Monday, September 05, 2005

Day 1 - On the road again

Greetings from the wet road in Van Horn, Texas (thunderstorms appear to sweep across scores of miles of landscape and probably do) where gasoline prices are pretty much stabilized between $2.99 and $3.09 per gallon.
Having gone more than 500 miles from Dallas, it offers a long opportunity to analyze the interstate system within the Lone Star State. And frankly, it sucks, and it’s ugly. In fact, they ought to recast the Texas state quarter and replace the map of Texas with its new endearing symbol – the orange and white highway cone (they’re everywhere and they make driving a chore!).
Texas is a special state because it encompasses all the major national topographies within its borders. There are hundreds of miles of coastline with Corpus Christi and South Padre Island considered being unique. East Texas contains the forests and swamps of the South, South Texas has rolling brush country, North Texas mirrors the flat plains of central U.S. and the Hill Country of Central Texas is the gateway to the mountains in deep West Texas.
So why doesn’t its highways reflect such diversity and beauty? Five major routes exist and nary one of them is worthy of long, languid drives. There is nothing uglier than going from Dallas to Galveston on I-45, only followed by the I-35 trek from Dallas to San Antonio and long sections of I-20 east of Abilene past Odessa.
The roadways, which once reflected much of Texas’ precious open space, now contains such eyesores as dilapidated homes and businesses, pre-fab housing sale lots, triple-x bookstores and so many empty, decaying billboards it’s painful to see.
The medians find weeds unattended for what appears to be months, if at all. Wildflowers might grace certain parts of Texas in the spring but weeds are hideous.
When such sights greet newcomers, what does it say to them about Texas? Frankly, the state should be using all the money, appropriated to erect greeting signs to promote its White House occupant native son, to clean up as many miles of highway as possible. It wouldn’t be the world’s worst thing to initiate a government-work program to have ongoing cleanup efforts on the interstates. After all, if the government is going to support people, why not do some good with it?
Imagine hiring evacuees from Katrina as a new workforce? It would solve several problems at once. Creative thinking often is what is needed for the betterment of all.
It’s dinnertime and Van Horn, frankly, offers little. The choice is between Chuy’s Mexican Kitchen or the Dairy Queen. What do you think?
But Van Horn is in Central Time while El Paso is in Mountain Time, which makes watching the hotel television weird. One of many adjustments to make manana.
Adios until then.

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