Monday, 23 June 2008


I overslept so missed the free continental breakfast in the hotel. Having loaded up the car and taken a picture of the wonderful M.C. Escher-style walkways and fire escapes the motel boasted I head off East once more. Firstly trying to find something to eat. El Paso is miles of rather grim urban sprawl and so I found myself with a choice: "Popeye’s Chicken and Biscuits" (I am thinking grey sludge here again). A place that just boasted "Dark Meat" (Not sure what they sold) and "Jack in the Box" - A burger emporium with no surprises. The woman behind the counter had terrible trouble understanding me, and me her. I thought Hugh Grant had paved the way for us but obviously not.

I gave my first name and when it was called collected my chicken chilli burger and curly fries and sat down in the corner. A young man glared at me. He was with his wife and two small children. Deciding that he may be possibly a gang member wanting to "pop a cap in my ass" I read the paper, every so often looking up to see that he was still glaring at me.

Later I realised he was glaring at everyone. Perhaps the pressure of being a good old fashioned family man taking the wife and kids for a meal was beginning to tell. Later it dawned that maybe that was his default expression and underneath the beetling brows, the eyes too close together and the mouth set in a firm line, was a warm kind generous man who had simply not taken his mother’s advice. So when the wind changed he had stayed like that.

Found the interstate and decided to just go a short way down the 10 before turning off onto the 90 at Van Horn. That short way was about 100 miles. I think the page I am on has a different scale to the other states. Texas is absolutely vast. The scenery does change but it is overwhelmingly dry with miles of dirt and brush. In a nod to its size the speed limit on the interstate is a sensible 80 mph. Otherwise no one would get anywhere. Tooling down the highway doing 79 (This is a song lyric. Can you guess which song though?) a truck a hundred yards in front of me decided to blow a tyre with a spectacular bang and showering shards of rubber and metal everywhere. I snapped me out of my reverie in an instant.

Once onto the 90 it was mile after mile of nothing in particular. On the radio, Joan Rivers was doing a public service announcement about osteoporosis. I am going to come back from this trip several pounds heavier and a total hypochondriac. Suddenly on a lonely road and not having seen a car for miles I passed a very high class shoe shop. I drove on, thinking "they won't sell a lot of shoes and handbags out here.".........................HANG ON THAT IS LUDICROUS.......SCREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!! went the brakes. Not quite a handbrake turn but a good smoking-tyred U turn as I headed back to the shop.

A Prada shop. A thousand miles from nowhere? (Another song there folks). Turns out it was an art installation on land lent by the family of the late Walter Alton "Slim" Brown (trucker, rancher, roper, friend).

One of the durndest things I ever seen. Thought I‘d seen everything.... but I’ve never seen an elephant fly! (oh do shut up Alex). The shop was sealed although there was a small area of damage to the glass which would make for a better story if it was a bullet hole. However it looked like someone had thrown a rock at it. Next to the damage were the words: "When two worlds collide". Shortly after that another of the durndest things. A genuine bonafide roadrunner rushed in front of my car and vanished into the scrub on the other side of the highway. Couldn't hear if it made that "meep meep" sound like it did in the cartoons above the noise of the wind and an advert for Glaucoma detection. "If you have a family history....dial 555 EYES"

AS I got closer to Del Rio, my destination, I started to smell rain. Not that sweet damp earth smell of last years blog. This smelled of wet dirt. Not soil or earth. Dirt. The wind sprung up and lightning started to flash so it seemed wise to pull over and close the roof. Shortly after that I swept over the Rio Pecos so I am now the, er rootenist tootenist cowpoke EAST of the Pecos.

Pulled into Del Rio and booked into one of several motels and headed over the road for a cold one at a rival establishment. Staff very young and attentive. It was interesting talking to them as they obviously wanted to get out of this one-horse town but didn't know how, unlike other small towns I have visited where everything shuts at 9pm. They stayed open until 02.00am. Apparently this was because there was nowhere else to "drink up" for miles around. As I was eating yet more nourishing Mexican fare. Del Rio being more or less on the border. I spied a sign above the bar which read: "Felony. State law proscribes a maximum penalty of ten years imprisonment for carrying weapons where alcoholic beverages are sold, served or consumed.

Spurs jingling, I sashayed out of the bar and headed back to my room. I like Texas but it does seem a mite aggressive. Still at the current rate of progress I will be out of here in a couple of weeks or so.

Musical references here, tune fans.

"Transfusion" Nervous Norvus

"1000 Miles from Nowhere" Dwight Yoakam

"When I see an elephant fly" Dumbo


Frances said...

Alex, the lyrics are a lttle dark today(except for the Disney number).
Try a litle more optimism in your tune references. We're depressed enough without you anyway !

Caroline said...

Did you see just a road runner or a wiley coyote as well?

Chris said...

Yes Alex Texas IS big. Bloody 'normous actually. Was intending going to Lubbock once. 'Why?' asked my old DFW friend, 'Buddy Holly couldn't wait to leave, do you know how far it is?' (I didn't, but it's miles away)'They have cold beer there' I replied. 'Hell fire, boy (an affectionate term of endearment in aggressive TX, you understand), 'WE have cold beer here, why you want to go to Lubbock of all places?' Speaks volumes for the State. Am travelling and fragemented 'Net access, but I'm reading every word! ~cw