Sunday, May 10, 2015

What's so great about Texas

As I am visiting family, friends, and loved ones, I've roped in a few bloggers to guest post. The very first request I sent was to jenn (she doesn't like uppercase letters, so I'm super impressed that she used them in this post).  I've known jenn for 25+ years, and through the wacky world of facebook, we reconnected a few years back.  jenn blogs at quirky pickings; as a blogger, she is one of the most honest, vulnerable, courageous, skilled writers out there.   

Erin wanted me to talk to y'all about Texas, and for weeks her email inviting me to write a guest post sat in my inbox, waiting for me to find the words. It's just that there's so much I could say. Ours is not a small state. It's the second largest, second most populated state in the nation. It covers a total area of 268,581 square miles. Crossing Texas from the west's El Paso to the east's Orange means traveling 762 miles. Not so long ago I drove from my home (a northern suburb of Houston) to Lubbock up in the panhandle; it took around ten hours or so, and I listened to ten CDs on the trip. El Paso's closer to San Diego, California than to Houston, by the way, and Beaumont is closer to Jacksonville, Florida than to El Paso. It takes the better part of a day to get out of here, pretty much any direction you go, and that really sucks. But most of us--save for gals like Erin--are so fond of this place that we don't want to leave.

I've been fortunate in that I've gotten to do quite a bit of traveling in my life. I've seen about a third of the United States and toured parts of Western Europe on three separate occasions. I'm always excited to venture out. I'm always glad to be home. It's not that I think Texas is the best; it bothers me when people say it is. I'm inclined to say it's not, actually, that that's pretty conceited and makes us look like assholes, but then I'm hard-pressed to come up with a state that's better. Also every time I watch Lone Survivor and Mark Wahlberg, playing Marcus Luttrell, tells the kid he's from Texas, there's this sudden surge of pride within me--like it really is the best place. Still, it can't compete with other countries. I am in love with England and Wales and the Netherlands and Germany and, closer to home, there's the Pacific and the Atlantic coasts, and their beaches are infinitely, infinitely better than ours. But Texas has managed to produce some pretty nifty stuff.

That right there's the best flag ever made. In 1831, Mexico gave settlers of Gonzales, Texas a cannon to be used in fending off the Comanches. Four years later, Mexico tried to take it back. Instead of handing over the cannon, those Texans fashioned a flag. And so began the first military engagement of our revolution.

The best thing ever said about Texas was spoken by Davy Crockett: You may all go to hell, and I will go to Texas. There's a popular  bumper sticker: I wasn't born in Texas, but I got here as fast as I could. There's a Texas A&M t-shirt bearing a quote by General George S. Patton, Jr.: Give me an army of West Point graduates, and I'll win a battle; give me a handful of Texas Aggies, and I'll win the war.

What makes Texas so great, I think, is its diversity. East Texas looks nothing like the west: half the state is forest and half is desert. The Rocky Mountains, so prevalent in the American West, trail off in the panhandle so, yes, there are mountains here, though most outside the state argue this. Central Texas' Hill Country, near San Antonio and Austin, has the prettiest terrain. Then there's the culture: a lovely blend of Southern charm and chivalry, Western ruggedness and simplicity and Southwestern boldness and vitality. The food, the drinks... the booze: we make a lot of yummy yummy goodness here, like the breakfast burrito, chicken fried steak, king ranch casserole, Dr. Pepper and Shiner Bock. And the people... Texas is a veritable melting pot, indeed. I think a lot of that is because six flags have flown over this state: Spain, France, Mexico, our own, the Confederacy and the United States. And part of that is because, well, America's been a haven for so many.

It's gonna sound really corny, but I'm quite fond of the shape of our state. So many in America look like blocks. And then there's Texas, much of its border defined by the rivers and the sea.

What makes me love this place? The trees--the oaks, the  magnolias and the pines. Driving the backroads is one of my favorite things to do. That trek I made to Lubbock? I took the long way (because it doesn't matter how you go; your ass is gonna be planted for an unbearably long time) so I could enjoy the scenery. And my street looks like this nine months of out the year:

On those days when my inner landscape is so dreary, sometimes all I have to do is take a walk.

Winter lasts about four weeks; the temperature rarely drops below forty, and snow and ice are anomalies. Sure, it gets hot here, but I have a feeling y'all know what that's like. And yeah, there are hurricanes, and those can be pretty scary, but then we live an hour away from the Gulf of Mexico, which is little more than a cesspool (I'm only being honest... really, y'all, our beaches suck, but at least we have some).

There's lots to do here. It's a good place to be. Mostly? There's the swimming; the only good thing I can say about the university of texas is that they have a damned fine swimming program, one of the best facilities in the country and some of the best swimmers, like Brendan Hansen, Ian Crocker and Aaron Peirsol. And there's the football, but I'm sure Erin's told you about that.

Actually I haven't talked much about football...that gives me a future blog post idea.......


  1. How can you not love Texas?! ;) My favorite description of the different regions is the old man in the movie Bernie. If you haven't seen it, you tube that clip!

  2. I forgot the vodka. Tito's, y'all. Tito's.

    And I'd meant to include a link to a post I'd written a while back. For Christmas two years ago, the folks gave me a five-day trip to any of the continental states. There are a lot I haven't seen that I'd like to see. I'd gone to Twitter to narrow down the choices, which inspired this post about Texas:

  3. Texas is a great place. I imagine I'll end up living there at some point.

  4. I've only been to Texas once, I'd love to go back. I wish I lived there purely for the weather!

    1. hopefully it wasn't to see dallas, lubbock, odessa or el paso.

  5. I have never been to Texas, only Nevada, Colorado and Utah (and I really loved the nature there) but it's pretty impressive that your state is pretty much twice as big as the whole country I come from (Germany). :) And 275 times bigger than my home state.

    1. i've been to germany!! if you guys didn't have snow, i would totally live there!


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