Yep, still in Texas. Aye: it’s a big state. From my friend’s house north of Austin, I jumped on Route 35 down to San Antonio. This is where I get into trouble at times paying attention to the various GPS apps. All three told me it was the fastest way. I hope to be never be on it ever again. Traffic was coking down the road, but between the number of cars and constant construction, it is white knuckle driving. I much prefer my open roads.
There was a little bit of business to take care of at the University of Texas. A friend of mine works there in the dental department so I wanted to float some ideas by him about working in a university setting like he does. With my background, he sees it likely. In the current climate with Covid, he sees it as impossible. Like every other business in the United States and world, schools are hurting. Even with a wealthy state, the university is looking at an $80 million shortfall.
After some excellent company and advice, I had to head into downtown San Antonio. There is a certain kind of awesomeness in some cities and their highway systems. San Antonio is one of them along with Atlanta, Houston and Dallas. I imagine that as traffic increased, they just decided to go up. It can be confusing, but there are long, sweeping ramps, under and over passes, and special lanes where you can speed through–for a price and if you know where you are going.
In the middle of downtown, amid the jungle of concrete and steel, there is this tiny little building made of stone: The Alamo. It is surprising both in the contrast and in the size. It’s tiny. Even if you include the original structure’s walls, it is not the imposing place you might think it to be. It makes you think that Crochet, Houston and Bowie were figgin’ nuts! This place couldn’t be defended against a few platoons of boy scouts let alone the entire Mexican Army.
Right across the entrance from the Alamo is another another. You walk down a set of steps, through a hotel and enter the underground mini city of Riverwalk. It was 106 degrees topside, but underneath the flowing river that loops it’s way through hotels and shops, it was a cooler beautiful space. At night, I was old, is when it really sparkles with neon lights. Beers and margaritas were offered everywhere, but not a single coffee shop that I could find. So I went top side. And still couldn’t find one. I also couldn’t find the usual crowds.
The lack of coffee, the 106 degree heat and with most everything closed, it led me back to my car to find an alternate route back to Austin.
Alternate routes are a gamble. You can find something different, something worse than you are trying to avoid, or just more of the same. I headed northwest along a two lane highway out towards a little known part of Texas: hill country. Yes, there are hills in Texas. Fredericksburg is considered one of the prettiest parts of hill country. There is a beer garden and wineries and main street is lined with all of the shops you might think of being there. I stopped to see an old friend of mine. But then it was back to find my way back to Austin.
There was just more driving through the hills at 70mph on a two line highway. Then, the towns started popping up and the speed limits started to jump all over the place. 70 to 55 to 35, up to 45, back to 70, then dropping to 35. I got lucky. Very lucky. I was cruising, got tired of the jumps in speed limits, so just just cruised. I passed a few cars but then saw a real town coming up so started to slow down and pulled over into the right lane (it was now a four lane highway as I got closer to Austin). The cars that I had flew past about five miles back passed me. And that’s when the cop cam with lights and sirens, pushing in to pull over the first car.
I’m not quite sure what happened after that. A guy was behind the cop car and there another car in front of me. The first car, in front of the cop, pulled over. The car behind the cop also pulled over. After about a couple hundred yards, the guy that had been in the left lane behind the cop also pulled over. I’m just cruising down the road, doing the speed limit, wondering what to do? Should I have pulled over? I just finally figured that if they wanted me bad enough they would have caught up to me so I just kept going, maintaining the speed limit.
Another day in Texas. You can really spend a month or longer in every state. I’ve been back here in Austin four times now and here is still stuff I want to see. Each city I go to, I get recommendations. That I, unfortunately, have to ignore. I’m moving and bouncing without a real plan but I do have to finish at some point in time. And I started looking at the calendar. August 8th means nothing in Texas. September may see a drop of a few degrees with cold fronts bringing it into the 70’s. But there is a definite window for Alaska. Mid to end of September at best before the snows and real cold weather begin to hit. That’s 4,000 miles of straight driving, and I am not very good about driving straight.