Arrive Houston late. Some lady steers my Hertz car out of space 125, toots cheerfully, and is off. (Wonder how she'll persuade the guard: "Yes, I am Cesar Brea...") I arrange a replacement, and promptly get lost somewhere near Hobby.
Later: looking up from the hotel lobby floor is like looking down a shaft on the Death Star. Thirty stories of beige-brown cantilevered soul-crushing sameness. Can't sleep. Accept insomnia, opt for double-header dystopia: the HBO Julianne Moore / Ed Harris / Woody Harrelson docu-drama Game Change about Sarah Palin, then Repo Men.
Morning. I-290 West, toward Austin; it's moonsooning. Vaguely Quixotic: a "Dry-Force Water Removal" van blasts past me doing seventy. Cattle line up near the road, backsides to the storm, in the bovine manner.
Who says frontier towns are dead? They're just spread out more, reflecting today's faster horses. No horseshoes, but plenty of brake shoes. First Church of Such-and-Such -- still here. Saloons? Gringo's Tex Mex, with "Latino Fusion". Doc's specialized, or maybe just re-branded to game insurance billing -- "Drive-in Gynecology Clinic" (really). Depending on local laws -- or lack of them -- gentlemen's clubs = brothels by another name. Fireworks - pawn - gold - boots - tack - guns - ammo. Plus, still plenty of 'tude:
I cross the Brazos. (Always wanted to say that.)
"We got all your outdoor needs." Even if those extend to giant welded roosters:
Obligatory BBQ stop. Chopped BBQ sandwich, slaw, jalapeno at the Lost Pines BBQ in Giddings. Highly recommended for friendly service and great food:
McDade: two chihuahuas play by the road.
They jump into the traffic.
Doing sixty, I swerve and miss.
The tractor-trailer behind me doesn't.
Crosses, mostly singly, sometimes in bunches: "Have you found Jesus?"
Austin, 30 miles: "Do you know Linux?"