Leaving Ft. Stockton, Texas at 0716hrs and it's 67 degrees. Last night, arriving into Ft. Stockton the rain that had been but a slight sprinkle steadily increasing until it was a full on down pour. It came down in sheets, blown by the wind and dragging the lower temperatures in behind it. We hauled our luggage into the hotel and through the gigantic leak in the sliding door frame. We are just wet enough now for the 65 degree temperatures to cause us to chill. Quickly we dumped our belongings into our room and left to find a place to eat. It's after 1700 hrs and nothing in Ft. Stockton stays open late. We had to hurry.
The GPS was searching all the eating establishments in the small town and we found an out of the way, off the beaten path, small Mexican food restaurant. Rosalita's was a shabby little building but the parking lot was full. This must be the right place.
Once inside, the only waitress in a small room that might have held 10 tables, handed us menus, iced teas and then left us to study the menu. I was more interested in studying the inside of this place. The walls and ceiling were a bubble gum pink while the door trim, baseboards and saloon doors to the kitchen were painted hot pink. A mural was painted on each long wall. I don't want to be too critical here but the facial features on the people that were depicted could have indicated some form of torture. There was nothing natural about their smiles; their eyes wide and looked to be frozen in shock. My imagination started spinning. I could imagine this being a film where the husband and I entered a Rod Sterling world. The people in this restaurant all players that lured us to a horrible fate worse then death. Haven't we all, at one time, felt as though we have stepped into a scene where we are just observers? I don't watch horror shows. I can scare myself enough with out any help.
The scenery surrounding these wall subjects was an imagination of flowers. It wouldn't exactly be described as "impressionist" but more as "cartoonish". The Louvre won't be calling. On the upside, the food was great and of course, nothing horrible happened to us other then having to pay the bill.
The rain continued to pour down and another mad dash was made through the down pour to get back to the truck. By this time the streets are flooded and driving is slow. Ploughing through the water, the spray would wash over the windshield. Our vision would be temporally lost. The wiper blades couldn't keep up with the rain much less the spray. Few people were out driving in this.
A hot bath later, we watched TV until the Ambien kicked in. The rain, lightening and thunder continued and was the last conscious vision I had.
We have over 700 miles to cover today. We won't be home till after 1900hrs. Out the windows, the view is rolling hills, and land dotted with the mesquite bushes so common to this part of Texas. Wind turbines line the horizon, spinning slowly to create energy. A rusty pump jack appears in the distance, collection tanks with their share of rust filter themselves among the sand and mesquite. The power poles are not creosote wooden hangers for the power lines that carry electricity but tall aluminum poles uniform in shape and length. When did wooden poles get cast aside for metal? Towers, for what I don't know, stand tall, a light blinking at the top to warn aircraft of their presence. In country as flat as West Texas, these things stand out; it's what is most noticeable as I haven't seen a house or mobile home for miles now.
0900hrs and the gas gauge is caressing the big "E". The GPS instructs us to take the Sheffield exit and it will be 5 miles to the next gas pump. We do as told. It's desperation time. In 5 miles we arrive in Sheffield Texas and it's lone gas station that shows on the sign that has been crudely hand lettered in red and barely legible, "Gas/1.00 a gal. I'm assuming this place has been closed down for a long time now. We drove down the one street and made a right to drive one block where we saw 3 guys standing out by their truck. Pulling up, rolling down the window, I asked nicely where the nearest gas station was. They wanted to know if we had a debit card. We affirmed that we did and they directed us to Franks. Franks is just 3 huge above ground white tanks sitting in front of a dilapidated building, windows scummy with dirt and grime and a weathered past red painted door, peeling and locked. No human in sight which explains the need for a debit card.
We thankfully pumped a few gallons of gas that will enable us to get to the next town for a fill up. First rule of traveling through this part of the country. Never let the gas gauge get below 1/4 of a tank. We know this but some how we ignored the warning of that reading. I'm grateful we aren't walking. I'll be back later when the surroundings get more interesting. For now, I'm dragging my book out to read. That's the one I reserve for the times we travel through West Texas. 150 miles to Luling and BBQ. It's a must stop on these trips.
1400 hrs. and we are in Luling, Texas. We haven't stopped for lunch until now. Luling barbecue is worth waiting 2 hours past the normal lunch time. We are in the hill country once again. 150 plus miles to Houston and from Houston, another 4 hrs of driving will get us back to Lafayette. I'm looking forward to all these miles being behind me but should another trip appear soon after this one, I will be ready. A few days at the house will be enough especially if a trip directs us north and out of the heat.
1730hrs. and we are about 40 miles west of Beaumont. We passed through Houston during rush hour but the traffic stayed moving so it wasn't too bad.
We just passed the Weinermobile. A large bright orange and yellow weinermobile is something we seldom see so as we passed it, I leaned close to the window to catch sight of the person driving it. The license plate was from Wisconsin and read "Weenie". I asked the husband if he would drive it and his response was "it depends on how much they would pay me", which I guess in this economy, a job is a job and driving the Weinermobile qualifies.
Billboards along the highway are advertising Gulf Coast resorts, seafood's and all things familiar to this part of the USA. I'm home, almost.
I was almost ready to close this down when we noticed cars and trucks pulled over to the side of interstate and the air filled with smoke. A pickup truck was parked with flames rolling out of the cab and smoke thick in the air around it. I expected to feel the impact of an exploding gas tank as we passed. I'm guessing the guy waving his arms and pacing around it was the driver and fearless.
2137 and I'm home! Tired and numb, I'm ready for a hot shower and an early bedtime.