Archive for November 7th, 2010

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I feel kind of guilty (although someone recently told me that guilt is a wasted emotion), but I didn’t do anything cultural or see any historic sites in El Paso. I simply slept and shopped (and didn’t intend on doing the latter). I considered a brief jaunt over the border – people recommend parking in downtown El Paso and walking over the border – but I knew I had eight and a half hours (nearly 600 miles) of driving ahead of me.

The plan was to meet Katy at her house about 9:30 pm, when she got off work. (She and her roommate have really cool jobs, working in theatre as stagehands.) I wanted to get on the road at a decent hour so that even though it was a long drive, I’d have plenty of time to stop. I wasn’t on the road five minutes when I saw the Tony Lama Boots Factory Store. I couldn’t resist. I was amazed at the prices (so much cheaper than Nashville), and thankful for the very nice saleswoman (who also wanted to fix me up with one of her twin sons). I limited myself to just one pair of brown boots, although I really wanted more, and tried to get back on the road.

Again, I didn’t get far. This time it was the world’s largest Harley Davidson store (Barnett’s) that made me stop. The place is huge and even had a tent sale going on out front. I did show some restraint here, and did not buy a bike (sorry guys).

There wasn’t much stopping after that simply because there’s really not much between El Paso and Austin. Other than pulling over for a couple of historic markers, food and fuel, I just kept driving. (Saw a really cool bike at a gas station. It had Alaska plates and I swear the guy had as much strapped to the bike as I had in my trunk!) Since there wouldn’t be much interruption, I put on my second audiobook of the trip, Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah, which Alivia recommended. It’s pretty good – reminds me a bit of Up Close and Personal, the movie with Michelle Pfeifer and Robert Redford (love that movie).

Texas was the first state where I could legally drive 80 mph. It was also the first state that I thought I was going to accidentally end up in Mexico. I was driving down I-10, minding my own business, when suddenly I arrived at Border Control. You know me, even though I was totally confused, I had to take a picture. Here’s the exchange we had when the Border Control people and their dogs got to my car:

  • Border control: Did you take a picture? And was I in it?
  • Me: Yes, but I don’t think you were in it.
  • Border control: May I see it?
  • Me: Yes. (Show him camera and he flips through the last few pictures, long pause and hands it back.)
  • Border control: That’s fine.
  • Me: Am I going into Mexico? 
  • Border control: Did you want to go to Mexico?
  • Me: No.
  • Border control: Well, I hope you have your passport.
  • Me (dumbfounded): Are you serious?
  • Border control (not smiling): Do you have your passport? 
  • Me: Well, yes, but…
  • Border control (finally cracking a smile): Just kidding, but you are an American citizen right? 
  • Me (huge sigh of relief): Yes. 
  • Border control: You’re all set. Have a good day.

So I guess that’s what I get for driving so close to the border. At least this official was nicer than the Canada border people. Cuter too.  

I made it to Katy’s right on time.( The only place that looked really interesting along the way was Fredericksburg, a quaint, old west looking place, which seemed to really come alive at night.) Ian, Katy’s roommate Michelle’s son, let me in and showed me around before Katy arrived.

In high school I was really close with Maria, Katy’s older sister, and little Nicky and I would often go over her house and visit with her family, which also includes her older brother John. I’m so glad for Facebook because that’s how we all reconnected – except for Maria, who is now Sister Maria Guadalupe of the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mothers of the Eucharist, and principal of one of the Spiritus Sanctus Acadamies. I have to admit that it never occured to me that Maria would become a Sister. (You’re not supposed to call them nuns, although Oprah did when she featured Maria’s Order on her show.) Maria was always my partner in romance, accompanying me to football and basketball games when I had crushes on certain players. Although, now that I think of it, it was usually to encourage my love life, not hers… 

Katy took  me down to Sixth Street, the center of Austin’s nightlife. We were both starving, so went to eat and listen to live music at B.D. Riley’s Irish Pub. The place was understandably packed as both the food and the band – Wheelhouse – were really good. After a bit of dancing, we wandered around town. You could stay for months and not visit every club. It reminded me a bit of Nashville, just with more of a musical variety and a younger crowd. Austin is, after all, a college town. And even though I feel old in college towns, they’re still a blast and always have a great vibe. I could definitely see myself settling in a college town some day…

Read Full Post »