driving to Texas…
i’ve been driving the last four days, repositioning my mom and the family dog, Candy, from Toronto to Houston for the fall/winter months. (yes, repositioning… like a cruise ship, setting up port each season in the place with the most favourable climate. my dad lives in Houston year-round but my mom flees to Toronto when the summer Texas heat gets to be too much.)
first stop was Dayton, Ohio… which was nothing noteworthy (sorry, Ohio!) though i did go to a Cracker Barrel for the first time and i still feel weird about that. (if you’ve been to a Cracker Barrel you’ll know what i mean, right?)
from Ohio we headed into Kentucky and i, having a thing for horses, totally fell in love with the state. rolling hills, miles of wooden fencing—it’s beautiful. we stopped in Lexington and watched a bit of the World Equestrian Games from a live TV in the main square and i got a “Southern Sundae” from one of the food vendors, which i really regret not taking a picture of. so, please imagine: layers of pulled pork, baked beans, and coleslaw topped with a corn muffin, served in a tall glass. (Toronto friends, this will be recreated in the future!)
on our way out of Lexington we detoured about 20 miles into Marion County, to tour the Maker’s Mark distillery in Loretto. bad news: we got there too late to do a tour. good news: we got there just in time to sneak into another group’s tasting.
Nashville, Tennessee was our next stop and, um, secret: i’ve been listening to a lot of country music lately so it was interesting to see the place where it all happens. (even if you don’t like country music, the idea of it being this ridiculous self-contained industry is still fascinating, and do find a way to read this recent New Yorker piece on Brad Paisley.)
the area around our hotel was “Music Alley” which is just an endless neighbourhood of recording studios—even after midnight on a thursday, when i took Candy for a walk, you could still hear songs playing from inside the highest towers. i bought cowboy boots on Broadway and also put Candy on a saddle for a ride outside one of the bars on 2nd Street. Nashville, i will return soon to explore you further.
friday! onward south through Mississippi and Alabama via the Natchez Trace parkway which my sister and mom had spent much time previous to our departure celebrating, because of its beauty and their feelings that it was the “best way to get to Texas”. this is a lie, unless, of course, your driving goals include going as slowly as possible (50mph! are you kidding me?) on a single lane highway through trees and meadows which at first are pretty but eventually just seem like the same roll of stock footage throughout your 5 hour drive. i know this does appeal to some people but i really, really enjoy seeing urban sprawl and country living while i drive and this just wasn’t part of the Natchez Trace.
however, i will credit the Trace with showing me something i have endlessly romanticized: cotton!
cotton fields are stunning. the plants almost look purple, topped with perfect, fluffy white poufs. i ran into a field and plucked off a souvenir boll to bring home, a move partially inspired by my current re-reading of Gone With The Wind but mainly because when do you ever see cotton in its natural state? does the cotton boll count as a skeuomorph—because we process the plant and then mass reproduce it into the original ball shape?
our last night was spent in Ridgeland, Mississippi, where i ate the best oyster po’boy, and from there we forfeited any further pit stops to make it home to Houston within seven hours. and Texas? it’s… the Texas i know and love: fast highways, perfectly humid weather, endless strip malls, and the comforts (aka strong margaritas) of my parents’ house.
however, the journey doesn’t end here! my bff Terra has arrived today and we’re heading out on a road trip of our own. so: more adventure to come, from San Antonio, Marfa, and Austin, plus all the other sights we’ll find deep in the heart of Texas.