Monday, October 17, 2016

A Glimpse of Texas

"Did you enjoy the peaceful Texas night?" Rogue asked me a little before sunrise. Between the lights from the gas station across the street and the bar, the swish of constantly passing cars and the roar of motorcycles going in and out of the parking lot, sleeping had been a little trying.

Lawn and parking lot of Beaux Jangles bar
Beaux Jangles "campground"

"Meh," I responded, and walked across the street for coffee. I also used their bathroom mirror to put in my contacts. I'd attempted to do it without one the day before, and had inadvertently spent the day wearing only one lens and wondering why my vision was so screwy.

We skirted Houston to the north and got on 290 toward Austin. The first thirty or so miles were shitty; there was construction happening everywhere, and the lack of breakdown lanes combined with lane shifts and a generous helping of tractor trailers made for some very risky riding.

"It's a really balls-to-the-wall way to ride," Rogue observed. "Because if anything happens, there's no way out, so it's like, we go."

Sign: Unless you are George Strait or God...Remove your Boots.
If you're unfamiliar with Buc-ee's, I recommend the experience.

At an otherwise-uninteresting gas stop, we were approached by a man from New Orleans. He called me babe and then seemed to notice that I was bristling, because he quickly went on to say, "In New Orleans, everyone calls everyone else babe. Even the guys. When I moved to Texas," he laughed, "They warned me, Now don't go calling a cowboy babe!"

Those are the kind of weird travel tips I just love. I can't imagine finding that in a guidebook, but it's important and relevant all the same. It also gives a more interesting taste of the human culture in an area than a careful analysis of the quality of the steak at Whatsnsucha Restaurant.

In Rolling Rock, we were early to the apartment complex where Rogue's friend Lauren lives, so we found a spot in the shade and relaxed on the grass. It was a beautiful day - hot in the sun, but lovely under the tree. We watched several people enter the main building carrying number-shaped balloons, gifts, and a cake for what was either a 30th or an 03rd birthday party.

Lauren arrived looking very Texan in a truck, a big hat, and big boots. She brought us up to her apartment and put together a tray of cheese, sausage, and grapes while we took turns showering.

"So much better," said Rogue afterward, in the tone of voice of a person who has stepped into a warm house after a week outdoors in winter. For me, although the shower was lovely, slouching on a sofa was the really amazing concept. That and the grapes. Lauren said they were cotton candy grapes, specially bred to be extra tasty. I mowed through enough of them that Lauren gave me the bag when we left, saying I would clearly get the most enjoyment out of them.

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