The Nexus of Texas (and Lexus)

26 09 2009

The freeway system in Texas is horrible.  Actually, that’s not true.  There’s clearly no system in place at all, and there are often highways adjoining highways that lead to the same place and have the same names.  Would you like to take 360?  Sure!  Just take it, or the frontage road next to it (no, not the road named Frontage Road, which is a completely real name of a real road in Texas) and you will wind up at your destination, which happens to be an address ON THE FREEWAY.  I mean, I don’t know too many people who live at 1319 I-5, Los Angeles, CA, but apparently this is a normal thing in Texas because they have roads called freeways/highways (the distinction really means nothing down there, for all intents and purposes) that actually look exactly like the roads on those navigation system commercials that show people driving their convertibles high above the clogged freeway.  Except these roads are about 30 feet from the unclogged freeway, and are often impossible to get off of.  But you can always find a Whataburger.  Apparently they have good tacos, or so the locals told me.  Just what I was wondering.

Critters.  They have grasshoppers as big as your fist.  They have other things that I don’t know what they are except for all I know is they are huge and kind of cool until you see a parking lot littered with their crushed bodies, covered by a mist of the live ones hovering, ready to disembowel their brother and sister locusts.  Of course, this is the least of your problems when you have coyotes wandering around a mile from your hotel on the side of the highway.  (Granted, I’ve seen coyotes in Los Osos too, but you just don’t expect it in a “big city” area like Dallas.  Or Irving, technically.)  Also it was “bring your dog to the ballpark” day at Arlington, but we (thanks to Amy) got seats that weren’t quite as “interesting” as I’m sure the upper deck area was.  It was nice and warm that day too, which must have augmented the aura quite beautifully.  Incidentally, anyone who owned a Lexus got free valet parking at the Ballpark.  Of course, is it really free when you have to stand in line for thirty minutes to tip the valet who has to pick your car out among the horde of other silver Lexuses (Lexi?).

Demeanor.  I’ve taken four trips to Texas in the past ten years, and I’ve always been warmed by the affable and kindly manner in which I am approached.  Everyone from the cook at the barbecue buffet who told me to get a clean plate to the salty gentleman walking up to the stadium with us was as polite and easygoing as you could imagine.  It’s simply a given over there that you are neighbors with those around you.  Although I encountered some exceptions (we call them “jerks” here) at times, it was a pretty hard and fast rule that you will be treated with both familiarity and respect in most any situation.  Culturally, it’s one of the more attractive things about the area.

Weather.  While it was actually ok for most of our stay, (“ok” being high 80s, no rain, decent humidity) the potential for ice storms and triple digits at any given time is a little bit of a discouragement for those looking to emigrate.  Certainly, the lightning storms are cool to watch, but not when you’re wondering if you might have been just an inch too tall to be alive in ten minutes.  And the humidity, really.  I mean, John and I jogged our way to Cowboys Stadium just in time to see kickoff, but our clothes were absolutely soaked before we even sat down.  We’re talking actual liquid dripping noticeably from our shorts as we’re standing up during the national anthem.  I think sweat would work better as a coolant if it didn’t constantly remind you of just how hot you were in the first place.

Food.  I’m surprised people can actually buy life insurance in this state, since Taco Bell is probably the healthiest thing there.  Meat is a given at every part of every meal, and often the only part.  (Fogo de Chao being an obvious instance of the latter)  Their food comes swimming in barbecue sauce, fried, battered, buttered, glazed, and ready to be refilled as soon as your plate looks half-empty.  In case it isn’t obvious, this is a huge point in Texas’s favor.  I mean, shouldn’t all food be more like the Double Western Bacon Cheeseburger?  Lots of potato salad, coleslaw, and Dr Pepper.  Dr Pepper.  Amy embarrassed us at one place by actually asking them if they served Dr Pepper there.  I assume she was also planning on asking if they served oxygen, but the subsequent wail of despair from the kitchen drowned it out.

Those are just some “high-lights” of the trip, but actually experiences will be put to paper (e.g. not paper) in the future.  I could see myself living there, though.  If not for Los Osos, that is.