road trip to somewhere.
On Monday morning (June 15) we left Dallas for Hot Springs. The region is abundantly spotted with natural springs and pools that produce water heated to a very toasty 143 degrees, on average. Despite the name --- it's not Lukewarm Springs or Tepid Pools --- and despite the fact that you can see the steam rising from the water's surface, even on warm days, people stupidly stick their hand, foot, or some other body part into the water, only to jump back and exclaim:
Like Barnum said, There's a sucker born every minute.
Here's an interesting bit of trivia for you to amaze your friends with: the water currently bubbling out of the various springs came from rain that fell in the region 4400 years ago. If you need some perspective, this was about when the Egyptians were building the pyramids. It takes that long for rain to make the circuit from the clouds back to the surface as spring water. How they figure these things out, I'll never know.
People, namely the local Indians, visited the springs for thousands of years for their supposed curative powers. Then the white man came along and decided to make money off what Mother Nature had been providing for free. The result was Bathhouse Row, eight independently operated bathhouses situated on the east side of Central Avenue, below the so-called Grand Promenade, a paved walkway that meanders in the hills above the buildings. From south to north they are Lamar, Buckstaff, Ozark, Quapaw, Fordyce, Maurice, Hale and Superior. The Fordyce is now a museum, the Superior is a restaurant and brewery, while the Quapaw is a millennial take on the bathhouse experience. Only the Buckstaff, built in 1912, still operates much like it did in its heyday in the 30's.
As the saying goes, When in Rome do as the Romans do. So I decided to shed my inhibitions and drop my drawers for a visit to the Buckstaff. Here's a very bad picture of the place:
That's the only picture you will get because the Buckstaff won't allow its patrons to take photos inside, for obvious reasons.
I arrived shortly after 8:00 AM. After filling out a card and paying $33.00 for the basic package, I was escorted up to the second floor via elevator to the women's facilities. At the Buckstaff, the sexes do not mix. The attendant took me to a small changing room equipped with a chair and a locker. I was told to take everything off, stow it in the locker, and keep the key on my person at all times. When I was dressed in nothing but my grown-up birthday suit, the attendant came back with a large white sheet. While I faced away from her, she wrapped the sheet around me toga-style. I noticed immediately that the sheet, while clean, was kind of threadbare, and as I moved from station to station, the sheet got progressively wetter and wetter and what had been opaque became translucent. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
I was handed off to another woman who was to be my bathing attendant. Her name was Julie and she was young and fit. I was hoping for a matronly 250-pounder so I could feel better about my own flab being on display, but I figured Julie had probably seen every shape and size of boob and booty there is, and my own figure, while not the best, is certainly far from the worst.
The first order of business was to tell Julie I was extremely hard of hearing, and to be sure and face me when talking so I could read her lips. Bless her heart. Instead of talking normally, she enunciated each word as if I was not only deaf, but not too swift in the head, either. It was fine, but I had to laugh when her reply to my question about the water temperature was accompanied by hand gestures: ONE (holds up one finger), OH (makes circle with her hand), THREE (holds up three fingers). I said OK (makes universal OK gesture).
Once we got the communications squared away, Julie took me into my own personal bathing suite. This consisted of a big white enameled tub already filled with water, a chair, a small wooden step stool, and a motor thingy --- like a miniaturized Evinrude outboard. I stepped onto the little stool, handed over my modesty, and lowered myself gingerly into the tub. Lemme tell ya, ONE OH THREE is AITCH OH TEE. Had Julie not been there watching, I would have taken more time getting acquainted with the environs, one toe at a time, but my desire to cover myself, even if it was only clear water, was stronger, so I plunged in.
The next order of business was to languidly stretch out, as I'd seen the model do in the advertisement:
But this was impossible because the tub was longer than my 5 ft, 7 in and I couldn't get a grip with my toes at the far end. The result was that I bobbed around on the surface like a dead fish until Julie got some rolled towels anchored beneath my neck and upper back. Once I was stabilized, she whipped out another towel, dipped it into the bathwater and wrapped one long end around my neck, so that only my head was sticking out. Julie pointed to the clock on the wall and made me to understand that this torture was to last TWO OH minutes. Her last act before disappearing, presumably to someplace cooler, like Siberia, was to turn on the mini-Evinrude lurking at the far end of the tub. I'd forgotten all about this gadget in my quest to get anchored down. This was the 30's version of the Jacuzzi and the terrific onslaught of bubbles at my feet very nearly turned me over. I bet Julie goes home with at least one hilarious story to tell the family over dinner each night.
