Texas has somewhat of a bad reputation in the rest of the country. For example, I told some of the folks I know that I'd be driving pretty much straight through the state. The responses varied from (effectively), "Probably wise. Be careful!" from several friends — to an emphatic, "Good," from my mom, who actually lived in Texas for about a decade!

However, this morning (the 29th) I'm pausing just outside of San Antonio for breakfast, and I'm quietly fascinated: this is a side of Texas I've never seen before. It's very green, growing, and alive, and near the Louisiana border there are gator farms and bayous and open water. Progressing across the southern part of the state through Houston and San Antonio, so far people have been unfailingly courteous. In fact, the manager of this Wendy's that I'm eating at apologized for their running out of chocolate milk, and instead gave me a regular milk with a small ramekin of the chocolate sauce used in their shakes! I stopped at the Wendy's because I was tired of McD's food and the lack of plugs in many of the McD's in Florida and Alabama. What's the point of having free wi-fi if you can't plug in as well? Still, everyone's been very polite. I've even had McD's managers help me plug in my extension cord in out-of-the-way plugs so I can have electricity, which is very kind of them.

I don't doubt a lot of that courtesy has to do with who I am, of course. Just now, sitting in the Wendy's, one of the employees was chatting with me about Dark Star, and an elderly white woman snapped at him about wiping off a table instead of talking. He's Hispanic. It's things like that which remind me how privileged I am.

So far I've seen five other Escape Camper vans, which is cool! Every time I pass one with someone(s) in it, I honk and we wave and grin at each other. There's a certain… smug pleasure in sharing such a great way to travel! I've seen one van leaving Yosemite, one leaving Arizona, one passing me in the Grand Canyon National Park, one pulling out onto the highway behind me in Texas — we drove along for a while together until I lost them in the San Antonio highway maze — and one parked in N'Awlins. I walked up to the one in New Orleans, peeking curiously inside, and saw they had a little wind-chime hung up inside. That inspired me to pull out mine and hang it between and behind the front seats in Dark Star — the little wind-chime/candle holder had been originally intended for camping, but I find I'm usually too tired by the time I park to make a pretty camp. The chimes make a very pleasant, mild tinkling as I drive. Despite the many and varied paint jobs, I am quite sure my Dark Star is, of course, quite the handsomest of all the Escape Campervans I've seen so far — especially now he's so elegantly adorned! :)

I've also seen a tremendous number of the states on the various license plates I've seen on this trip. It was the really unusual ones that made me start looking, of course. First I saw one from Alaska on a car drawing a little van, which made me amusedly realize that all the Alaska license plates I've ever seen are either on vehicles that look burly enough to carry a ton of stuff as well as climb a mountain on their own, or are on cars with trailers attached — clearly the Alaskans must be a very prepared people! Then I saw a Hawai'i license plate a few days later. After the requisite mental smirk: "Heck of a drive!" I started wondering how many states I've seen plates for.

I don't think I've seen plates for all 50 states, but it might be close. Aside from the obvious ones (the states I've driven through) of California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida, I've also seen Alaska and Hawai'i (as already mentioned), and (that I can now recall) Washington, Oregon, Indiana, Illinois, Colorado, Kansas, North & South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North and South Carolina, Oklahoma, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Maine. Cool! I think, as far as I've seen so far, that in the southern US the true nomads all move to California and (to a lesser degree) Florida — because those are the license plates I see the most outside their home state.

Later edit: Also saw, before the end of my vacation, license plates for Minnesota, Delaware, Michigan, Wisconsin, and New York! So a grand total of plates from 42 of the 50 states spotted during my fun nomadic month — oh, and I also saw license plates for Canada (Quebec, Ontario, and three for British Columbia) and Mexico (two for Guadalupe, one for Sonora, and a handful from Chihuahua).

I ended up spotting a total of seven Escape campervans too. Aside from the previously mentioned five, I saw one about an hour out of LA on my way home, and one in SF while turning in Dark Star. Had to laugh when I saw — right after turning in Dark Star to the San Francisco depot, when I didn't consider it to "count" any more — license plates for Vermont and West Virginia as well. ;)

Texans travel too, but not as extensively, I think. :) Texas highways are excellently marked and maintained, fortunately, though they can't seem to make up their minds as to what the speed limit should be. I've seen it vary from 60 to 55 to 75 within a handful of miles. I've also noticed Houston is an easy city to drive through, but navigating the San Antonio highways and overpasses was like untangling a skein of yarn! Thank goodness all the signage was excellently clear.

OK, off to hit the road again. I hope to get in an almost 9 hour drive today, and end up in Las Cruces, New Mexico tonight. Luck to me! :)

Later the same night: in Mississippi I passed a blood-red semi front (as in the 18-wheeler part wasn't attached) with a strange message painted on the back, where you wouldn't ordinarily see it if a trailer was hooked on. In lighter red paint it said "It's the Blood" — and nothing else. No banjo music as I drove by, but still weird. On the other hand, also in Mississippi I found the best name ever! It was so wild that I pulled off at the next McDonald's to look it up on line to be sure I'd seen right — and there truly is a… (pause to make sure I'm spelling it right) Tchoutacabouffa River! I love cool names. :)

Speaking of which, Texas has some great town names. I passed both Boracho (Spanish for "drunk") and New Braunfels (prominently displayed town slogan: "Wilkommen, y'all!") several hours ago, and I just passed Socorro — which means "help" in the sense of, "AHHHHH, HELP MEEEEEEE!!" :) It was shortly after the town of Welfare, followed by Comfort — both of which are just west of San Antonio — that I noticed the biome was changing.

Whoops, my lunch hour is up. Got to get back on the road — want to sleep over at Arcosanti tonight! :)

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