A TX Road Trip to Remember
On the road, and brainstorming blog material all the while, I had an interesting chain of thoughts evolve from a US Highway road sign.
From New Mexico, USA
Anyone know what a Safety Corridor is?
While driving through northern New Mexico, I passed a sign that read:
Safety Corridor - Speeding Fines Doubled.
After noticing the third one, I turned to Google for a little enlightenment.
According to the NM Dept of Transportation, the Safety Corridor Program was enacted to lower the fatality rate on the Interstates crossing New Mexico, particularly Hwy 285, which is known as the "Highway of Death."
A Safety Corridor is a signed stretch of Interstate with a reduced speed limit (often approaching and passing through small towns), that has been "statistically analyzed and found to have high crash rates and fatality rates." (Reference.com)
There are several designated stretches throughout New Mexico.
I also found it interesting that other states have Safety Corridors as well, but they are referencing different things. Arizona for example has Safety Corridors for selected highway segments that serve for special driver education, or indicate increased highway patrol.
In any case, their goal is to prevent accidents and has proved effective.
High Winds Likely
Continuing East, into Texas, it didn't take long to feel incredibly small, and almost lost, despite my Waze app reassuring my every turn. When you leave all "modern civilization" and enter the vast acreage of ranch land occupied by no more than the cattle grazing and pronghorn prancing, you start to feel the size of Texas.
You also feel a bit of wind; the power of which Texas has indeed invested into harnessing. Never have I seen so many windmills anywhere; seas of them (hundreds!) across the State turning in sync. It was an incredible sight.
Sometime late morning, while stretching my legs at a rest stop, I received notifications that had been waiting in the abyss of no-service-land, and I noticed that there were some high winds blowing through WA as well.
Odd that there were a few posts that surfaced at about the same time that were opposite the usually positive, helpful, 'lift-you-up' messages we are all accustomed to here. I may have commented on one or another had I been in the office, but as I continued down the highway, I felt relieved that I was on the road and chose not to give them a second thought.
Reflections of Texas
Texas is a BIG state. After driving almost 700 miles across it (then back), I think I'm done exploring it via my truck. That is one road trip I do not plan on making a second time. I'd definitely go to Texas again and see other areas, but I'll fly next time.
North, West, and Central Texas look like the picture above...for as far as the eyes can see. The towns are small with many old abandoned deteriorating buildings, but we did see new growth in some areas.
When in Amarillo, the Big Texan Steak Ranch is a must stop. This kid friendly restaurant and gift shop is one unique place. It's home of the 72oz steak - Free if you eat it all in under 60 minutes - and it's been eaten by both kids and adults! We sat next to a man from Poland who gave it a go. Didn't make it, but left with a tee shirt and a smile. We left with about $60 in souvenirs.
In Wichita Falls, we stopped at the BackPorch Drafthouse, and I can't say enough nice things about that place. Great food (I had the Catfish Poboy and Sweet Potato fries). Cool atmosphere inside and out. We opted to dine on the patio. Wonderful, engaging staff. The manager even made rounds and visited our table twice, once just to talk to my boys! They made me a great Jalapeno Bloody Mary!
When we reached East Texas, the land changed considerably. Gone were the large spans of cattle ranches, and the wind farms. In their place stood the tall trees of the Sabine National Forest. At night, we listened to the sounds of thousands of tree frogs and watched the glow of fireflies, which brought happy memories of catching them as a little girl.
Also prevalent that evening were the mosquitoes, and they generously gave us welcoming. I guess they knew we were from out of town, as all the essential oils and mosquito spray in the world didn't keep them off of us!
We shore fished off of the Sabine River, alongside a boat ramp that just the day before had a sunbathing gator. Hoping to spot one (not too close), we left without a sighting, but with all limbs attached, which was probably for the best.
In the little town of Hemphill, Texas (population 1198), we were directed by locals to the Patricia Huffman Smith NASA Museum. Unsure of exactly what we were walking into, it left an impression likely to stick with us. It displays the missions of the Columbia Space Shuttle from the first exploration to the last, which ended in tragedy when it disintegrated upon re-entry in 2003. The crash left debris for miles, but it was in Hemphill where personal artifacts and the bodies (parts) of all 7 astronauts were recovered.
Louisiana Southern Fried Chicken
You can't cross the great state of Texas, to stop at the Louisiana border, when possibly the best fried chicken you've ever tasted lies on the other side of the state line.
I may have thought twice, however, had I known I'd be crossing a 2-mile bridge barely above water. It was one of the most uncomfortable feelings I've ever experienced. Every inch felt like a mile, and my anxiety-controlled imagination saw the bridge collapsing before me. (I have a severe and irrational fear of drowning near water - it's my worst nightmare, and why I've never been on a cruise)
Was it worth it? Oh, yeeeees. We ate the best fried chicken we've ever had in our life. And on the way back to our hotel, we passed a drive-thru liquor store! Not something that exists anywhere I've lived, so I indulged in a late night To-Go Pina Colada Margarita to settle my nerves.
22 States and Counting
I had previously been through New Mexico on travels from Arizona, but Texas and Louisiana added two more US States to my list of States visited. It was quite the experience, and just the mental break I needed to hit the reset button. I find it incredibly lightening to be 'out-of-service' and to just enjoy living in the moment with my family.
Back to reality, where works needs to be done and bills need to be paid, I am thankful to be doing what I love. Reading and writing. Tomorrow, it's back to posting articles and comments, reviewing the SAC checklist, and driving more traffic to my site...the only driving I'll be doing for the next week!
It seems the winds have died back down here on the platform. At least I seem to see the business-as-usual posts scrolling across my Dashboard. I hope the gusts of hot air didn't blow anyone else off coarse. All is well, and I'm back to my normal routine here. I look forward to writing a new site post tomorrow, and prepping for my next summer journey!
Thanks for reading about my latest road trip!
Happy Father's Day to all the Father's out there!