Driving across Texas

10 03 2012

The threat of very nasty storms had me on the road at 9:00 am this morning, thus missing the final couple of hours of the quilting workshop. I would’ve only been working on my piece, which is something I can continue at home. All our instruction was well and truly done, so it was only sewing and camaraderie time I missed.

I wanted to swing by La Grange to see the relatively new Texas Quilt Museum, so I packed up my stuff, said my goodbyes, checked out of the resort, and hit the road. Some 100 miles and 95 minutes later, I made it to La Grange (via Hwy 46, I-10 and Hwy 77).

The museum is housed in an old building that has been beautifully refurbished. Currently, they have one-third of the quilts from the ‘Lone Star’ book on display — they showed the first third for the first couple of months, this group for the next few months, then the last group later this year. No photos were allowed 😦 There was an interesting combination of modern and traditional quilting designs and techniques — all were just stunning. I spent an hour there, and spent a minute or two looking at each quilt (no, you can’t touch them either!) and reading the blurb about each one.

The rain was bucketing down and the temperature had dropped dramatically (~46F) when I left the museum at 11:30 am. It rained and rained, then rained some more, with the occasional patches of drizzly rain. Did I mention that it rained? It rained pretty much the whole way to Tyler, TX, when the rain disappeared even though the sky was totally covered in clouds. Not a drop of sun to be seen. I made it to Marshall, TX just on 5 pm — some 300 and something miles from New Braunfels, and some 7 hours of driving, not including the hour at the quilt museum. As I was making my way diagonally across Texas, I mostly took state roads and highways (77, 79, 259, 155, and 59), with a little bit of time on the I-10 and I-20. I wanted to avoid it when the ‘cricks rose’ and spilled out over the flatter parts of Texas. After all, I need to be in Memphis on Saturday, so I am ready for my presentation on Sunday.

I had dinner at The Jalapeno Tree in Marshall this evening, on the recommendation of the girl at the desk of the hotel where I’m staying. I ordered the bowl of chicken tortilla soup (to compare it to the others I’ve had!), and the SMALL appetizer of chicken nachos. The soup was ordinary, but HUGE. And the nachos weren’t very palatable at all — and also HUGE. I left quite a bit of both; the nicest part of the meal was the things they couldn’t screw up too much — sour cream, guacamole, salsa dip for the corn chips, chopped tomatoes.

Some impressions from my drive today:

  • Spring is springing into life — lots of trees blossoming, lots of wildflowers, and lots of road kill (e.g. skunks, raccoons and some big black bird that flocks to eat the road kill — turkey buzzards/vultures??)
  • Lots of chicken farms behind the main line of view from the road in certain areas.
  • Lots of abandoned houses, offices, businesses. Some looked quite old so may have been abandoned long before the last 5 years or so, but I suspect many were abandoned/closed down as a result of the current economic situation.
  • Plenty of vacant ‘Adopt a Highway’ positions — perhaps the service clubs, community organisations are having trouble getting/keeping members, especially as people move away from rural areas for work.
  • Political advertising for civic positions. Heaps of it. I’ve never understood why sheriffs etc. have to be elected.
  • Enclosed bars. I’ve never understood this either. It’s a ‘feature’ in many states. No windows, no light, and a sense of ‘secret men’s business’ behind the closed doors.
  • Massive number of churches, big and small. It is the ‘Bible Belt’ after all, but with all the abandoned/closed houses/businesses etc. I wonder how far Christian (I saw no evidence of any other variety of religion) charity extends. The churches sure didn’t look run-down.
  • Cell towers everywhere. As soon as you see one, you can see the flashing light on top of the next one. Not many ‘black holes’ here, like there are in Western Australia.
  • National anthem played on the radio station I was listening too at noon today.

Tomorrow I continue my journey through NE Texas, across Arkansas, and into Memphis, Tennessee, my final destination for several days.


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