TWO OH minutes is a long time in ONE OH THREE. As I watched the clock hands creep slowly around, I was reminded of an online review I read about the Buckstaff the morning we left for Hot Springs. One lady had given the place a poor rating because, she claimed, her attendant had forgotten about her in the bath. I sincerely hoped Julie didn't forget me.
The next station was a lie down in a room with several cots. Julie placed a bolster under my knees and OH! blessed relief! a cold wet towel on my head and around my face. I think one is expected to relax at this point, but I had a hard time zoning out for wondering what new devilment was awaiting me. This turned out to be hot packs, or more precisely hot wet towels, placed under my back, on my chest, stomach, and one around each leg. This was much more bearable because the towels quickly cooled off, unlike the bath water. Another cold towel for my head and face also helped. If you don't believe time is relative, trust me when I say twenty minutes on the cot zipped by compared to twenty minutes in the bath.
The next order of business was a short walk to the steam cabinet. The victim walks inside, turns and sits down. The attendant shuts the door in front and brings down two flaps that leave only your head sticking out, while hot steam assaults the rest of you. This was a five minute ordeal made bearable because I could at least look out and see the activity going on in the room. Ladies were being led into tub enclosures and out of them, everyone discreetly toga'ed up in sheets. It was obvious that more than a few had been there and done that; they were wearing flip-flops or shower shoes. I wished I'd thought of that.
After the steam cabinet, I was led to the sitz bath. At this point my sheet is soaking wet and sticking to me in all the wrong places, but what the hell. It's hard to describe the sitz bath. It looks like an ordinary shower stall except one side of the floor humped up in a gentle hill. Julie once again removed my sheet and helped me sit down with my legs over the hump and jutting outside, while my business end was uncomfortably immersed in more ONE OH THREE action. She considerately gave me a towel to cover the girls. It was about this time that I realized there were no hand-holds in the place. None. Zilch. Nada. The Buckstaff is run by the National Park Service and you'd think that entity, being part of the guvmint, would have grab bars, rubber mats and printed warnings in six-inch high letters covering all the available wall space. Signs like CAUTION! And SLIPPERY WHEN WET! And NO RUNNING! As I sitzed and sizzled, I contemplated just how in the heck I was going to get into a standing position with no grab bars, a slippery floor and worse, no clothes. Julie came to my rescue once again (she was freakishly strong) and it was off to the needle shower.
Slippery is one of those words that looks weird the longer you stare at it.
Anyway, call me crazy, but I had it in my head that the needle shower would be 1) cold'ish and, 2) sharp and needle-like. It was warm and there was hardly any water pressure in the shower heads. I didn't actually count, but I think there were six heads, all aiming for different parts and doing a poor job of it. Two minutes of that and Julie was back with a fresh dry sheet and a clean towel. My bathhouse ordeal was now over and it was back to the changing room.
I was so hot the last thing I wanted to do was get dressed. Cooling off was necessary, but with no A/C that was problematic. The windows were open and fans were running, so I stood in front of one of the second story windows in my threadbare toga with a fan blowing on me for a few minutes. It wasn't much help. I had renewed appreciation for what folks had to deal with in the days before air conditioning. I always liked what Harper Lee, in her book To Kill a Mockingbird, had to say about how the ladies in Maycomb were like "...soft teacakes with frostings of sweat and sweet talcum." Well, this lady was nothing like a teacake. My hair was in wet strings, my face was beet red, and my deodorant had given up the good fight and died in the steam tank.
Would I do it again? You betcha. And a Swedish massage, too.
Don't forget the flip-flops,
Paris Hilton: when you make a sex tape, you are public domain, IMHO. Idiot.
Lady bather: http://www.buckstaffbaths.com/services.html
NOTE: I started this two weeks ago and then got distracted playing Candy Crush.
We, meaning Richard, Mitch and I, decided to spend the Labor Day holiday in Louisiana visiting Brent. Paige was miffed that she didn't get an invite, but being way out west in Lubbock and into her first week of classes, it really wasn't feasible.
Floating on the Aggies' miraculous 52 - 28 win against South Carolina the night before (Johnny WHO?), we left mid-morning on the last Friday in August and drove the five hours east and south to Leesville and Fort Polk, much of that in a wet drizzle. Brent was waiting for us with a fully stocked bar, and a townhouse that was quite a change from the empty one we'd toured in March after his redeployment. He'd bought furniture, all very masculine, and very tasteful. No posters of half-naked girls, no beer bottle collection like his father had, tho' I do suspect the plastic folding table that was covered with a nice cloth and used for dining during our visit, moonlights as a beer pong table. The reason I know this is because I found three ping pong balls lurking in a small box on the kitchen counter.
