Fear and Loathing in Central Texas

San Miguel de Allende, GTO, MX – Nah, no ether in the air-conditioning vents or LSD trips in Vegas casinos. I was just looking for a cool road-trip movie to title this post after.

We’ve been here almost 48 hours, and I’m finally starting to come down from the adrenaline-loaded high that has been the last month of my life. There is undeniably something about this place that forces you to go slower. Perhaps it’s only that you’re so frequently scaling a thirty degree incline at 6000 feet of elevation, but whatever.
We left Fort Collins on Saturday, driving hell-for-leather for eight to ten hour days through Colorado, the corner of New Mexico, and all the way across Texas to end up at the border in Laredo on Sunday evening. Our car, a 2003 Audi A4, was loaded to the gills. We worked hard to keep the inside of the car fairly clutter-free, but basically living inside your vehicle for that amount of time will cause some accumulation of detritus. Both rear floorboard spaces were occupied, which resulted in my son sleeping or reclining on the dogs’ bed for a good portion of the trip (they are small and more than willing to share space). He was also nursing an ear infection that he acquired on our trip to our family beach house in Orange Beach, Alabama the previous week. Wiley (my husband) had found a particularly ingenious spot for my brief case in a crevice between the passenger front seat and the side of the car. We sported a large rooftop box on top, the trunk was loaded to capacity, and three bicycles adorned the rear. We must have been a sight, hauling ass across the heat-scorched plains of central Texas.
We never really considered flying to Mexico, since we’d have all of our stuff with us plus the dogs. One day I’ll write a blog post about what we brought with us, once I’m sure Wiley won’t stop speaking to me when I publicize his vitamin addiction. We thought about buying a bigger car, but talking to a few folks we discovered that recent Audi and Volkswagen engines are virtually identical, and since there are a lot of Volkswagens on the roads in Mexico we figured that most mechanics would know what to do should be have trouble, so we decided to drive the Audi. We bought a Thule rooftop carrier, and I’m sure we went WAY over its recommended 160 pound load limit. Not going to pretend the car didn’t drive a little “heavy”, and yes, if you put it on a lift you’d be likely to see some battle scars on the power train (thank you, aggressively large Mexican speed bumps), but we made it in one piece. More about the car’s near-death experience while trying to maneuver it into its 150 year-old garage at a later time.
Our progress was fairly rapid, but you’re not going to cover sixteen-hundred miles and change in a short period of time. The worst slowdown occurred just north of Colorado Springs, where we encountered traffic that could only be attributed to the annual Renaissance Festival taking place. Our goal for the first day was Amarillo, Texas. When we were about two hours out of Amarillo, Wiley started calling hotels. Sold out. No rooms. Again and again. And again. Turns out there was a big rodeo in town, and there were no hotel rooms in a city of 200,000 people. Luckily the Comfort Inn in the town of Dumas, Texas, about 45 minutes east of Amarillo welcomed us with open arms (although they sold out sometime later that evening; must have been quite a rodeo). We celebrated by drinking a bottle of excellent French wine that Wiley had expertly wedged somewhere in the car when packing out of plastic hotel glasses.
We were on the road just after sunrise the next morning, after a particularly forgettable free breakfast. It’s funny: looking at Google Maps the route from Fort Collins to Laredo looks very direct. But in reality, we spent the day wandering Blair Witch Project-style through south central Texas, turning off of one nowhere four-lane onto another. After ten hours of mind-numbing windmills, oil fields, and dead armadillos, we could have kissed the ground when we arrived in Laredo, were it not a lip-blistering 105 degrees at 8 PM.
More to come later in the week. Lots to tell, still, of the border crossing and the trip through Mexico to San Miguel and moving into our house. And I promise I am reading a book on WordPress and will soon have this place looking a lot more interesting.

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