It certainly has been a while since the last blog and I sure do have alot to catch up on, so here we go.
After the wonder that was New Orleans we were all anxious to get in a car and spend sometimes in excess of 14 hours a day driving, so that is exactly what we did. Emma and Alex the two drivers went to pick up what I can only describe as a red Cheverolet and arrived, excited, back at the India House hostel where Pat and I had spent the the time feasting on gumbo and talking to an odd little fellow about marriage. On their arival we scooped up our bags and hopped in.
A long days driving followed past the oil fields and refineries, as well as the swamps and bayous of Louisiana, alot of which I hear is now underwater. It is a long flat drive only broken up, with alarming frequency I might add, by Penetentiaries. We counted a dozen in the 4 hours it took to leave Louisiana and enter Texas.
During the drive we had alot of time to listen to local radio, which is always a good way to guage the lay of the land in the area you happen to be driving through. As we left Louisiana ad entered the wilds of Texas the radio took a turn for the weird.
"Boycott Home Depot" one particularly fervant preacher screamed into his mic. The reason? Well they employ the most homosexuals of course.
"If Ahmed or Fahmed or whatever he's called wants to get reparations after we LIBERATED THEM..." This was a particularly measured and thoughtful talk radio debate about the mayor of Baghdad having the temerity to ask his liberators for reperations to rebuild his crater ridden, yet free, city back to it's former glory.
All four of us looked at each other open mouthed. There is no doubt, that had this been the UK, the preacher and shock jock alike would have been hauled up on charges and rightly so. This, was all we heard for the remainder of our time driving through Texas. Which took a while.
After a fine drive from Alex and Emma we entered Texas and at roughly 10 o'clock pulled into a horrible little Motel in Beaumont Texas. Beaumont seemed to consist of about 10 churches, the same amount of Fast Food outlets and about 5 Motels. I wouldn't reccommend it as a relaxing holiday destination.
We dragged our bags up into our room and stretched our legs and tried to remove the car journey from our muscles. As I went outside I noticed a car with absolutely irresponsible rims park up as three guys emerged from one of the other Motel rooms. The tinted window came down and something was passed from the window into the eager hand outside it. As this happened, the driver looked up and saw me, seeing him. I put out my cigarette and went back into the room to push something against the door.
The next day we piled into the car and drove most of the day to Austin, which is like a weird island of liberalism floating in a T-Party heartland. The radio stations all retransmogrified from shrieking preachers telling us all gays will die to a plethora of excellent music channels.
We had a good couple of days in Austin, visiting many bars and as well as the state capitol building, which they delighted in informing us was roughly 2 feet taller than the Capitol building in Washington. It's an almost pathological need of most Texans for Texas to be biger and better than everywhere else in the states. Any amateur psychologist could offer you an explanation of why that might be. It was illustrated beautifully while we took our guided tour of the capitol building. I asked a question with regard to what kind of legislation was being passed and we got into a chat with a group of schoolkids, creepily dressed as adults, there with their teacher. The teacher offered extra credit if they could answer me. No driving whilst texting, one proffered. Something I always thought would be covered by basic common sense. Along with a couple of other things that would be so frighteningly obvious you shouldn't be doing them that I had to stifle a laugh. After enlightening us, one of the girls stepped forward and awkwardly whispered "y'all are in the BEST state" then looked at the ground and stepped back into her group. "Oh, right, I see" I replied. The teacher was explaining about a new law they were passing in order to up the minimum fine for being caght driving without a license. "Alot of people just take the fine rather than apply for the license" And by way of further explanation she clasped her hands together with a pained expression and said "We have alot of immigrants".
Austin was excellent, warm all year round with superb bars and live music, something we wouldn't see again for quite some time as the landscape turned to desert.
We drove alot the next few days, through tiny town after tiny town, pausing only to venture into a gun range to see if we could fire some guns. We got three quarters of the way through the process which involved only handing over my fake ISIC student card and writing my name on a bit of paper before we hit the first stumbling block "What gun dy'all want?" The nice lady with the perm and a huge handgun strapped to her side asked. "Errrm, a wee one?" I replied. She eyed us suspiciously and went to talk to her supervisor.
Back on the road not having shot any guns but thankfully, not riddled with bullets we made our way to the Big Bend National Park. Right on the border with Mexico. So close in fact, that at one stage we were skimming stones that were landing on Mexican soil. After walking, woefully underprepared, in heats well in excess of 95F, we rolled over the nastiest looking thorn I've ever seen, in one of the most remote areas I've ever been. We fitted the donut and started to drive, slowly, to the nearest town. 50 miles away.