Driving in Texas can leave a person a lot of time to think. Despite myths and stereotypes classifying everything as dusty and flat the landscape is actually quite diverse, from the forests and lakes of the east to the mountains of Big Bend and the rolling hill country of the central part of the state there is more to the roadside scenery of Texas than tumbleweeds, scrubland and snakes. Except for the part that I was presently driving it, of course!
Having paid about 30 minutes of respects at the graveside of one Buddy Holly in Lubbock, Texas the fastest way out of town to my next destination, Dallas, was US Highway #84 to Sweetwater and from there on Interstate #20 straight in past Abilene and around Ft. Worth. Once in Dallas I was planning a couple of weeks visiting with various friends in the area that I missed greatly since moving away in 1994 to further my career with my then employer. That employer furloughed me and 20,000 other staff less than a month after September 11th which is how I found myself on this journey of purging and self-discovery in the middle of the United States Southwest region.
This was also one of many long stretches between destinations with either little to see in between or little time to really stop and smell the roses as much as I may have liked. Even though I was laid off and had all the time in the world it was not a deliberate goal to spend every waking moment and dollar of my severance to turn every rock in the road for some iota of great revelation. I wanted to spend time in Dallas so down #84 I rode.
I felt the awe of nature at Devil's Tower, a spiritual uplifting at Mt Rushmore and a sense of the old west survivor's fortitude while driving through the plains of Nebraska and eastern Colorado towards Lubbock. This panhandle city of Texas was little more than a rest stop where I wasn't expecting to find much beyond a hotel room and a grave marker but I found a small legacy in that cemetery. Buddy Holly may not be an alpha god in the pantheon of musical art and artistry but he has never lacked for his share of fans and pilgrims since the day the music died.
The sun can set very fast in west Texas though the trip itself was only one third of the way through. Dallas was certainly not going to reveal much to me since I had lived here for many years before moving away. Maybe a few more suburbs and shopping malls but the core of the city was right where I'd left it. This stopover was simply about being off the road for a little while, resting and reconnecting with good friends before pressing on again to Florida. I made it in safely, enjoyed seeing my friends who allowed me to cook for them a few nights in exchange for a bed and hot shower.
Following my time in North Texas it was on through the bayous of Louisiana and the gulf coasts of Mississippi and Alabama before arriving in Central Florida for a one of a kind event that brought every pent up tear pouring from my eyes.