Earlier in the week, Richard and I had a disagreement over what to fix for Friday night's dinner. He wanted to grill steaks; I wanted something more southern, like shrimp and grits. He said the boys wouldn't like grits, which I took to mean that he didn't like grits, or at least the way I prepare them, so I said, "You and your steaks can KISS MAH GRITS!" in my best Flo the Waitress voice. In the end, the steaks persevered. It's difficult for a lone female to compete with three males and their need for bloody meat.
My only contribution to dinner was a horseradish cream sauce, something that is normally served with prime rib, but what the heck. The problem here was that Brent's kitchen is devoid of all but the most basic kitchen tools, so I was forced to whip the cream by hand. It took roughly 40 minutes. Just as I was starting to give it up as a bad job, it began thickening. It's stuff like this that makes me wonder how certain things came to be, like whipped cream. I mean, what would possess someone to sit down with a bowl of fresh cream and start beating the hell out of it? And keep in mind, this was before electricity.
As it turned out, the four expensive filets de boeuf we bought from our favorite butcher cooked to perfection. This led to some intense discussion as to WHY they were so good, because, in all honesty, Richard's grilling technique is a tad spotty. Brent opined that it was probably his tiny Weber grill. The chef said he thought it was because he bought choice instead of prime. I chalked it up to luck and getting the coals just right. Mitch had no opinion because he subsists on Taco Bell five days a week. Brent was even nice enough to compliment my horseradish cream sauce, tho' by serving time it was a bit watery and broken down from not getting a proper whipping.
Bedtime was problematic, as it nearly always is when one sleeps with Richard. Being just this side of stone deaf, I always thought I'd make the perfect wife for a man who snores. Instead, I married Richard who jerks, twitches, spasms, and flops all night long. And at Brent's, for the first time in decades, we were faced with the prospect of sleeping in a double bed. Our newlywed bed was a double, but 34 years ago we were both a lot skinnier. Needless to say, for one of us it wasn't a restful night.
Saturday we drove to Natchitoches, about an hour or so north of Leesville. Despite its spelling, Natchitoches is pronounced NACK-a-tish, for some unfathomable reason, and is the oldest town in Louisiana, founded in 1714. If you've never been, you really should visit. In fact, I have decided that this is where I want to retire, even if it means having to put up with the scores of LSU and Saints fans that are everywhere in this state. Richard wasn't nearly so receptive to this idea, and the boys looked at me as if I'd grown horns, especially Brent. He can't wait to get out of Louisiana and here was his mother talking about moving in.
We spent the afternoon wandering around the downtown area and doing the tourist bit. Downtown fronts the Cane River, and is a smaller and much cleaner version of the French Quarter. During lunch, a real live monk walked into the premises and headed for the bar. He was decked out in a brown robe, sandals, a rope belt, and a tonsure. I was so enthralled with this time traveler straight out of the medieval ages, that I didn't even think to snap his picture. The restaurant staff seemed to take his presence for granted, so maybe there is a monastery somewhere in the area.
After our encounter with Friar Tuck, we went across the street to a public garden, Beau Jardin. Here are some photos:
It was another drizzly day and while it was not hot, it was very muggy. Looking to get into some air-conditioning for a couple of minutes, Richard and I moseyed unsuspectingly through a modest door and into the wonderland that is:
This is one of those places you have to see to believe. Hardware, kitchenware, household goods, toys, CLOTHES. Perhaps buoyed by his culinary success, Richard kept wandering over to the BBQ section and stealing looks at a Big Green Egg on display. I was busy going back and forth between the kitchenware and the toys. One could easily lose a whole afternoon lost in a trip down memory lane:
I could not resist purchasing these measuring spoons. I mailed them to my daughter to give to Texas Tech's executive chef (she works with him), as I thought Dewey would get a kick out of them. Notice the amounts: smidgen, dash and pinch. Now we know what grandma was talking about in those cryptic recipes that never gave precise measurements:
After a stop at a local bar to wet our whistles — I had ONE drink, it is important that you know this — we headed back to Leesville. A little two-lane highway, 117, connects the towns. I wrote about our first excursion down this road from hell in the black of night, and the numerous deer grazing alongside, and how wound up I got for thinking one of the animals would get it into its head to leap in front of the car. One collision with a deer, and you are scarred for life, trust me on this. This time it's dusk, happy hour for those in the Cervidae family. I am in the back seat trying not to hyperventilate, and wishing we had some kind of deer radar, like the thingymabobs people use to alert them to speed traps. Sure enough, I spy with my eagle eye two deer, perhaps 100 yards ahead on the left. I did what one does in such circumstances: I yelled, "Watch out for the deer!", screwed my eyes shut, and braced for impact. When nothing happened, I cracked open an eye. The car was stopped, Mitch had turned in the driver's seat and was glaring at me, and the deer I'd seen were actually two mailboxes. I have a feeling I'm not going to live that one down.
