If I had to list my top-ten things I love to do in the world, extended car trips would be one of them (I’ll detail the other nine later).
Be warned it is country music for
those that find such things offensive.
As a kid we almost always drove to our vacation, which was usually in Northern New Mexico. So we had a nice twenty hour ride in the car seeing small towns, eating interesting food, exploring new and shockingly disgusting roadside facilities.
We’d head north Oklahoma City and then strike west, roughly following old Route 66. At some point as a kid i remember spending 15 or so hours with a walkman on my ears, just staring out the window watching the scenery go past. Seeing small towns fly by at 80 Mph (65 when my mom was driving), wondering what the hell people did for fun in Dumas or Dalhart or Roy. Two lane, back-roads, the blue-highways of the state, Farm-to-market and Ranch-to-Market roads (do they even have those in other parts of the country, or is that a Texas thing ?). Cross the empty stretches of far West Texas in the middle of the night and you’ll see stars, and hear silence shouldn’t be physically possible.
You hit the back roads and you find places like Cornudas, the restaurant on US180 coming out of Hueco Tanks that’s also name of the town (a town so small it doesn’t even show up o the map so I’m not certain about the spelling). You can buy one of three things on the menu, and a terra-cotta virgin mary all a the same counter. Or Weikel’s in La Grange, a Czech bakery on Texas 71 that makes the best turkey sandwich you can get between Austin and Houston. Austin’s BBQ in Eagle Lake: I’ve never driven by and not seen these old guys outside stoking the cooker (morning or night) in a converted gas station that’s packed to the rafters at lunchtime. Roll down your window as you drive down FM102 through town and you’ll discover yourself suddenly famished.
When you have the choice, get off the Interstate, there’s other roads, other ways to go, places to eat beside McDonalds. Go see the real America.