“Texas can make it without the United States, but the United States can’t make it without Texas.”
So, Houston. It’s big (think 4th largest city in the USA). It has a lot of traffic. It has a lot of people (2.3 million). It is hot and humid in August. We spent most of the exploration of it in the comforts of our air conditioned Kia. We did walk around Hermann Park which is part of a large green space in the Midtown section of downtown. It is a lovely area and was well populated on a Sunday morning. We lasted about an hour before the 95 degree heat and the 203% humidity did us in and so, back in the car we hopped! In our tour of the city, we drove past its many museums, the Astro’s stadium, and saw it’s skyline from many vantage points! We really didn’t do it justice in the allotment of time we had but at least now when we hear of Houston we will have images in our head of this very large dot on the map!
From Houston which sits in the coastal region of Texas we drove into the hill country and the landscape began its change. Hilly and more arid looking you begin to feel that you are moving into the southwest.
We drove through San Antonio where we will spend a couple of nights on the way home, and headed to our next stop on the South Llano River in Junction, TX. One of a few staying the night at the campground, our campsite sat under the umbrella of a large pecan tree by the banks of the greenish blue river popular for tubing. While there we discovered that the placid waist deep river before us was hit by a 100 year flash flood in the wee hours of a night last October which devastated the area and the campground we were now sitting in. Four campers perished in the floods and the many others camping at the time were water rescued with helicopters. Very tragic and hard to imagine.
Our next stop was Van Horn, TX in the Big Bend region. This area definitely became more desert like with a variety of cactus plants and more rugged looking mountains in the distance. It sits in the Permian Basin one of the nation’s largest oil-and-gas producing areas and from the road we spotted a few oil derricks working away. The area is also home to a vast number of wind farms and the hills are dotted with them.
Our lunch stop was at one of the nicest rest areas we’ve ever seen and we were welcomed by its attendant who shared with us a wealth of knowledge about the area. From flora, to snakes, to oil, he knew it all – it was an informative ½ hour. I now know what a prickly pear cactus looks like, that the rattlesnakes in this area have a greenish hue and that you can make walking sticks from the bloom of the sotol plant!
When we arrived at the campground for the day, it was rather tired looking, but the hostess was very accommodating and we found a site with a lone tree to help block out the heat. When Art went to hook up our electric, he was met by an aforementioned greenish rattlesnake who was thankfully, dead. Needless to say, we were very careful where we placed our feet when we took our walk that evening!
We were up and out early the next morning because we had a 356 mile drive ahead of us and we hoped to beat some of the heat of the day as it is getting increasingly hotter as we move west. We also would be passing through El Paso on the day of President Trump’s visit so we really wanted to get on the other side of it before they started closing roads. Leaving as the sun came up made for some lovely views of the sunrise over the mountains and the dappled light spreading across the landscape – nice way to start any day!
We arrived in El Paso by 8:30 and were impressed by what we saw of the town. Fortunately, the president would not be arriving until late in the day so our worries were for naught and we glided through downtown and the surrounding suburbs with relative ease. I-10 does pass the Walmart where the shooting took place and it is still roped off with caution tape, surrounded by news media trucks and police units. And, of course, the traffic on the highway slowed to a crawl as rubberneckers gawked at the scene. El Paso is located on the US/Mexico border and as you head out of town the fence line sits right along the east bound lanes of I-10 and you can easily see some of Juarez’s neighborhoods. An interesting way to wind up our 857 mile drive through Texas.
We have moved deeper into the southwest where it is getting hotter with each day. If we don’t melt and run down our shoes, as my mom used to say, my next post will be from sunny Desert Hot Springs, CA! Until then, stay cool, we sure are trying!
PS Sorry for the long post, but Texas is a big place!