Musta been a heckuva strong drink,
A little more of a little of this, a little of that...
We have been on the road every weekend for the last seven weekends, plus a mid-week journey to Lawton, OK in September. By my husband's calculations, we tripped the light fantastic some 4650 miles, not counting just plain running around once we got to our destinations. (For example, while in Gulf Shores, we had to make a 22 mile round trip every time we went into town for supplies or dinner.) If you add to that trips to College Station and Lubbock in August, it's another 1000 miles. I have no desire to know how many gallons of irreplaceable fossil fuel we burned, or how much that cost us at an average of $3.50 a pop. Here's our tour schedule:
2012 -- Old Farts Whirled Tour -- 2012
Richard did most of the driving while I fiddled with the a/c (70% of the time), slept or zoned out (remaining 30%). Richard also managed to get pulled over on three separate occasions, and each time got off with a warning. The first time was in Oklahoma for having a burned out light bulb, see picture above, which we keep forgetting to get fixed. The second time was for driving FIVE MILES OVER THE SPEED LIMIT (limit was 70) outside Jacksboro, TX. The third, and hopefully final time, was last night, again for speeding (12 miles over) near Jewett, TX. The cop was sitting on the other side of Highway 79 as we zipped past. Even before the lights began flashing, I knew we were doomed. I'm still amazed he managed to talk himself out of that one.
Thankfully, we aren't going anywhere for the next three weekends, which will be a relief for our poor car. And our cats, who know they are being ditched when they see the suitcases hauled out, or the coolers filled. Besides, getting up at 3:00 AM to hit the road by 5:00 gets old very quickly.
A young Aggie couple we know is getting married the end of November. The invitation arrived in the mail last week and it very clearly says formal attire. I wasn't sure if the bride really meant formal as in tuxes and gowns, or if this was her way of insuring that no one shows up at her wedding wearing anything less than a suit or dress.
We have been appalled at what some people seem to consider appropriate wedding attire. I will never forget seeing a man in shorts and flip-flops. His female companion was better dressed, but only just; she wore cropped pants and Crocs. This was a nice wedding and I almost went over there and said, "Are you poor or are you stupid?" Stupid, I should think. Even poor people can manage a dress and a cheap suit. And it's not just weddings that seem to bring out the worst dressed in people, funerals are another. I've seen folks show up looking like they'd been shopping at Wal-Mart. At the last service I attended, I felt I'd overdone it in my black and grey dress with a black blazer and black heels.
Anyway, at our tailgate yesterday I cornered Brittany, the bride-to-be, to get the lowdown on what she meant by formal attire. I was glad I asked because now I've got to corral Richard into getting fitted for a tux. Fortunately, I have a formal gown. Unfortunately, it's been a few years since I last wore it, and I'm not sure it fits anymore. Since I don't want to spend the money on another one-and-done outfit, especially so close to the holidays, it will be an impetus to lose a few pounds.
Being prone to teasing, something I inherited from my dad, I told Brittany I thought a baby-blue tuxedo with a frilly ruffled shirt and navy cumberbund and bow tie would be awesome. She didn't crack so much as a smile. She either has no sense of humor, or one is not allowed to poke fun when it comes to her wedding. Like the signs that tell you not to joke about guns and bombs while going through airport security.
Speaking of dress, Brent drove in from Lawton last Friday night to go to the Aggie game with us on Saturday. He showed up at the door at 7:30 PM still wearing his camos and boots. Poor guy was so anxious to get out of Oklahoma, he didn't even take the time to change his clothes for the drive home. Still and all it was cool to see him decked out in uniform, and he wears it so well.
