Spreading our ‘tiny snowbird wings’ per the Anne Murray song, husband and I occasionally drive to and from the bone-warming Southwest US. We mix up the route, visiting places and snapping gems along the way. Sometimes we zip, others we linger.
It is always a joint effort of planner, researcher, packer, driver and navigator, the roles flexing and morphing all the time. We invite along ‘Helen’ our GPS, aptly named by a nephew as in she has taken us to ‘h-e-double-hockey-sticks ‘n back’. She is not always trustworthy as habitual GPS users know. So we have backups – the printout and the old-fashioned map. Now that we are accustomed, not sure how we would survive without satellite radio too!
Seems that portions of the interstate highway system are always under repair. Narrow single lanes often stretch for uncomfortable distances. Then there are times we note that previous work is complete and isn’t that now just a lovely stretch of perfect road? Highways are always owned by the trucker. Luckily most are courteous, as we also try to be. Never know who’s hopped up or packing! An especially sane attitude since some speed limits are all the way up to 85 mph!
Paris, Texas that is, stood out as the (unseen) 1984 movie by that name came to mind. A little research revealed ‘Paris, Texas’ as something that would be fun to see for a slue of reasons. The movie for Wim Wenders direction, screenplay by ‘Kit’ Carson and Sam Shepard, starring Harry Dean Stanton, Dean Stockwell, Nastassja Kinski (erstwhile partner of Quincy Jones) and music by the wonderful Ry Cooder.
Had much fun with road signs and buildings along the way. We reached Paris, TX via Cairo (Memphis, TN), Detroit, Reno, Commerce and Fate (all in TX). Paris is a town of 25,000, with nicely renovated historic downtown. A nearby mini replica of the Eiffel Tower sports a red Stetson atop, of course!
San Antonio, at the other end of the spectrum with population of 1.3 million, also beckoned for its historic sites.
The best known Alamo is one of a chain of five missions established along the San Antonio River in the 18th century. This became the largest group of Catholic missions in North America, bringing Spanish influence north from Mexico.
San Antonio de Valero, a.k.a. the Alamo was established in 1718. It is a strong symbol of American pride and freedom as it is associated with the hard fought 1836 battle for Texas independence. The nearby red metal sculpture entitled
‘La Antorcha de la Amistad’, Spanish for The Torch of Friendship and presented by the Mexican Government in 2002, speaks to the eternally entwined cultures in this state. The other four missions are located within San Antonio Missions National Historic Park. An easy drive-through proves highly interesting and photogenic.
No visit to San Antonio is complete without meandering along the River Walk, an eatery-lined pedestrian system located a level below road traffic. This is touristy but fun and tex-mex food quite good.
Never knew Texas is so interesting, but these are just a few of the surprises we have encountered on the road.
Because it is a quintessential road trip classic and I have recently seen a trailer for coming like-named movie remake, a quote from Jack Kerouac’s 1957 work, ‘On the Road’ seems fitting:
“…the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!”
Mad friends, fireworks and road trip ‘aws’ are what make life pop…