They were not kidding when they said Texas was big. Whoa. I’ve traveled about 1110 miles through Texas and I have about 1000 more to go. The landscape has gone from bayou to prairie to canyon and I’m definitely in the desert now. The appropriate music coming into Texas was Pink Martini!
My first stop was College Station, home of Texas A&M (agriculture and mechanics). The school IS the town and my niece who is very accomplished in her field (PhD in Shakespeare) chose what might seem an oxymoron. After visiting the huge and abundant campus, I see why she and Dan moved to College Station. The school is funded by oil money and the English department is in a brand new state of the art building. Laura gets whatever she wants as do her students and the Aggies have some of the most prestigious Shakespeare collections in the world. Laura is remarkable, abundant and one of the most optimistic and joyful human beings I’ve ever met. Professor Estill hasn’t changed much since I met her 22 years ago except she’s gained more wisdom and experience. Their house has become home base for me as I left Baby Blue with an import mechanic for an overhaul.
Zafer was having a bad case of senioritis and needed a few mental health days and I needed some homesick relief, so we brought him in for a few days. We had a great time figuring out Texan culture, taking photos, and I realize my days are limited and empty nest is coming. That will be a big transition for our family and I think harder than I’m allowing myself to think about. Literally feels like he was just born. Except he is his own unique being. I’m in awe of the young man he has become and honoured that he joined me.
A few things I learned in College Station:
Armadillo’s carry leprosy and can transmit to humans, so don’t cuddle the roadkill.
Texas A&M students (entire student body) stand to show their support during football games because they might be needed as the “12th man” if someone is injured on the team, to fill in.
Zafer and I also noticed the contrast between the oil rigs everywhere and the wind turbines. Texas is in a boom period because of fracking and if you have a CDL (commercial driver’s license) you can be paid $100,000 to drive away the waste water or deliver the fracking fluid.) (never mind the health and environmental issues). Texas is also the biggest producer of wind in the US. (Uncle Glen knows all this). So, wind is also booming thanks to a renewable portfolio standard expanded by the state legislature.
Another detour and surprise for this trip was visiting Kurt. Kurt was my sweet highschool boyfriend and hearing his familiar deep voice call and say “Tamela!” brought me back to carefree days when I was 16 and the big decision was location of party and who was driving. (we won’t talk about the Raleigh CAT bus that Kurt wrecked while he was not even in his car…) Zafer and I took off to Padre Island, Corpus Christi the largest barrier island in the world and on the gulf. Kurt settled down there and has the ‘brady bunch’ going on with his lovely wife, Lisa. They’ve merged 6 children together and happily I might add. She was spectacular, obviously an ambitious nurse that runs clinics and is working on weight loss for the community. Which is great since Corpus Christi is the #1 heaviest city in the nation. They also have the #1 worst hair (wind and humidity), but they are birthplace of Farrah Fawcett. Kurt and Lisa were perfect hosts and took Zafer and me to see an Ansel Adams exhibit. I loved seeing them and their kids.
Dropped Zafer at the airport and took off for Marfa and Big Bend. Marfa is an artist colony and Big Bend is one of the largest, most remote and least visited national parks in the US. Big Bend was named as an “International Dark Sky Park” (one of 10 on earth) for stargazing.
It took all day to get from the gulf to Marfa. I drove parallel to the Rio Grande and encountered Border Patrol for the first time. I didn’t look like a human smuggler, so they were quick with me. Thank you to the Crute Family for being my texas travel team. Muzzy, Nancy, Phifer, and Johnny and also Chris Jude who came here on his honeymoon.
The drive was more and more remote and SPECTACULAR. TAKE. YOUR. BREATH. AWAY. It felt like another planet. There was nothing but huge expansive sky, me, and beautiful prairie, desert, canyons with bright green rivers and an occasional train. No gas stations, no nothing for hundreds of miles. The American Hustle soundtrack had the perfect dramatic tone to go with the vistas. It was so different to be alone and in the moment for that long.
Each part of the trip is different, has a different energy, different vibe and this part lends itself to spirit and art.
I’m at peace, confident and happy here, talking to strangers and “being”.
This is what I came for.
Tonight I’m under a full moon in the very dark sky of the desert. Tomorrow night I go to a “Star Party” at the McDonald Observatory.
And I get to hold hands with Lyle in one week!