Checking in from Point, TX …
As we travel through various parts of the country, we are encountering new foods, not always heart healthy but part of the full experience of the trip. Barbeque means beef brisket in East Texas. Steak might be a big slab of grilled beef or chicken fried (battered, cube steak covered with milk gravy). And then there are “kolaches” which are a staple in every donut and pastry shop. Kolaches look like what we think of as “pigs in a blanket.” They come in different sizes and flavors, stuffed with hot dogs or brats, and appear to be a breakfast favorite of Texans.
We expected to see horses in Texas, and there are plenty—Arabians, quarter horses, even mules and burros. It was surprising, however, to find ranches devoted to miniature horses. One such ranch outside Quitman had at least 50 miniature horses in the pasture including the world champion at stud. These little animals are raised to be companions or pets and come in various colors and coat patterns. To qualify as a miniature horse, they cannot be taller than 38 inches from the ground to the highest part of the mane. If you want one as a pet, they’ll be with you for awhile as the hardly little animals usually live for 25-35 years.
Housing in East Texas is predominantly in one-story ranch houses, also called rambler houses. While the ranch house supposedly originated in California, Texas has perfected the style. Many have a bunkhouse look with a low front porch all across the front. There is so much land that it makes sense to build out instead of up. It is actually rare to see two-story homes.
In many small Texas towns, we see older buildings surrounding a courthouse square. These buildings are typically two stories with flat roofs and brick, stone or stucco fronts. For an Easterner, many look like miniature Alamos. Some of the towns are refurbished, vibrant and busy. Others have empty storefronts and little traffic. Size of the town doesn’t seem to determine the life of the downtowns. Rather, it appears to be how interested the local citizenry is. Since many of the towns have a unique history, it is sad to see those that “close up” and give up their bragging rights. Fortunately, several towns get it and greet visitors like us as new friends with whom they love to share their stories.
The roads and traffic are not what we are used to. Even though driveways enter the roadways, the typical two-lane roads generally have 70 mph speed limits which the drivers take full advantage of. Many of the roads lack shoulders and have 18 inch high wild oats growing right up to the pavement. Stoplights are rare with four-way stops letting the speeders get through quicker. Almost everyone drives a pickup truck. And like the rest of the states, the roads are not designed for pedestrians, and drivers don’t particularly want to share the road. It does keep you awake just trying to avoid being run over. One more thing about most every state since we left North Carolina and particularly about Texas—they are not big on convenience stores. Except in the towns, you can walk 20 miles or more and never find a place to get a cold drink or, in my case, find a public restroom. Still fighting those kidney stones.
But don’t get us wrong, we are enjoying Texas. We’ve met many friendly folks and made several new friends. I’m still fascinated by the longhorn cattle. And we keep seeing funny things along the pathways and even in the cemeteries. Pee Wee’s tombstone is a good example—either he or his family had a good sense of humor.
I lost a day Monday when the large kidney stone I have been carrying decided to move. The attack sent me to the emergency room at the regional hospital in Greenville, TX. After an extremely long wait (4 hours), I got good care and some meds along with permission to keep walking but to shut down when attacks come. Looks like I will fight this battle until the end of the trip and that stone can get blasted.
Thanks to Melanie Stroschein at Cedar Cove Landing RV Park, who gave us a complimentary two night on beautiful Lake Tawakoni while we are in the area. So many nice people like Melanie have supported our trip. Melanie has a special talent…she quilts blankets and throws by hand. She gets together with her friends and they make quilts from old used but clean t-shirts. Normally the quilt has a theme such as t-shirts with school emblems; or themes related to 4th of July; or fishing; or just about anything you could think about. Most of the shirts come from Goodwill, Salvation Army or good friends. She gives away her quilts to well deserving families.
We must be better stewards of our wildlife. Yesterday afternoon we spotted a crane struggling in the lake where we parked the RV. A nearby resident, John, waded out to the bird to see if he could help. Luckily the bird was only twenty feet or so from the bank. John couldn’t lift the bird up because it had managed to tangle its legs and one wing with fishing line. After a few minutes John had cut the lines and brought the crane to shore where we were able to remove more of the line from around it’s neck and torso. The bird was exhausted from fighting the lines an it’s feathers were torn due to it’s struggle. We let it rest on the grass in hopes it would recover and get up and fly away but by morning he had died laying in the same spot. Someone came by later to carry him away. Please be more careful with your disposable fishing line and don’t throw it back in the water.
Looking forward to getting back on the road and seeing more of Texas. Our projected schedule:
Tuesday, May 22 … thru Emory to East Lake Tawakoni (ta wok a nee)
Wednesday, May 23 … thru Quinlan towards Rockwall
Thursday, May 24 … thru Rockwall toward Garland