Texas, Texas, Still Texas...
Trip Start Apr 30, 2010
52Trip End Sep 05, 2010
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We left Houston Saturday morning ready to put in a big – make that Texas-sized – day of driving. It was a bit discouraging when 20 miles out of city centre, we were still watching Houston's vast mall sprawl. When we finally got on the open road though, Texas was a delight – its seemingly infinite lands providing incredible variation.
On the way to Houston, Texas was similar to much of Louisiana – lush and swampy, still boasting signs for Cajun food and tourist sites. Houston’s Southern location, concrete jungle and proximity to the Gulf contributed to its incredible burning humidity.
Driving Northwest towards the Panhandle, the landscape softened into hilly farm country, sometimes so idyllic you questioned its authenticity. Clusters of goats in a lush, shaded dips between hills, their delicate noses rummaging through the dark grass. A solitary donkey sipping from a still pond beneath graceful, bending trees. A dark foal nursing from his glossy coated mother by a weather beaten wooden fence. Pastoral charm at its best.
We passed sprawling farms of Holsteins and Angus cattle, and huge crop farms with massive spider- like mechanical irrigations systems slowing rolling over them. As we went further Northwest, the cows and crops gave way to immense sloping plains filled with energy-producing windmills – Texas is moving towards a new type of power it seems. Then the land flattened out and became more arid, more desert-looking with the occasional abrupt plateau-topped mountain jutting up towards the sky.
As we pushed on into the panhandle, we saw the definitive Texas sight we had been expecting for so long: the bobbing oil drills scattered throughout the country side. They made me think of prehistoric beasts, their motorized dipping heads had a look of great fossilized birds. The air smelled like a gasoline station for miles on end while we passed by hundreds of them.
The oil plains slowly morphed back into ranch country as we neared our destination for the day: Lubbock, Texas, the largest city in the panhandle. Lubbock is also birthplace of Buddy Holly and proud home of Texas Tech, evident from the black and red TexTech banners that drape every bar. With about 900 kilometres behind us for the day, we pulled into the Triple J Brewery and Chophouse, ready for a hearty meal to satisfy our Texas-sized hunger.
Matt went with a jumbo shrimp pasta dish but I went for a real Texan meal: 7oz grilled sirloin, rare, with garlic button mushrooms on the side. Both meals came with great salads – Matt’s had an awesome smoky chipotle dressing – and the brewery’s homemade wheat-beer bread and honey butter. They had a nice selection of their own brews, and you could see all the brewery equipment through a large glass window behind the bar. Add a live guitar player singing in the background and it was a great stop overall. Pretty tired after that drive – which should be the last of our really long ones, thankfully – we just parked the beast in church parking lot and crashed for the night.