Paige turned 20 on Saturday. One more year and she will be truly legal, not that being underage has ever stopped her, or her brothers, from stepping over the line.
Mitch's girlfriend was in town over the weekend, and the two of them spent Friday at the state fair, the same day Big Tex, the iconic giant man who has greeted fair visitors for 60 years, burned to death. Authorities believe the fire was started by an electrical short, but I have my suspicions. You ask me, I think the people who invent all the crazy fair food from fried butter to fried Coke and even fried bubblegum, got together and said, "Hey! Let's fry Big Tex!" "Oops!"
Liar, liar, pants on fire,
Burning man: http://interactives.kxan.com/photomojo/gallery/4757/1/iconic-bix-tex-burns/bix-tex-burns/
Traumatized kiddos: http://www.democraticunderground.com/10021581663
Body bag: http://www.democraticunderground.com/10021581663
I awoke this morning anticipating the dawn of another gorgeous day at the beach. Sadly, instead of a view of white sand and blue-green water and puffy cotton candy clouds, I was treated to a wide-angle of the elliptical machine my husband and I bought in a fit of lunacy. How depressing. Richard and I decided to cram in a much needed and well deserved week off, just the two of us, no kids, other relatives, or cats allowed. Initially, we talked about going to Washington, DC, but the thought of having to get up at the crack of dawn every morning to hit the pavement to see the sights was too much like work. We needed something relaxing with no fixed itinerary beyond when and what to eat. We thought about a cruise, but we've done a few of those. Las Vegas got some consideration, but as fun as Vegas is, we'd been there and done that. Colorado got some airtime, and the idea of cool mountain temps was alluring, but we have family in Colorado and this was supposed to be about the two of us, not nineteen and counting.
Three years ago we wanted to take the kids on a beach vacation and we set our sights on Gulf Shores. Since we are sadly deficient in relatives or friends with beach homes in the area, I settled in for a long visit with Google. After hours and hours of clicking here and there, linking to this and that, I stumbled on a resort called Martinique on the Gulf. From the pictures, it looked perfect and I booked a house for the five of us in July. Shortly before we were due to leave, Richard was abruptly laid off from his job and we were forced to cancel the vacation. We hated disappointing the kids, but we couldn't justify spending thousands of dollars on fun and sun, when the future was rapidly turning dark and gloomy. Fortunately, we were lucky and Richard quickly bounced back on his feet with another job.
The following summer we tried again. This time, I booked a beach side condo at Martinique instead of one of the houses a block or so inland. Then disaster struck --- literally --- when the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded in the Gulf killing and injuring workers and kick starting the largest offshore oil spill in U. S. history.
At first we weren't concerned. This was April and we weren't due in Gulf Shores until July; surely the leak would be capped and everything cleaned up nice and tidy in time for our trip. But as the weeks dragged on, and the oil continued to spill, it became apparent we were going to have to make a decision: do we take the chance and go, and hope the water and beaches are clean? or do we cut our losses and cancel AGAIN? And if we cancelled, what would we replace it with? We couldn't disappoint the kids two years in a row. After a lot of shilly-shallying, we regretfully decided to find another beach. Since it was the eastern portion of the Gulf that was getting hit with the black sludge, we concentrated on the western parts. Mexico was out; nobody cared to be caught in a drug cartel crossfire, so South Padre Island became our new vacation destination.
Once more I started Googling, and this time it was difficult finding a place to stay. All the likely looking spots were taken, having been booked months ago. I kept at it and finally found a beach side high rise condominium complex that, while it was nothing like the gorgeous condo I had rented in Gulf Shores, certainly wasn't a hovel, either. Regardless, we went and had a great time. The kids went parasailing and played tennis, and we all took a ride on one of the inflatable banana boats. This was also when my daughter got her belly button pierced.
Back to the present, we decided to aim once more for Gulf Shores and the Martinique resort, hoping the third time would be the charm. Since it was just the two of us, we didn't need the big three bedroom unit I had rented in 2010, so we went with one of the smaller ones instead.
We left Dallas at 5:00 AM last Monday morning for the eleven-hour drive to coastal Alabama. It rained buckets the entire way; I think we saw more rain that one day than we've seen in the last two years. Here's a photo I took of the windshield, somewhere in Mississippi:
It was so bad, Richard got his chauvinist pig on and refused to let the little woman anywhere near the steering wheel, brakes, accelerator, or other functioning car parts. He was tense from trying to peer through the curtain of rain, and I was grumpy from fighting him for control of the a/c. It was not an auspicious start, and it got me to wondering if there was some kind of curse on Gulf Shores; like the Big Travel Agent in the Sky was saying, "I tried to keep you away, but noooooooo...you just had to go. Fine. Enjoy a week of typhoons. That'll teach you. Jerks."
