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The Road is Long – Hwy 207 just north of Floydada, Texas
Copyright © 2010 Jeff Lynch Photography

The interminable (sometimes painful) vastness of the Texas landscape has been the subject of numerous books over the years from writers of both fiction and history.

Despite Texas’ apparent political, social, and cultural irrationality—e.g. a “red” state whose population is composed of 37.6% Hispanics to 45.3 Non-Hispanic Whites (Demographics of Texas), governed by a Republican controlled state legislature and a Republican governor that create laws that seem bent on limiting the rights of that same Hispanic group—I have long been strangely fascinated by this state.

Perhaps I am fascinated because the vastness of Texas and its complex culture, those endless miles of highway that cover the state, is really a metaphor that represents the distances between the various ethnic groups that live in Texas.  Here’s an interesting quotation from author Mary Laswell:

“I am forced to conclude that God made Texas on his day off, for pure entertainment, just to prove that all that diversity could be crammed into one section of earth by a really top hand.”

Or perhaps I am fascinated because of the larger-than-life history of Texas that tends to represent its past more as myth than as reality (cf. the deeply-held, reverent attitude Texans have for heroes like Davy Crockett: the Crockett mythos of the man as “King of the Wild Frontier,” like many of the Texas legends that are “historically unproven and even historically insupportable,” is still fiercely defended and proudly lauded by its citizens—I almost bought a Tee shirt with a quotation attributed to Crockett that says “You may all go to hell and I will go to Texas”).

A road trip into Texas is no small matter and should not be taken lightly.

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Louie getting Roscoe ready for a walk in the Coach House.

Louie getting Roscoe ready for a walk.

Jackie and I have been thinking about Mexico again.  It’s not as if we actually stop thinking about Mexico, in fact, since we last returned from Bahia de Kino, Sonora, pretty much everything we do is in relation to returning to Mexico.

Loving Mexico, its people, its diverse geography, its history, its culture and art, is the easy part.  Getting there is always the challenge.  I don’t mean just driving to Mexico, I mean also all the preparations that are necessary before you even hit the road.  But retirement is about challenges and for us its also about traveling.  Retirement is the time to travel and of course the best time of year to be in Mexico is from fall to spring.

I just read a blog post from a former teaching colleague of mine who will be retiring from teaching at the end of this school year, and the subject of her post was the common dilemma of what to do with your pets if you want to travel the world.  I certainly could empathize.  I left her a comment pointing out that this is a sad truth about pet ownership and traveling when retired.  What to do with those pets who somehow have managed to survive, right along with you, until retirement.  I have to say that, for me, and I think to a lesser degree for Jackie, I worry about the dogs when I have to leave them behind for a drive to the store. I’m thinking to myself, Will they be there when I get back?

We’ve been to Mexico twice and left the dogs behind, under the care and supervision of Jackie’s sister, Erica.  We made an agreement, so I could rest easy about them, that I would Skype Erica once a week while we were in Mexico so she hold each dog up to the camera on the computer so I could make sure they were all right.  It helped, but the dogs looked too relaxed; I thought they would at least look as worried as I was feeling.

Now, we take them with us to Mexico. Or maybe they take us. I don’t know anymore.  There are really no other satisfactory options.  As long as we can drive where we want to go, then we can take the dogs.

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We got a late start this morning.  Since we needed to stock up on supplies, we went to the local IGA market.  It was raining off and on all morning.  I sat in the Coach House while Jackie went inside to do the shopping.  At this point in our trip we were both exhausted from the pace and monotony of traveling.  The sameness of driving four or five hours then stopping for the night at a campground and then starting over the next day and the day after that had finally taken its toll on whatever “joy” that came from the act of traveling.  At this stage in our trip, we just wanted to get home as soon as possible.  I realized that if we wanted to do any exploring of the areas where we stopped, we would have to stay more than just one day.  It occurs to me that the whole point of this trip, apart from the act of traveling and camping in the Coach House, was to get to Blackduck and Blaine, Minnesota.  That accomplished, when we finally left Minnesota, the goal was simply get back home.  We could have spent more time exploring the places we traveled through, but with the cost of campgrounds and especially the cost of gas to keep the RV on the road (which averaged out to be about $90.00 dollars a day), the trip was already on the expensive side.  Traveling in the Coach House is comfortable enough; it has everything you need to make the experience pleasant. But at this point, Coach House is not for us.  When we stayed in Kino for a lengthy period of time, it was much more pleasant, though we had no freedom of movement to explore the area if we wanted.  Now, I think we will try to sell the camper when we get back home.

To make headway, we decided to try to drive all the way to Spokane, Washington before we stopped for the night.  The weather was improving, and driving through Montana again, gave us a different perspective of the state.  As the clouds begin to clear, the blue sky was vivid and the panorama dramatic:

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The elevation once you’re in the state can be anywhere from 4 to 6 thousand feet, often with roads that slowly curve, then rise and fall.  Little towns can suddenly appear as if out of nowhere, their church steeples often the first clue that a town is approaching.  Here are a few more examples of Montana church steeples that seem to be everywhere:

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I kept my camera close by as I was driving.  The steeple shots are taken through the windshield of the rig then cropped and leveled later using Photoshop.

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Often what you see first is the steeple itself, pointing upward toward the sky:

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A final shot:

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