Night Of The Living Entropy

RpodInPark

[Just to give you the right perspective.  We are a small fish in a large sea of RV’s]

[en-tro-py n, pl -pies  1 : the degree of disorder in a system  2 : an ultimate state of inert uniformity]

     —Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary and Thesaurus, 2014 ed.

I recently completed reading Deep South by Paul Theroux.  He is, arguably, the best travel writer working today.  His Great Railway Bizarre set a very high standard for that genre.  In Deep South, he begins by reviewing the styles of other travel writers.  Historically, he says, the wanderer often writes of how hard the journey is and complains a great deal of the difficulties encountered.

“The local food was exotic but I had to close my eyes to take a mouthful.”

“The insects swarmed into my eyes and nostrils and ears in uncountable numbers.”

You get my point.  Theroux was saying that to complain was to miss the point of the journey.  A good book about a great journey is supposed to impart a flavor of the local dialect, food, and geography.  Most importantly, to me, is trying to listen to what a stranger has to say…listen for their story…listen to the local legends of the back roads and byways.

Sorry, but I’m going to turn away from Theroux’s fine advice and complain.  Not about where we have traveled but instead, of how we have traveled.

When people see our r-pod, the words we hear most are: “Oh, how cute is that?!”  I admit that it is indeed cute, but it doesn’t do a thing for trying to fit months of clothes, books and stuff into something that has rounded ends and no room for closets.

While Mariam has been away for a few days in New York City for meetings, I fully intended to work on my novel and have room to spread out and just think.  It didn’t work out that way.

Let’s start with this table I am writing this post from.  This space is either a table (for writing and eating) or its a bed…but it’s not both.  It takes time and effort to make the table into a bed…time I could be out looking at a cow, a horse or listening to a local tell me a tale or two.  So, to save me that effort, I’ve taken the bottom bunk (which is about three steps away from the table/bed, and moved the clothes (remember, no closets) to the table (when I’m not writing or eating), or to the top bunk, which is already piled with…stuff.

RpodTable

[My writing desk and dinner table and bed]

I will admit the lower bunk has a real “mattress” so that my back pain in the morning is not as intense as usual.  But, the back pain has been replaced by the pain on my forehead from knocking it against the bottom of the top bunk.  Laying in bed at night is a particular (and somewhat morbid) challenge.  I propped my head up on a pillow to read.  I looked up and saw the wood panel above me.  I measured the distance from the tip of my nose to the bottom of the top bunk.  I held my fingers apart and measured.  It was just shy of 4″.  I felt like I was the guest of honor at an open casket funeral.  Now I know how Bela Lugosi felt between takes of Dracula, while he waited for the cameras to be moved.  Now I know how Bela Lugosi feels now.

Bunk

[My sleeping arrangements]

BathroomDoor

[There is a bathroom/shower behind these towels]

About fifty feet from where I’m siting, is a large blue mobile home…a bus-like affair.  A woman ties her little black dog to the BBQ pole and goes off to do laundry or drives away to shop.  The dog yelps and barks until she returns.  And, I’m supposed to concentrate on maintaining a narrative line in my novel-in-progress?  I can’t.  I’m easily distracted.  So, I escape to a nearby Starbucks.  We have a ‘card’ so when I buy a Cold Brew or a hot dark roast, I feel like it’s free.  I sat yesterday in an overstuffed leather chair and began to take notes on my characters when a large number of students from the University of Texas at Arlington came in.  At a table near me, three young men were huddled around a laptop.  One of them was telling the other two about his new idea to create a website to help other people find websites.  I realize that this could be the next Zuckerberg, but he didn’t have to tell the entire coffee-house about how many pixels he was planning to use, or what CSS meant.

I came back here.  The dog was inside, but I could still him/her barking…in that plaintive yelp that means: “I’m annoying everyone around here, but I’m so cute!”

I waited for darkness.  There was a beautiful crescent moon in the western sky (I thought I was in the west??).  I decided to do a load of soiled clothes in the nice warm laundry room.  I was hoping to catch the State of the Union speech (our TV has no reception), but a heavy-set woman was watching a martial arts movie.  She had a cough that would frighten a brown bear.  I didn’t want to catch some strange Texas respiratory ailment, so I darted back and forth to the r-pod and the laundry, trying to win a game or two of Scrabble with a high school friend, Jackie B.