After three years of trying and not getting anywhere, we finally turned the key in the lock of our Martinique home away from home:
We didn't make it to the beach on Monday. It was too late for surf side frolicking, even if the weather had been good. Instead, we settled in and then drove into town for dinner and supplies. Tuesday dawned gloriously (see the very top photo), but it squalled off and on throughout the day. Even so, we managed to get in some beach time. The waves were rough and choppy and I lost my hat. Too bad about the hat, but I like to imagine a sea turtle, or maybe a big grouper, wearing my Aggie hat and singing the War Hymn.
The rest of the week was perfect. The sea was so calm, it was like being in the world's biggest swimming pool, and the water was crystal clear. So clear that on several occasions I could see something big and dark headed in my general direction, accompanied by the soundtrack from "Jaws". It was probably nothing more menacing than a school of small fish, but, wussy that I am, I wasn't brave enough to stand ground and find out. Richard, on the other hand, got up close and personal with small sharks, and he also claimed to have stepped on a sting ray. My guess is that the ray was really a flounder.
We spent part of one morning hiking through a wildlife refuge that hugs the eastern boundary of Martinique. We didn't see much in the way of wildlife, mostly a small lizard called a racerunner, and butterflies. The most interesting part of the refuge, to me, anyway, was the sign at the entrance to the trailhead. Among the usual no-no's like no pets, no camping, and no fires, was a prohibition against nudity. We also toured Ft. Morgan, because Richard is a Civil War fanatic and wanted to see something he'd only read about in books. At the fort, there was another interesting sign honoring the first Alabamian to be killed in the war, a young man named Noble Leslie DeVotie. I foolishly assumed Mr. DeVotie was killed by a minie ball or an exploding shell, but the truth is he tripped boarding a steamer at the Ft. Morgan pier, fell into the water and drowned. Rather anticlimactic.
Dr. Seuss famously said, "Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened." Well, screw that; our vacation's over and I'll cry if I want to.
"The sun has riz, the sun has set, and here we is in Texas yet."
I drove to Lubbock the last weekend of March to visit my daughter. Her sorority was hosting a Moms' Weekend, and this sounded like a good excuse to have some bonding time. The wildflowers were out in full force: fields of bluebonnets interspersed with primroses, Indian blankets, Mexican hats, and a curiously named plant with yellow flowers called bastard cabbage. Bastard cabbage is living up to its name; it is ganging up on the bluebonnets and taking over their territory, and the folks at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin are not happy.
It took exactly six hours to make the drive from Dallas to Lubbock, including a quick stop in Eastland for a bite and a fill-up. I've lived in Texas for over 40 years, and it still amazes me how one can drive for hours on end here, even at 75 mph, and not cross state lines. Here are a few facts to keep handy the next time you are at a crashingly boring dinner party and need to liven things up a bit:
Interstate 10 is the fourth longest interstate highway system in the United States. It runs for over 2400 miles (per Wikipedia) and is the southernmost coast-to-coast highway. Approximately 860 (35%) of those miles lie within Texas, connecting the city of Orange on the Louisiana side with El Paso way over on the western end, where it spoons with Mexico. At 75 mph, it would take you 11 1/2 hours to make the trip, with no stops for food or fuel and wearing an adult diaper. Nor would you be able to make side trips to see the Swamp Thing, the World's Third Largest Fire Hydrant (proof that not everything is bigger in Texas), the Muffler Man, or the Rimasaurus (a dinosaur made out of car rims), though why you'd WANT to, I can't imagine.
If you take I-10 from Orange, TX and head east, it is "only" 760 miles to Jacksonville, FL. In other words, Orange is closer to the Atlantic Ocean, four states away, than it is to El Paso. On the other hand, if you head west on I-10, El Paso is closer to the Pacific Ocean than it is to Orange (816 miles).
Vertically, 830 miles connect Brownsville, TX at the very bottom of the state with Perryton, TX in the northern panhandle, just shy of the Oklahoma line. This same distance will take you all the way from Perryton to Bismarck, ND, crossing five states. Another couple hundred miles north and you are in Canada.
Don't let the bastards get you down!
P. S. Mileage given is from Google Maps. No crows were consulted for this blog.
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