Sunday, July 30, 2006

Texas by the turn signal light: Epilogue

I just dropped in to see what condition my condition was in
After each vacation my wife, Jodie, and I take, we unanimously and simultaneously exclaim this truism: “We need to take a vacation after our vacation.”
The last 10 days have proven that to be true … once again. We are so worn out after 10 days away from the rat race that we firmly believe that the rats are probably doing the right thing. Rats, you see, never vacation because it’s easier. And wiser.
This go-round, we remained within the borders of Texas because of the high cost of gasoline and the need to accomplish certain personal goals – most of which WERE completed – although a return trip for future genealogical discovery/research would be helpful). Jodie could spend a month visiting libraries, county courthouses and cemeteries in the middle of Nowhere, Texas (all those who know where Bigfoot, Texas is located, raise your hands … liars!).
This is her lifelong dream to complete a comprehensive documentation of her family roots, which date to the founding of Texas and anything I can do to assist in her Ellery Queen search scores points at home. Gentlemen, that’s always a good thing.
I, on the other hand, got baseballed out fairly quickly. Six games were schedules and only five were attended. At the final contest, in Round Rock (to see the Class AAA Express face the Grizzlies of Fresno who were probably happy to be in Texas where it was only 97 degrees compared to 119 in Fresno), I just sat and watched the proceedings without my normal process of keeping score. For the record, I do that at EVERY game I attend … just because.
Upon learning of this change of heart, my wife asked if I needed immediate medical attention – perhaps a heart transplant or a lobotomy.
We always believe that we are guilty of overloading our Ford Escape with what could be considered by others to be unnecessary items. But it always seems as if someone needs a bandage, a zip-loc bag or lens cleaner … just at the right moment.
Years of experience has educated us to the point where we can pack the right amount of clothes – down to the last outfit for the trip home. And if we had not gulped down Tylenol by the fistful (to soothe our aching backs), we would have not visited one of the finer Walgreen’s in the area.
Well, that and the visit to Target for the two right feet incident – a tale that will go down in Bloom family history and legend.
Any vacation should include a sense of discovery. Returning to the same place, year after year, yields no new experience; no wonderment. It should be a time to see new sites, eat new foods and expand one’s horizons.
On this trip, I was able to shares the joys of perfect Texas barbecue with Jodie, she got to show me a classic San Antonio Tex-Mex restaurant (where the nachos are made with guacamole, not beans) and we each learned what a Cajun boiling pot meant.
We have appreciated the economic value of a decent digital camera, a good software program and a quality laptop as a package to replace taking printed pictures. You might think that this package is costly but when you take 1,000 photos (or more as we did), divided by 24 or 36 shots per roll of regular 35mm film and times the cost of developing and printing, then, as Chico Marx would proudly say, “That runs into money.”
Our computerized package paid for itself before the end of our first trip; the rest is gravy. And a great photo can sustain a wonderful memory for eternity. Besides, if a blind squirrel can find an acorn, an amateur can shoot a great picture.
Gasoline was at a constant price, from $2.79 to $2.95 in Dallas (but, of course). Drivers, regardless of Texas ZIP code, are uniformly rude and impatient and have NO concept of what a turn signal means within traffic.
It is dry across Texas wherever you might be, except for the Houston area, which has suffered more rainfall at times, but, sadly, won’t share with the rest of us. Typical!
A final visual thought: The ugliest stretch of the Eisenhower Interstate 50th anniversary system used to be I-45 from Dallas to Houston. But now, the winner … and new heavyweight ugly champion IS … Interstate-35 from Dallas to San Antonio.
Forget the constant sight of pre-fab home lots, XXX video megastores and trash by the tons along the highway sides. The entire stretch, almost 300 miles worth, is under repair and disrepair. Dozens of exits are closed in several cities and signage for proper directions is nearly impossible.
A concrete barrier separates north and southbound traffic because the roadway is too narrow, even for an interstate and the Sunday return trip saw more traffic than ever. It wasn’t because of holiday traffic; it was because the vehicles had no place else to go.
It is a mess and will BE a mess for years to come. It makes vacationing in the future something to ponder, going southward.
In the next few days, we’ll reminisce about the last 10 days and, dare I say, plan/dream about next year’s trip.
Colorado? The Mississippi Delta? New Mexico (Santa Fe/Taos)?
Who knows? Tomorrow is another day, another doctor’s appointment and another 10 loads of laundry from the last 10 days.

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