In Defense of Texas

...but a couple quick asides first.
I'm scared at how many of us share in the peeling/picking habit! I posted yesterday's random piece after midnight (so I guess that makes it today's random piece), after I'd been blog reading and commenting for hours. I was a wee bit out of it when I wrote it. This morning, while I was getting ready for work, I thought, "Oh, no. What the heck did I post last night? People are going to protest my blog in disgust over the divulgence of my skin-peeling obsession." But, no! Check out all of the comments on that last post, Mom. I don't want to be scolded any more for messin' with things! As far as I can tell from a random sampling of bloggers, it's a completely common drive. Peel/pick on, girls!
Also, a quick note to let all of you bloggers know that the neurotic commenting that I do on yours and others' blogs is not at all out of a feeling of obligation (or stalkerdom, for that matter), but rather because I am so energized and driven by your collective creativity that I am compelled to let you know how much it means to me. So you can try beating me off with a stick, but I'm still commenting, y'all.
So... that "y'all" is my attempt to turn things in the direction of Texas. My intent is not to drive up the tourism rates to the Lone Star state, but I do feel a need to let you in on the wonders of this amazing state - a state which I, at first, had no interest in going to. I had all of the pre-conceived notions about Texas that many of us come to the table with, but honestly, I can barely remember what the stereotypes about Texas are anymore becuase three visits in the past three years (yes, I love it that much - I mean, it's not like it's on our way anywhere - these are intentional trips we've been making) have completely changed my impression of Texas. I should note that Barry and I have been really enamoured with a particular vacation format of sorts over the past six or so years, and that trip pattern is part of what has made our visits to Texas (as well as Portugal, Spain, France, Belgium, several states in the the northwest U.S., the southwest U.S., the southeast U.S., and other destinations) so enjoyable. The plan starts with both of us getting into some good literature and music from or inspired by the region we'll be visiting. In this case, Cormac McCarthy's border trilogy and T.R. Fehrenbach's Lone Star and Comanches (for Barry, the non-fiction reader) played big roles. Second, we plan our trips as kind of fly-and-drive excursions. Really, I can't think of a trip that the two of us have taken that hasn't been a roadtrip of sorts. Oh, and I use the term "plan" loosely. Often we travel without reservations at hotels or motels (this trip being an exception - you'll see why) and go where and when we please. And we always make sure that, even if we're visiting big cities, we find little "middle-of-nowhere" towns that, without fail, have ended up providing us with great meals, vintage/junk finds, photographs, and stories. So, without further ado (I mean, I can't play the after midnight card that I used for the skin peeling post to justify this rambling), I present my defense of the wonderful state of Texas. I love Texas for:

awesome live music,performed by bands like Heybale, who are the house band every Sunday
at the Continental Club in Austin

the Hotel San Jose, also in Austin - I would live there if I could,
which is why we make make an exception and make reservations

more vintage sources than you can shake a stick at... also in Austin

well-planned and maintained running trails and parks along the Colorado River

the world's best Barbecue, hands down,
served on sheets of paper (that do a great job of soaking up the fat)
at Kreuz Market in Lockhart

the slow pace and peaceful views in Marathon

Big Bend National Park - I get a lump in my throat just thinking about it's beauty

vegetation that is far more dramatic than what I'm accustomed to
in the northeast and midwest

the Rio Grande

the option of walking over a bridge to hang out in a Mexican town square in Ciudad Acuna

ghost towns and their cemetaries

the coolest 0ne-traffic-light town of Marfa,
which hasn't let the art scene that has moved in take over its character

the Thunderbird Hotel in Marfa,
which was origianlly owned by the Hotel San Jose's owners, so you can't go wrong

high desert weather that causes a sunburn one day and snow flurries the next

Liberty Bar in San Antonio

freight trains

towns untouched by the passing of time

big, quiet, open spaces

I'll admit - other than Austin and San Antonio, I haven't been to the big cities of Texas, which probably have a very different feel than the southern and western portions of the state that we've vistied. But all I can say after our third fabulous trip is... Don't Mess with Texas! Really.


Shona said...

Sounds like you had a grand time. I base my preconceived notions on my family, who are ranchers from the SE corner. My boy also used to work in the Beaumont area (he has a name for that area, but I won't get nasty about Texas here). One thing I can say is Texans L*O*V*E their state + I'm sure would be quite happy if it did become its own country. I do love the southwest, which you have captured very well in your photos, although I have spent more time in NM. I love the vast openness, the amazingly giant rock formations, the decay of the old towns + yes, tumbleweeds. I used to take driving/ mountain biking trips- find a fire road + head out into the desert. I can understand your draw to the desert.
*Incidentally, I was born on TX Independence Day + I was the only grandchild whose birthday my grandfather could remember because of this.

erin said...