Which brings me to our car.  The rear hatchback has been stuck since early December, 2015 while we were in Florida.  Just for fun, I tried pushing the button and much to my surprise, it opened!  I lifted it up and a bag promptly fell out and a bottle of red wine broke on our bumper.  I sprayed WD-40 all over the latch and succeeded in mixing that with the spilled wine.  That’s why I was doing laundry last night.

I didn’t have a banner day on Tuesday.  I wish I was back in Vicksburg, sitting in the back of The Tomato Place and chatting with Mallory, Luke and Angela.  Life was so much simpler a week ago.

But, y’all know where I’ll be on Friday night.  I’ll be in Austin, doing the Texas 2-Step…making strange squeaks with my rubber bottom soles.

My birthday is coming in May.  I want a new and bigger RV…and I want a pair of cowboy boots.  Just like the ones I had when I was five years old.  I wasn’t in Texas, I was in my backyard.  And, my dog, King, didn’t bark…to much.

PinkRoseOfTexas

[“You can’t lose if you close a blog with flowers”. My grandfather once told me.  These are roses,  They’re not yellow, but they’re from Texas]

Don’t Mess With Texas

texascard1

All the tired horses in the sun

How am I going to get any riding done?

–Bob Dylan “All The Tired Horses”

Well this is a fine howdy-do.  There is some good news and some bad news in this here posting.  The good news is that we joined Cosco and promptly spent $139.95 ( + tax ).  The bad news is that I saw Mariam off to the airport to fly back to NYC to attend meetings.  I didn’t hold her hand as she gathered her long skirt and climbed into the stage-coach.  This time, she called Uber.  I’m left here alone, almost deep in the heart of Texas, trying to stay busy and out of trouble.  I plan on working hard on my novel-in-progress, but there are so many distractions here, it’s gonna be hard.

“How am I going to get any riding done?”

Here I am about a hundred miles from the Louisiana state line.

Yes, you read it correctly, I crossed the Louisiana state line and there were no State Troopers after me.  From the things I’ve read, going to Texas is really getting away from somewhere and often not for a really good reason.  Why else are there so many Bail Bondsmen and pawn shops every few hundred yards along all these roads?  I’ve been here two days now, and I have no idea how many people I’ve met who are wanted in six states out west.  And, Texas wants to secede from the Union!  What if they do, and I’m stuck behind enemy lines?

I think I’m in this ‘outlaw’ mode because one of the last touristy things we did was stop in Gibsland, Louisiana and visited the site where Bonnie & Clyde were ambushed.  There are two historical markers there, but one is pock-marked with bullet holes.  It’s located on a lonely stretch of road south of Gibsland.  I stood in the twilight, just steps inside the piney woods.  A bird chirped.  One car passed.  It was spooky and quiet in a way that occurs when you’re standing at the location where people have died a violent death…like a Civil War battlefield or a hanging tree (there’s one in Washington Square Park in NYC).  If would take me months to trace down all the places where Clyde shot down law enforcers, but then, none of those people have familiar names and weren’t made into glamorous characters that looked like Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway.  I won’t argue, however, that B & C weren’t folk heroes in their day.

Bonnie&Clyde

Our next stop was Bossier City which is near Shreveport.  Bossier has casinos…and a lot of other interesting attractions.  I was going to walk over to Diamond Jacks Casino to plug-in a few quarters and walk away with the funds to finish our trip in a brand new RV.  I was going to do that, but I didn’t want to walk into a smokey gambling den.  Not that I haven’t spent plenty of time in such places of sin and inequity, but I felt like I was getting the sneezes and didn’t want to plunge into a full-bodied cold.

I do remember that this is a Texas blog…I digressed.

So, I’m sitting in the Rpod on a cold night in Arlington, Texas.  My weather app tells me that it’s colder here than in New York City.

This gives me time to come up with a solution to a problem that has been giving me a saddle sore.  I’m going to learn how to do the Texas 2-Step while we are visiting friends in Austin.  The problem: the only shoes I have with me have rubber-like soles (like for not slipping on the deck of a sail boat…remember, I’m a sailor too!).  And, one has to shuffle during the 2-Step.  I won’t be able to shuffle…all I’ll do with my Dockers is make an embarrassing squeaking sound that will make me the center of attention on the dance floor of The Broken Wheel dance hall.

