Ozarks to Texas

From Memphis I drove into the Ozark region and spent a week camping on Mount Magazine, the tallest peak in Arkansas. The price was right, the facilities superb, and the hiking decent.

It was pretty cold up there, though. It dropped below 10 degrees a few nights. When you wake up and your bottle of piss is frozen solid it makes you wonder what you're doing camping in the dead of winter when you could be elsewhere...

... and so upon descending from the mountains I made up my mind to hurry to warm weather. I spent a night at Fort Smith then drove south through Oklahoma, stopping in Durant. The next day I drove to Dallas. Upon crossing over the Texas border the landscape changed almost immediately into beautiful, sunny desert. I pulled over at the Texas welcome center and ran prancing around the sand in my t-shirt and sandals (well, not quite - but I felt like doing that...)

I spent 2 nights in Dallas, where I watched the play-offs. I also watched "Gran Torino", which was excellent.

From Dallas I drove to Austin. Austin has the coolest strip of bars I've ever seen, on the famed "6th Street". The bars were big, open, and inviting, most with huge entrances open right onto the sidewalk, and there were many good restaurants sprinkled between them. I attended a showing of "The Wrestler" at the famous "Alamo Drafthouse" on 6th street, where you can order food and drinks while you watch. The seats are arranged so that you have a little counter in front of you and servers can walk up and down the aisles. I ordered a house salad and a vodka on the rocks. The food and drink were good and modestly priced. The movie ticket, since it was a matinee, was only 7 bucks. And the screen and sound quality were top-notch. The Alamo Drafthouse puts all those bullshit, overpriced cineplexes to shame...

"The Wrestler", though, was so painful that afterwards all I wanted to do was go to sleep and forget I'd ever seen it. I'm not saying it was a bad film - no, it was very good, flawed only by a crap ending - it just had a current of extremely depressing emotion running through it from start to finish. So I got in the van intent on driving to a Walmart for the night which, according to the GPS and map, was only 1.2 miles south.

45 minutes later, I arrived, and that was after shutting off the GPS and getting directions from a Shell Station. Something about Austin made the GPS go schizophrenic. It had me get on, off, and back on 35N four times in a row before I wised up to its treachery. There was a lot of construction happening, so maybe that's to blame.

The next day I drove westward - with the GPS deactivated, using my road atlas - aiming for Brady, Texas. This was a glorious little ride through the hills of central Texas. Surrounding me was that delightful "green desert" which I tend to associate with California. Not much in Brady, TX although I was perplexed by the sky-high motel rates advertised: $45, $60, and even $75 for 1 bed for 1 person for 1 night. In Brady fucking Texas. Where do they think they are?

Today I'm in San Angelo, TX, 2 hours from Brady. I'm aiming for New Mexico as I inch westward...

1 comment:

The Roving Gambler said...

Just wanted to drop in and say that I'm enjoying the blog, Jim.

I'm spending the winter in Austin (I'm too much of a wuss to deal with < 25* nights) and I agree it's a cool town. I lived in Round Rock for 2 years before I started the van life.

I frequently sleep at Wal-Marts, so it's possible we were in the same parking lot on the same night.

My GPS also gets confused with I-35. It often gets the north and south 35 on-ramps mixed up. But it's been doing that for a couple years, before the construction.