Well, you two had fun, didn't you? I really like your version of vacation. That is precisely what Fatty and I did for our honeymoon 11 years ago (!). We flew to the pacific northwest and Alaska, visited national parks, big cities, etc. and put over 3000 miles on rental cars over a three week period. My kind of trip.

I love your photos from this trip - I am going to show them to Kate when she wakes up. There is so much she can look forward to!

Lesley said...

Texas looks like an amazing place. What are these preconceived ideas people have of Texas? *Spot the British person!* I know the wildlife is supposed to be good. My parents have been twice for the birds.

Mom said...

Ah, Suzy, I was able to refrain from commenting yesterday, but could no longer hold back today!!! It's not the peeling description I have a problem with, it's the sunburn!!!! You know what the dermatologist said about skin cancer and the need to wear sunscreen! That is my concern with all the sunburns you have had over the years! Now I've had my say on that and so will tell you how much I loved seeing your photographs and am wondering if any of them will translate into your jewelry? Looks like you and Barry had a wonderful, relaxing time and hope the re-entry into the work world wasn't too difficult. So looking forward to seeing y'all the end of this month! Love, Mom

Funky Finds said...

Texans love you too! :) So glad you enjoyed your trip to our grand & glorious state. Come back soon!!!

Robyn said...

While I'm not completely convinced, that looks like you had a great time. :0) I think the small towns are intriguing.

Nadia said...

I want to travel too! Pack me along next time, k?

Kristine said...

These are great pics!
Pretty cool...
I can't wait to see the jewelry inspired by this trip!

Chickenbells said...

Wonderful...TX has so many open spaces...I laughed when I went to visit a pal in Austin, and he kept referring to the "hill counrty" and both of us being from N. AZ, I couldn't understand it when he looked at me all hurt when I was laughing and asking, "what hills?" I mean, come on...we're a mile high up here!

It looks like you had a great time...

Sonya said...

A link to order barbecue. Meat by mail - my weakness.

kat said...

Thanks for shedding some light on the big state of Texas. Maybe people have a problem with WHO is from Texas :)

It sounds like you had the best trip. Your photos, as always, are fantastic.

As I scrolled down, I felt like I was sitting in the backseat of your car, leaning forward between you and Barry, watching the gorgeous scenery fly by! :)

Rachel S. said...

I'm in love with the 3 vegetation pictures...especially the one in the middle. What is that?

Lovely photos!!

traci said...

oh geez i love that san jose hotel!! you are so right, i'll move in there with you, just name the date!

thanks for sharing these gorgeous photos, makes me want to get on a plane right now and go for a road trip of my own.

amandajean said...

it was nice to read about your trip to texas...I have never been there but have heard a lot about it (mostly negative). it was great to hear the good things about it.

And I love it that you comment so regularly...it's really great. I, for one, appreciate it so much. why would we try to beat you off with a stick??? ;) your blog is just so lovely and fun to read. keep up the good work (for lack of a better term)!!!

Anonymous said...


This is an advance warning--your mother-in-law is getting ready to pile on about the sunburn!!!

Great post about the vacation.


Anonymous said...

Take it from one who has been treated for four skin carcinomas and is being treated for sun-damaged skin (remember the bright red spots), ALWAYS use sun protection and NEVER get burned.
Mothers are always right!

Miss Twiss said...

I proposed to my guy to take this vacation. Marfa and it's contemporary art scene is the place for me to see! Austin too. April is the perfect time too, away from the SXSW and with the desert in bloom. Good choice. Different for me and I'm gonna investigate.

http://afancifultwist.typepad.com said...

Oh, I love hearing all of these stories from you! And I took you as the quiet type!!! Love the pics.. I want that barbecue now...You made me hungry!!!! xxo,V

Erin said...

Yes I agree Mothers are always right - hee hee. Well actually now that I am a Mother I agree! I have religiously been putting on my sunscreen. Got to protect my Irish freckled skin! :o)

What beautiful pictures of your trip to Texas. Thanks so much for sharing them. I love the Red floor in the motel. Since seeing your photos I might actually want to check out Texas.

BTW...I love your comments on my blog and often want to reply to your comments but I can't as I don't have your email. So if you would like my email address here it is: erinsoriano(at)shaw(dot)ca

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

jada said...

Loving the pics of Texas. They have captured the dry, wide-open space of the state. Kinda reminds me of one of those Clint Eastwood movies. Hope you have more vacations planned.

Sweet Treat said...

Well now... you just blew the stereotype of New Yorkers never travelling for me!!! Love that hotel and the last pic of the untouched town... sort of romantic really! Can I also so say your Mum/ Mom's comment left me laughing on the floor...

Ashley said...

Oh, this hurt my heart a little, seeing these pictures (but in a good way, really). I miss Austin SO much--I love when little bits of it pop up unexpectedly on other people's blogs!