Deep in the heart of Texas...

Trip Start May 27, 2012
Trip End Aug 10, 2012

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Flag of United States  , Texas
Sunday, June 17, 2012

A funny thing happened on the way to Texas… We found New York City. All along, we had been thinking perhaps we were spending too much time visiting places we'd knew we’d like—liberal Austin, quirky, artsy Marfa, etc—all places that when meeting people, we’d find out that they had once lived in New York or were from New York, etc. (In fact, all of us doing the art tour in Marfa had lived in NYC at one point.)

But now, we’re in Texas. The stereotypical Texas that everyone thinks about. Take, for example, our 100 mile drive last night for tacos and enchiladas that Kathryn is writing about—when the two of us were, as we were told, the only two in the bar not from that small town and the otherwise lovely painted sign said, "Beatings will continue until moral improves." (I am never one to question others’ morals, myself.) I am not going to say our welcome in the bar was unfriendly... but let's just say it wasn't welcoming. Going out the door, I heard people at the bar mocking me and making fun of me for thanking the waitress as we walked out.

Take the car mechanic in TX that we took the car to in order to get the oil changed. His shop had more anti-Obama stickers than I’ve probably seen collectively- ever. I never knew there were THAT many conspiracy theories or that people could be so creative with anti-Obama sentiments. My favorite, however, was not anti-Obama. Instead, it was a bumper sticker that just said, “Fuck Marfa”   Well, then.

Or, take our river guide this morning. He said he doesn’t get out of Texas much these days, but yeah, goes to DC every once in a while, but only for a protest. He lives off grid—a 15,000 gallon rain catchment (in the Texas desert) can last him for enough water for several years. Four solar panels provide all the power he needs. A garden nearby provides all the vegetables he could eat. He casually talks about slipping across the border to Mexico over the Rio Grande (at night or during the day- it doesn’t seem to matter) to go to the dentist.

Take the trailer along the side of the road he pointed out. “Oh, that was Dirty Dan. He died in that trailer about ten years ago. No one has bothered to come take away that trailer. No real need to. The nice thing about this part of Texas is that you can plop down an eye-sore on some part of the land and no one cares. They just come out here to be on their own- yeah, we got the Ted Kaczynski types, we got those with PhDs, whatever. “ We learned that as long as the mobile home still has tires on it, it doesn’t count towards taxes.

More from our guide Jack:

“See that hole in that cliff over there? People used to live in those things. In fact, I got a friend of mine who lives in one now. Says it stays about 72 degrees all year round.” I asked how his friend got into the entrance in the side of the cliff- perhaps a ladder? “No, there is a trail that runs up there. It gets real narrow though.”

So, there you go. A rugged spirit thrives in Texas, matching perfectly the rugged, desolate, but strangely beautiful and appealing landscape that surrounds and defines this region.


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