As most are aware, Lee and I made a hot dash to Houston basically for a 4th of July party. Kinda crazy, but sometimes life calls for a little crazy.
I packed up the work laptops and made phone calls through the new truck's bluetooth system. It's nice to keep both hands on the wheel for a change, especially at 80 mph.
That's how fast you have to go in Texas to be with the traffic flow, the speed limit is 75 there in most places.
That's fine. I can go that fast, Lee's got the "Oh-crap" handle so she's fine. But here's the deal - these people cannot drive. Give 'em six lanes and it's a game of Frogger. They all just grab a lane and go a speed. They do not care if the person next to or just in front of them is going the same speed or not.
Isn't the system, the faster you go, the further left you move in the traffic lanes? I'm glad I was up in the truck because I would've sweat with claustrophobia being trapped behind those people.
If you're gonna drive like that - deep in the heart of Texas - just go ahead and secede from the Union. We have family down there and they are wonderful people. But I'll get a passport to come see you. I'm gonna fly, and we're gonna hang out by the pool, because ya'll don't get it on the roadway.
We go into a roadside restaurant in Madisonville... right? Cuz it's like Fort Madison, and I kid you not there are old signs on the wall about the Madisonville Rodeo. Lee's eyebrows lift and she looks at me and said, "Hey, they had a rodeo here!". And I said... "Madisonville, that's weird".
I asked our waitress, who checked us out, if they still had the rodeo. She said, "What?" I said, "on the wall... you have old picture ads of the rodeo." She said, "Uhh, yeah, no... Umm I just work here?"
We sat by the kitchen swing doors that were wide open and there was the owner, or somebody, doing dishes out of a bus tub right there where the food is being made. I began to worry just a bit about my grilled chicken breast with mushrooms and provolone and veggies. Lee had a chicken fried steak or something. They brought the gravy out about 15 minutes after the schnitzel. I began to wonder about our choice of local cuisine.
But we started talking about Joe Biden and some political thing and my voice can carry a bit. Lee does the thing with the eyebrows again and I'm like..."what?" And she's like.. "look around", and I'm like "...what?", and she's like "Do you see the tv behind me?"
We're in Fox News territory, yep deep in the heart of ....conservatism. I flashed back to parking in the lot and remember parking next to a diesel with a blue Trump MAGA flag flying high and a couple of boys with their feet in what I can only hope was a Justin boot, on the bumper with arms draped over the bed. I swear I saw a piece of straw hanging out of this dude's mouth. They weren't paying attention to us, but... they were... if ya know what I mean.
I tamped down my liberal rhetoric and rant so we could get outta there with our schnitzels intact. When we came out an hour later they were still there. I had left Skol in charge of the truck and he sat on the arm console between the seats. He was in flannel...it's fine.
We got back in for our two more hours to Houston and more of the same, three-lane, you're-not-the-boss-a-me, I'll-drive-where-and-how-I-want, garbage. I mean if you're not going to extend common road courtesy to Midwesterners and their teddy bears, don't be haters. Just be your own country. And get outta the damn way!
In all fairness and transparency, Missouri isn't any better. Those forget-me-not two laners will line up behind a semi and stay there six, seven cars deep until some impatient motorist takes off from the back of the line, on a hill, and passes.... everyone. That wasn't me.
The rule is one and done. One goes around, and gets around, and the rest move up so the next can go around and so forth and so on until we're all free of hillbilly gridlock and moving again through the soft limestone hills of central Missouri. We did this basically all the way to Lake of the Ozarks where we stopped for a bite and to shake off the insanity.
A lot of you go down there and hit Bagnell Dam for food. I would recommend Brick House, the jambalaya is pretty darned good, but the bread pudding's killer. Nice place, but that kids' tethered death trap thingy next door is wicked.
So Missouri, you can stay in the union because I can find another way around, and there's the bread pudding thing. But Texas... man get it together. I like the family and the food on waterfront there, but you gotta move over, man.
Speaking of Texas, Madisonville and rodeos brings to mind the new addition going on at the Tri-State Rodeo Arena. That seems to be quite the undertaking. Tony Baxter and Seither & Cherry are building a new VIP section on the northwest side where the announcer's booth used to be. Tony Johnson and the rodeo committee are either on to something, or up to something, Either way, that's cool... and Beside the Point.
Chuck Vandenberg is editor/co-owner of Pen City Current and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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