Bentzman in Texas

March 15, 2011

Bruce heads into John Wayne country:

Cruising along Interstate 40 west of Oklahoma City, I saw my first longhorn. They really do have long horns, so long as to appear awkward and clownish.

I didn’t notice any obvious demarcation like a river to announce we were entering a different state, leaving Oklahoma and entering Texas. The pavement changed beneath the wheels, that was about it. But other changes soon became manifest. Fields of grass gave way to scrub. The land appeared dryer and less hospitable. A sharp eye found abandoned homes and shelters collapsing because of neglect, clapboard and brick structures both long out of use. Ms Keogh’s impression of Texas is that it is rusty, dilapidated, and abandoned, but that was likely just the part of Texas we passed through. Several times I saw stables where horses were standing in small muddy enclosures, just standing and staring at nothing, looking sullen. Can horse be sullen? I know next to nothing about horses. The horses had been roaming grassy hills in Oklahoma, mostly eating, but at least in motion. I don’t think they like horses in Texas.

We drove through Armarillo, even stopped, but there was nothing there to hold our interest. Where it wasn’t impoverished and decayed, it was just another mall. Except, I went into a very nice shop, it’s own stand-alone building of brick, a place named Beck. They custom make boots. The place is small and you can see the work being done. Beyond the restrooms were a wall of partitioned shelves filled with hundreds of plaster casts of the feet of regular customers.
http://www.beckboots.com
It was fun to admire and briefly I fancied owning a pair of bespoke cowboy boots from “Amarillo”. It was the only moment of my brief visit to Texas that I enjoyed, but I didn’t act on it. Left Amarillo bootless.

We were happy to leave Texas. The pavement instantly improved into something new and nice. The landscape surrounding us became interesting, even dramatic. The soil darkened. New Mexico is beautiful.

For hundreds of miles the trees and bushes and even the grass seems to lean in the same one direction. They are all swept back. It must be that the wind in constantly from the same direction to have shaped the trees as it has.

This night finds us in Santa Rosa, New Mexico. We have landed on a piece of old Route 66 entirely by accident. The memories of it once being a vital highway are everywhere here, part of the tourist trade. Santa Rosa, we learned, is a famous recreation center known for it’s lakes. Folks come here to fish, scuba dive, hike, and bike. I spend some time discussing the town with the hotel clerk. She grew up here. In another week or two we would not have been able to get a room. They are booked solid through the summer.

We seem to have been very lucky with traffic, never seeing the worse, except for Greensboro. They had an important basketball game while we were there. The home team won.

As I was writing, we are hold up in Santa Rosa, having stopped here only because we were too tired to go further and Tucumcari, which we drove through, was too gruesome to consider. Ms Keogh said of Tucumcari, “the hotels are so cheap they are scary.”

Santa Rosa has a museum of automobiles. Also, there is a bridge here built by Francisco Vázquez de Coronado, or so they allege. I want to see it.

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