roadtrip chronicles III: sleeping under the mountain star

El Paso, Texas.
Thursday, 7/13/06.

7:30 am.

2,048 miles.

Texas is selfishly big and strangely populated. Yesterday, we drove over 700 miles and about 600 of those miles were spent driving through no man’s land. The road cut into a curiously dry landscape covered in brown brush and cacti. Wrinkled hills and thin-skinned mountains lead quietly into older flat-lands that give nothing to sight besides a horizon held down by the most vast sky I have ever seen. (It seems like the sky is all there is in Texas). The strange part is that all this creation that’s spread out around us comes dotted with concrete monsters that try to swallow us as we yawn along the highway in Joon. Houston almost ate us when we hung onto its teeth for 7 or 8 hours, tempting its appetite.

Will and I finally left Houston and drove northwest. We slept at a truck-stop in Ellington and spent the next morning in Austin. We did our best to keep it weird. After a visit to Zilker Park, Waterloo Records, and the post office, we were off toward San Antonio and beyond. Once San Antonio was out of mind, we entered the 600 miles of gorgeous nothingness that gave me a casual crick in the neck and a speeding ticket. 9 hours later Will and I were in the midst of the El Paso lights. The lights spread out too far to account for in one direction. There was a storm cloud hovering ominously over the city, drilling it with lightning every few seconds. Under the cloud, the sun was setting, and we knew we had to sleep here.

I wondered what it would be like if we got jobs at one of the local Fuddruckers and rented an apartment among the Hispanic footprints. This is something I’ve been thinking about most of the trip, though. When I see shopping malls and Starbucks and neighborhoods, I wonder how different these people’s lives really are from mine. Will and I went to a Walgreens in Houston and I felt like the people there were just like me. They were buying stuff just like me, they all have homes and families and friends. They all wake up in the morning and go to sleep at night and read books and watch movies, maybe even the same movies I watch. I don’t know why this was such a weird thought, but it was. It honestly shook me up for a brief moment. I think I could live in El Paso.

We found a Texas Star made out of lights resting on one of the great hills that overlook the city. The 40 or 50 foot star drew us to it, and we found our way up the hill on a scenic drive bordered by overlooks and coin operated telescopes. We decided to sleep in a neighborhood just below the hill, and drove up to the summit at sunrise this morning. The eastern horizon was on fire. If I am ever in El Paso con una chica, I’m taking her there.

I am both happy and sad to leave Texas behind. Unfortunately, I will probably forget about its beauty for a while when I see New Mexico’s and Arizona’s for the next few days. I’m just like a little kid - both happy and sad, forgetting things I learned yesterday .....and wishing my mom could fix me a PB&J (with no crust).

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