You’ve heard it before, and you’ll hear it again. Texas is big. Really big. I don’t think you can appreciate how big it is until you have driven across it. 14 hours it took us. Mind you, we aren’t driving straight through, we do have to rest. And we had some urgent business in Odessa that needed tending to, but we didn’t dawdle except to sleep and eat, and took a pretty straight path as our goal was to get to Memphis via Texarkana. We went the “short way” across the north through Dallas on Interstates 20 and 30. 14 hours for the short way says it all. The last time I drove across the Lone Star state was decades ago, on Interstate 10, the Long Way. That was 24 hours of driving.
At least the landscape is more interesting on The Short Way. The Long Way is what feels like a never-ending belt of brown flat terrain, like driving on a big treadmill with the same picture outside your window. We had a little bit of that at the start, diving into Texas from New Mexico across the Permian Basin, studded with oil rigs as far as the eye can see. The rigs were still for the most part, with only an occasional lone “grasshopper” pump jack pecking the desert floor amongst dormant neighbors. I would think with gas at $5 a gallon, those puppies would be jumping like teenagers at a rave. That’s how much I know about the oil business.
It seemed strange to see the idle oil rigs when the wind, which had been plaguing us for days, was blowing up to 25 mph straight out of the south. Where were the windmills? We got our answer a couple of hours later when we rose out of the Permian and into Texas Hill Country. Suddenly there were wind turbines as far as you could see, hundreds and hundreds, perhaps thousands, we couldn’t see to the horizon. For 50 miles or more. The turbines were spinning busily, churning out green energy, and white knuckles (mine) on the steering wheel. Driving a billboard on wheels with a cross wind is tiring work.
Even the temperature is big in Texas, well over 90 degrees each of the 2 days. When you are towing an RV in that kind of heat, your mind dwells on the myriad of things that happen in the heat, mostly regarding tires and cooling systems. So, if you are smart like us, you are up and gone at sunrise to get as many miles under your wheels as you can before the dragon breathes on you.
We originally planned a route as direct as possible, from Carlsbad through Abilene and Texarkana to Memphis. 2 overnights across the great stretch would be rewarded with a 3 night stay in the Midwest BBQ capital. But, as we are in the throes of getting our house plans and financing completed so we can move into our new digs by the end of the year, we had to plan a detour off that straight route through Odessa Texas because we needed a notary, a Chase bank, and a Fedex office all precisely on one specific date, May 31. Our title company had delayed the close of our construction and mortgage loan past our departure date, much to our disappointment, and now they had called to tell us we needed to be in Florida on May 31 to sign all the docs, wire transfer the fees and costs, and close the loan. That obviously wouldn’t work for us, so we negotiated a compromise. They don’t use Docusign, which would make this a simple transaction that we could literally do on the road with a smartphone (we currently have both a road and 2 smartphones). They needed “wet” signatures on the docs, about 40 of them, with notary stamps on 6 of them. From our vantage point in Cheyenne Wyoming, the only path forward we could see was for them to overnight the doc package to us in Santa Fe, where we would be for a full Saturday, then for us to side-track to Odessa on Tuesday the 31st since it would be the only city within 50 miles of our path with all three necessary institutions. And the docs were all dated May 31, so that had to be the day. We arose on the 31st at 3:30AM, put in some writer’s hours, got some breakfast, and hit the road before sunup. We got to Odessa at 9AM, hit the UPS Store to make our notary appointment, walked to the Walgreen’s Fedex Center (5 minutes), and then drove down the street to Chase to send money on its way. What a relief!
At the same time, our great relatives in Florida, Donna & Glen, were supervising a crew that was unloading our moving van into our storage unit. With all these details taken care of we could now focus on the shorter side of our journey, once we get through Big Ol’ Texas that is.
As we were already in Odessa, and as we also have previously established a Stonehenge vibe (see the previous post Carhenge), Wendy discovered that the University of Texas at Permian Basin had created a duplicate of Stonehenge on their campus, so we had to see it.
I’ve seen the original in Britain, and this re-creation just doesn’t do anything for me. Not that the original did either, but we are splitting hairs here. We did take the opportunity to place on of our own stones, a painted rock, on the display in the hopes that some soul will find it and share it.
Finally, back on the road, we set our sights on the eastern border of Texas and let the horses run. The Short Way landscape beyond the Permian gave way to some beautiful countryside with trees and rolling hills. Even though it was still 90+ degrees outside the windshield, the scenery helped to take my mind off impending mechanical failures enough to let me just fight the wind and enjoy the ride. I will say one thing for the wind, the mental concentration required to deal with it sure helped me sleep well at night!
The winds finally eased up, our drive got smoother (and faster), and the miles peeled off like a bunch of old hippie’s clothes at a hot spring. (You won’t get that picture out of your mind for a while). We soon found ourselves seemingly on the doorstep of Memphis.
Tippy has some exercise advice.