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(Coffee) Shop Talk

Welcome to the shop where I talk about things that go well with coffee, which is almost everything.

I’ve come to the opinion that Texas is not such a wonderful place to live in, but it is an excellent place to drive through.

The visual wonders of Texas are well-documented in country music and O. Henry stories, so it’s hard to describe them in a way that isn’t cliched, but I will try.

For starters, there’s a lot of sky. I know that, technically, everywhere I go has the same amount of sky, but for some reason there seems to be an awful lot more of it when I’m driving down Texas Highway 31. I-20 is a bit more boring, maybe because I have to keep such a close eye on all the big-rigs that are hurtling along beside me and don’t have much thought to spare for the view. But when I’m on open road, something about the unobstructed panorama of blue-blue and the towering white clouds makes me feel pleasantly small.

Driving through small towns isn’t quite as much fun, though. The speed limit drops suddenly from 75mph to 40 or 35, and when you’re really doing 85, that’s a big drop. I’ve never come across such a thing, but I’ve heard plenty of stories about small-town traffic officers who don’t have much else to do besides sit around waiting for people to blaze past a sudden-drop speed limit sign and hand out speeding tickets (which you have to return to that town to pay). The possibility adds anxiety, even when the road is actually clear and you have all the time you need to slow down. The towns themselves are a bit creepy, too. Something about the fact that a 21st century town would have a broken-down Baptist church, something that probably used to be a gas station, a “XXX ADULT GIFTS” store with boarded-up windows, and a pile of tires along its main thoroughfare gives me the heeby-jeebies.

There are a lot of great views between the towns, though. Sweeping pastureland bordered by immense oak and pine trees, picturesque farm houses, Bonanza-esque herds of cows. It’s all quite lovely.

And that’s why I drove down SH 31 West for half an hour out of Tyler when I was supposed to be going east. I didn’t make a wrong turn, I just really like driving in Texas.

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