Laura and I set out to visit friends and family in Texas over her spring break. My cousin Pat opined a trip to Texas in a week was a bit crazy, but, then, I was a Lytle and it would happen. We got up and out of here before seven in the morning on the 24th of March. My plan was to bunk for the first night past St. Louis.
The route was Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, to Grand Prairie, Texas. We left in dense fog. By Indiana it was rain, by Illinois, accumulating snow. The Illinois interstate was two lanes of hills and terrified drivers trying to negotiate two inches of snow at twenty miles per hour. Then, cars began littering ditches to the left and to the right. Accidents, emergency vehicles blocking lanes.
About four in the afternoon, still in Illinois, I lost my nerve. We checked into a motel and fired up the weather channel. The band of foul weather stretched from South Dakota to Arkansas. For half an hour I sat on the bed and glowered at the stinking cold front stealing another four hours from me.
To boot, Comfort Inn motels have come down many notches since I used them back in my travelling days. This is the most stupid eighty dollars I’ve ever spent, I told Laura. I’ve driven in worse weather; let’s try it again. We packed up, checked out and got back on Interstate 70. I’ve never liked that road, and it did not change my opinion.
|St. Louis arch in fog-Gateway to the West|
Laura’s phone probably is approaching overload of pictures. Every sunrise and sunset. Every new state sign. Every river we crossed. The things I hoped she would notice. The first day we crossed the Ohio, the Wabash, the Mississippi, the rivers that opened the interior of this country. I have no idea where they fit into Laura’s understanding of geography, but she knows where they are and has been across the mighty bridges.
We made St. Louis by dusk, checked into a Best Western and slept until seven. We were back on the road by eight, in sunshine and the great Oklahoma and Texas landscapes. We came through the low, rolling Ozarks, headed for the Indian Nation Turnpike, into Texas. I thought much of Oklahoma “unspoiled”. It is the prairie grasslands I remembered; the houses are cottages in the country. Outbuildings, old farm equipment, extra vehicles; family centric housing and businesses.
I stopped at a toll booth to see if the toll cameras were reading my electronic pass for the eastern toll roads I use. The short answer is No, I will get an invoice in the mail. And so we passed into Texas, destination Grand Prairie, to visit my blogging friend RunningRose. Rose has no blog, but follows many with her observations and comments.
Grand Prairie was an eye opener. We moved on to Dallas and Houston, and I’m glad we started with Grand Prairie. When I last visited Texas, probably in the eighties, I lamented the multi lane highways. These have morphed into multi lane, multi level highways, with hundreds of long cement legs sunk into the ground for support. We counted as many as ten stacked one over another, and the surface road(s) forced between the legs on the ground. I had GPS and Laura navigating, and without them I would have spent a lot of time backtracking for the right route.
Monday was bright and sunny, perfect for visiting Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose, Texas.
|"They'll drive around us"|
Laura and "old people"
To quote Rose, "43 babies"
Don't do this!
Or this will happen
Roses' car and disappointed ostrich
|I love this picture!|
Tuesday it rained. Rose’s granddaughter took Laura shopping at a Texas mall. Laura spent all her money, and came back with a nice stack of new clothes.
Wednesday we visited my cousin Pat and her husband, Ellis, in Dallas. We attempted to work out Pat’s relationship to Laura, but it was one of those fourth cousin twice removed Southern things, and we gave it up in a gale of laughter. Pat is the daughter of a brother of my dad’s mother, which begins the cousin part.
Pat and Ellis!
Pat has lived in Texas since the age of eight or so, and is pure “yonder” and “fixin’ to” Texas. Ellis quizzed Laura’s level of enjoyment of her spring break, and she allowed listening to old people was OK.
Pat and Ellis and supervision
Early Thursday morning we set out for Ellen Abbott’s home and studio, down yonder in Wharton, Texas, southwest of Houston. The drive down was pure spring. Bluebonnets, Indian paintbrush, Indian blanket, vervain. Broad landscape, bayous, barely marked roads, red dirt that I also associate with Arkansas and Louisiana.
Ellen’s house and studio are pure Texas, in my opinion. She lives in what would be deemed a flood plain, back north here, and they suffered mightily post hurricane Harvey. Ellen, and all her surrounding area, is recovering. Ellen has workmen in and out, daily. I’m sending you over to her blog to read Ellen’s recap of our afternoon there.
Ellen's "Big Mama" turtle
Friday morning we started early, home through Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio. I anticipated two and a half days to cover the 1,400 miles from Wharton to Peninsula, but the days were beautiful, as was the landscape. Traffic was pretty thick, and ruder than I expected. I attribute it more to the volume and the holiday travel than a sea change in the American personality. Great soft mattresses at Best Western’s and ice cream and milk shakes on the fly from Dairy Queen got us back in two days. The laundry is done, the shopping is done and it’s time to get the cat.
I love my cousin, and was happy to see her. The adventure of meeting bloggers I’ve corresponded with for the last six or seven years is hard to put to words. I could cheerfully live next door to any of these people. If you have opportunity to meet bloggers you admire and respect, just do it!