Saturday, March 18, 2017

Texas In Our Rear-View Mirror

Nothing makes a road trip more enjoyable than connecting with old friends and making new ones. Lucy and Ethyl left Boerne, Texas, Monday morning, March 13, bound for home after a stop in the Houston area. Judy Salyer, a friend from Ashville, moved there about a year and a half ago, along with her mother, to be near her sister. By the time we got home, we had made a new friend, although we’ll probably never see him again.

We wore our new road trip shirts purchased from Buc-ee’s, a convenience store that is spreading like prickly-pear cactus all over Texas. We already had road-trip tees from Gruene, TX, but they had a small logo on the front and a large one on the back. Our new ones feature an old pickup truck with the words “country deep” on its tail gate, “Luv N” on its license plate, and “Road Trippin” in huge letters on the front. Now we can face the camera head-on instead of looking back over our shoulders. Much less awkward.
Elaine & Judy in front of her apartment

 We arrived at Judy’s apartment in Kingwood, a Houston suburb, about 2 p.m., and there were plenty of hugs to go around. Her complex has lots of activities for residents, including weekly movies, water aerobics, dancing to live music and its own fitness center. Judy teaches a painting class, attends a local church that picks her up on Sundays, and goes to Bible study at another church at least once a week. She has a more active social life than I do! “I’m the happiest now that I’ve ever been,” she remarked. She was disappointed that we could stay only two hours, but we wanted to get to Carthage by nightfall. We had an adventure planned for the next day. 

Ethyl had discovered an obscure piece of Texas history that was smack dab on the border between Louisiana and Texas, off FM 31 if you’re leaving The Lone Star State. A relic from the days when Logansport, Louisiana, was the western edge of the American southwest, it is the only known international boundary marker in the United States. It was placed there in 1841 to separate the Republic of Texas from the U.S. The Texas Historical Foundation purchased this site to provide public access to the early boundary marker. If you’re a history buff, it’s worth hitting the back roads to see it.

When we made a pit stop at the Mississippi welcome center on I-20 (we don’t always take the back roads home), I spotted a young Asian man fiddling with his camera. There was no one with him, so I offered to take his photo in front of the “Welcome to Mississippi” sign, with the mighty river in the background. He readily agreed, then took pictures of Lucy and Ethyl with our cell phones and his own camera. Imagine our surprise when he flagged us down a few hours later at the Alabama welcome center! He seemed genuinely happy to see us, and we made another round of photos in front of the “Welcome to Alabama” sign.

Instead of stopping for lunch, Ethyl and I snacked on the remaining cheese, nuts and summer sausage I had brought from home in a cooler. Dinner would be our meal of the day, and when I mentioned Tuscaloosa, Ethyl said she’d like to try Dreamland Barbecue. We found the original location, and we weren’t disappointed. In the beginning, the joint served only ribs and white bread, but it has added traditional sides such as cole slaw, baked beans and potato salad to its menu over the years. Each if us had a half-slab of ribs; Ethyl accompanied hers with potato salad, I had the slaw. Yum!

We arrived home about 8 p.m., and after feeding my barn critters, we decided to try a shot of the Códego 1530 tequila I had purchased in Texas. George Strait is a brand partner and investor in this top-shelf tequila that was until recently a private, nameless product distilled for four generations by the same family in Amatitán, Mexico. There are five tiers in the brand, and I bought the middle one, the reposado. Frankly, it isn’t worth the price, at least not when sipped au natural. Maybe I should reserve my judgment until I’ve had it in a margarita. Then again, maybe my taste buds just aren’t as refined as those of King George.

The next planned adventure of the Back Roads Babes isn’t until next December, when we’ll see George in concert in Las Vegas and attend the National Rodeo Finals. Yee-haw!

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