Background Music: "Deep in the Heart of Texas" by Gene Autry

This is our last stop in Texas.  We’ve spent over a month here, and although we’ve really enjoyed it, it’s about time we mosey along to someplace new.   Our time here has been well spent- it’s been fun, and we’ve learned a good deal about this great state. We admit we came into Texas with some preconceived ideas about what it would be like, (blame that on Hollywood, maybe), but we think we’ve sorted it out and are going away a little wiser.

 Belief number one:  Texas is a big, flat, dusty desert full of oil fields.   

Driving through the Texas pan handle we thought this one might be true.  Once we got over here to the East, though, we didn’t see any of that.  We were surprised by the number of lakes.  Plus, there are forests, wildlife, grassy knolls…  We learned that much of Texas was built by folks who came “out west” and liked the land here in the east.  They helped build in exchange for free land in the pan handle.  Once they got over to take a look at their land in the west, though, they found they had been duped.  But not to worry- many of them got the last laugh by finding oil in their back yards.  Now, Jed, move away from there! 

Belief number two:  Texas is full of cowboys with funny accents.             

Remember that movie Urban Cowboy?  That is such a good movie, and it has two of the best lines ever: John Travolta’s, “I got the smarts real good.” and Debra Winger’s “You’re drunker’n Cooter Brown.”  We try to use those whenever we can.  We didn’t actually hear anyone say things like that, but we did see a lot of guys in cowboy hats and boots.  As far as accents, the southern drawl is alive and well in Texas.  It’s hard not to pick it up.  You find yourself saying things differently after awhile- ya jus’ cain’t hep’ it, ya’ll.

Belief number three:  It’s hot in Texas.   

Well, not in January- not everywhere anyway.  This was one of our harder lessons, learned up north, during the “Heather’s Fall” debacle.  Freezing temperatures and ice up north, warm and humid down south.  We’ve been enjoying spring like temperatures down here around Houston.  All this warm and cold air coming together does make for some interesting weather, though.  For the last couple of nights we’ve had some major thunderstorms, and yesterday we were under a tornado watch for most of the day.    When it got dark, the thunder and lightening got going and the wind really started buffeting around our little trailer.  It was in the middle of this that we got a tornado warning, “tornado has been spotted in your area, proceed to shelter immediately!” The weather radar picked one up, but no one actually saw it and no damage was done.  Apparently, people around here are pretty used to this and don’t pay much attention to these warnings.  It was our first tornado experience, though, and even though it was nothing, it was unnerving.  We’re hoping to avoid any more of those in the future.

Belief number four:  The food in Texas is going to be good.           

This one is true.  Oh so true.  These people know how to eat.  They aren’t afraid to fry things, and they really like their desserts.  They serve fresh homemade biscuits at every meal, and everything comes with sides of something creamy- coleslaw, baked beans, macaroni and cheese, cheesy au gratin potatoes.  In any small town, sometimes on country roads in the middle of nowhere, you can find one or two little shacks serving the most amazing barbeque- pork, beef, chicken, sausage.  You can also easily find fried pies, fried okra, fried pickles, fried anything and everything.

Grocery stores have been like tourist attractions for us.  In one store, we found an entire long aisle filled with nothing but jarred pickles on one side, and frying ingredients on the other.  In another store we tried to find cheddar cheese and instead found only boxes and boxes of Velveeta stacked high where you’d typically see several varieties of cheese. One lonely chunk of mozzarella lay at the back of the case, looking old and out of place.  It’s been interesting.   

Belief number five:  There won’t be much to do in Texas.

In the smaller towns (and there are a lot of these), that’s true for the most part.  Every town tries to give you something, though. They go out of their way to make their town special, which is another thing we liked about Texas.  The people here really love their state and are extremely proud of the places they live.

In all of the big cities, we’ve been able to keep very busy.  This stop in particular we’ve had some long days of touring.  Houston is about an hour away from where we’re camped and we’ve driven down around that area or past it almost every day.  Our first day we visited the Johnson Space Center.  The next day we drove down to Galveston and had our first look at the Gulf of Mexico from the U.S. side.  Our last day here we went to the San Jacinto Battleground State Historical Site.  Lots to see, lots more to do- Houston is definitely on our list of places that we’d like to come back to.

So here we are, at the end of our Texas stops and we’ve learned a lot.  We plan to come back and see more.  We’ve loved being here- the people, the food, the place itself.  Now it’s time to move on, though, to Louisiana, where we’re sure to dispel more Hollywood myths from our brains.

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