If any of my readers have encountered this sort of problem, please help me before Thursday!  Even sooner, because it may mean that I’ll have to go to Wal-Mart or Target and buy a pair of shoes with a leather sole.  And, then I’ll only use it for one or two nights….but, maybe not, gosh dang it!  Maybe, just maybe, I’ll get really good at the 2-Step and dance my way across Texas and into New Mexico and Arizona.  They have culture out there too, they must have places to do the 2-Step.

But, I digress again.

Finally, I must apologize for not including a really brilliant illustration to headline this blog.  All I could come up with are two $.35 ( + tax ) postcards from the KOA office.  I haven’t seen a horse in weeks, I think it was someplace in Alabama that I saw a person riding a horse and dragging something.  I hope it was a log.  If it was a freshly cut tree, the scene would be right out of a Budweiser holiday commercial or a Hallmark TV movie about “coming home for Christmas”.  Should I count the dozen paintings of horses on the walls of the Texas Steakhouse where we had our first dinner here?

But, I did see a windmill the other day.  That should count for something.

And, it was actually in Texas.  But it wasn’t spinning gently in the soft southern breeze.  It stood stone-still like a mute sentry to a strange new kingdom, a different way of life, a new landscape.  It was a monument to a dead and obsolete way of using nature for energy.  I have to drive my red Ford Escape about two miles to get a decent cup of coffee at the closest Starbucks.  I’d like to go into an old “Mom & Pop” diner and order a cup of java that is strong and thick enough to float an iPad Mini.

I’d wink at the waitress behind the counter, who had a certain country girl beauty about her, once.  Her name would be Helen, and she would have had that tired look of a woman who worked at one too many truck stops since she was seventeen.  

I’d say: “The usual, Helen, dear, and hold the sugar.  Just touch the coffee with your finger-tip and it will sweeten it up nicely.”

“Oh, you…shush,” she’d say.

But, there are none of these old places in this country of strip-malls and muffler shops.  I could, if I so desired, get my nails done in a hundred different hues in a thousand different spas along Cooper Street.

That’s not a choice that a cowboy of 1897 had.

I did take the Bonnie & Clyde marker photo.  See the bullet holes?  But, the pic doesn’t count, it was taken in Louisiana and this is a Texas blog.

I hope y’all will understand the difficulties I’m having to deal with.

texascard2

Travels 22: Deep in the Heart of Texas

Anyone can buy a ticket to Greece and view the Parthenon, considered by many to be one of the most beautiful designs made by humans.  But you have to go to Greece.  Or, to look upon the Pyramids, Egypt would be your destination (but who’s going there now with the country in chaos?).  Machu Picchu forces you to trek to Peru where you can see the ruins of the Incan culture that once dominated the Americas.  On your way to your private audience with Francis I, you could pop by and check out the Colosseum.  And, one of my own favorites is found out on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, England.  There you could walk among the giant stones of the mystical Stonehenge.  If you’re a crystal-gazing witch type, you’ve probably been there already.

But all these glorious Wonders of the Ancient World require a passport and a small fortune taken from your Roth IRA (or “borrowed from Vince, a guy from Las Vegas).

Sad to say, but for many reasons, beyond the means of most humble people like me.

But all is not lost.  Right here in America is one of the most exquisite treasures of “High Art” found anywhere on earth.  And, you, yes you, can behold this Wonder at little cost, and I’m not talking of the Hooters just outside Tupelo, Mississippi.  No, this is far more sublime (if that’s possible).

Find your Rand McNally 2013 Road Atlas.  Look on page 98.  Look for a little red square the size of a pin-head just west of Amarillo, Texas.  My friends, I bring to your attention Stanley Marsh’s Cadillac Ranch.

But what about those other Wonders?  Well, these so-called “Treasures” mean that you can’t take chunks of the Parthenon home with you.  You can’t chip at Stonehenge with a rock hammer (like a woman tried to do in the late 1970’s).  They will not allow you to scratch graffiti on the walls of Machu Picchu.  How un-American and un-democratic is that?

And that’s the beauty of Cadillac Ranch.  It’s not only free (it’s in a middle of a field of some kind of Texas crop), but you can bring your own spray can and add your own tags to a series of splendid upended Cadillacs that are half buried in the field.

Half buried?  That sounds like Stonehenge.

I wonder if, whoever installed the upended luxury cars, did so to predict the Summer Solstice?

Whatever.  It’s right here in the good old USA.  Our contribution to the Wonders of the World.

See for yourself:

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