Thursday, April 5, 2007

What's the Matter With Texas?

Or was it Kansas...?

This post is a big shout-out to Mike I'm An Iraqi. May it never be said I only speak ill of Tejas.

The past year or so I've been traveling a lot to West Texas for work, wind turbine-related projects. Basically I help design the site layout, and these are some big sites too, oftentimes 100 square miles or so. The first couple trips are fun, and seeing the mesas of the caprock of West Texas is interesting, but after a while, it's a little boring.

I've mostly been going to the Amarillo area, but this past week I went to Sterling City, which is about halfway from Abilene to San Angelo, or about 5 hours west of Dallas. This trip came at a really busy time for me, so I wasn't really looking forward to it, but I had some interesting experiences that more than made it worthwhile.

Texas is an interesting place. I think Texas can be boiled down to, "Bigger is Better." Everything is Texas is HUGE! The highways are big, the overpasses are enormous. Even all the highways have frontage roads that are basically highways running on either side of their highways. And the people are bigger, much bigger. I thought Minnesota was the land of giants, but nope, it's Texas. It seems everyone is 6-6 and could play linebacker. I'm not suggesting Texans are fat (5 of the fattest 14 cities), because they don't seem fatter, just BIGGER in every dimension.

But I stumbled on new proof that TEXAS is bigger. At the DQ for lunch one day I ordered a Blizzard and a medium diet coke. This is what they consider a medium drink.

What the...??? Are you kidding me, a MEDIUM???? You should have seen the jumbo sized cups they had. Wow! (note the TX logo on the DQ cup, quality!!)

On a side DQ issue, I love the fact I work less than a mile from DQ HQ. Knowing DQ is from here makes going to DQ on the road feel a little like home, even if the cup has the state of Texas on it.

The other thing about Texas, is that while I have heard that Texas is a great place to go biking out in the country (and the road biking looks phenomenal there, other than the wind), the running sucks. Really sucks. Monday night in San Angelo I wanted to run an hour and get a feel for the town, so I decide to go running. The front desk directs me to these roads that are for "running". Well, running along side roads that are all 50 mph speed limits, no sidewalks, and little lighting is not my idea of a safe run. After 20 minutes of dodging traffic and potholes, I saw a VERY friendly cop who directed me to the ONE residential road that wasn't basically a highway. I did one-mile repeats on that and was happy. That's the other thing about Texas. EVERYONE is friendly. I LOVE TEXANS (well, not those who claim to be from Crawford, but that's another post). From my first trip to College Station in college to now, I have found virtually every Texan to be friendly and overly helpful. We may claim Minnesota Nice, but Texans don't need a slogan, they're just naturally good-natured.

The last fun thing from my trip was the work itself. It was BEAUTIFUL up there on the mesa being 600 feet above the land below. The cacti were blooming, everything looked green, the playas had water in them. It's a great time of year to be in West Texas. Every direction I looked I saw beautiful and inspiring views. It's nice because the wind turbines haven't been built yet, it's all just open land now, nothing obstructing the views. However, I'm not the only one who enjoys West Texas this time of year. So do the rattlesnakes! The drillers killed a big one the first day we were on site. And this is what we saw on Tuesday right after we got into our truck after inspecting a potential wind turbine location:

And right after that, we hiked about 2 hours through the most remote portion of the site. From that time on, I stopped appreciating the views off the mesa and started staring at the ground before I took every step!

So to recap...
Texas sucks because:
  • Running (in cities) is messed up
  • Things are too big
  • They're all Republicans (one quick story, for the hotel's continental breakfast, I was the only one there and so I changed the news to CNN. The hotel worker changed it to FOX and said that they're only allowed to show FOX NEWS. Ridiculous.)
But really, Texas rocks because:
  • It's freaking beautiful in a desolate sort of way
  • The people are fantastic
Overall, I'd put Texas at #2 on my places I love to visit but would never live, right behind NYC.


Kirk said...

I'm not sure what to think anymore. Texas is #2? Seriously? I think that maybe Tibet would be over Texas as places you'd like to visit but not live in. How about Beijing? I can think of a million other places I'd rather visit that Tejas--but not want to live in. How' bout the Outback? Okay, I realize that you were just giving it up for Mike. You are such a kind Minnesotan.

Rocco said...

Texas is a big state Kirk. And its weakest parts are Houston/Beaumont and the metroplex. And like beer or coffee, it is an acquired tasste. But repeated exposures leaves you falling in love with the place.

You don't know until you've been there.