Heart of Texas: ‘Murrica and Fancy Ketchup

Want to read from Chapter one? Do it, it’d be fun.

Day 6-8

The last few days have been a blur. Everything blended together so much, I couldn’t possibly separate them into individual entries. That and absolutely nothing of interest has happened to distinguish discrete units of time. We arrived in College Station after a scenic drive through the country side (cow, cow, cow…), proceeding directly to our hotel. After listening to christian educational radio for the past 2 hours, we were happy to enjoy, well basically anything else. I think my brother stared at a wall for a few hours, just enjoying the silence. We stayed at the local Courtyard by Marriott, which despite being one of the worst furnished hotels I have ever stayed in, did have free coffee in the lobby.

In the morning I decided to wash off the pounds of prairie dust that I had accumulated overnight. After stepping into the shower, I realized I had made a horrible, horrible mistake. Apparently, despite the fact that the state of Texas collectively decided to remain firmly rooted in the 19th century, they are apparently at the forefront in shower head research. I was exfoliated with extreme prejudice. I must have lost like 5 lbs. of skin. Seriously, that thing could have peeled the hide off a jack rabbit wearing overalls at 50 paces. I need to get out of here.

Also, when people say that they could eat beef for breakfast, lunch and dinner, they mean it. I witnessed it. Today was the 4th of July and my family must have consumed at least two whole cows today, and that was before the chicken drum sticks on the barbecue. ‘Murrica.

We also got to see Joseph Anthony, my new cousin, and my aunt and uncle. Upon closer inspection, he was in fact not a beef product, but a cute baby boy. I was surprised but slightly relieved. My aunt was born in Miami like the rest of the family, as was my uncle, but you couldn’t tell by looking at them or their home. They owned 3 dogs (2 Daschunds and a Siberian Husky), multiple guns, a 4 burner gas grill, and a {cringe} above ground pool. Over the next few days, we enjoyed a barbecue every night followed by a Jaws movie marathon (don’t ask, I can’t explain). While my parents took care of the baby, my brother and I would help my uncle walk the dogs, enjoying increasingly more interesting lectures explaining why Democrats are subhuman and Republicans have gone too soft.

“I think I agree more with the Tea Party. Those guys have the right idea.”

Time moves in a strange way here. Three days passed painfully slowly, and yet we found ourselves packing up to leave faster than we could realize. We couldn’t properly remember what happened over the last few days, and only in part because nothing actually happened over the last few days. We said our goodbyes and headed back the way we came. Next stop, Destin. I know, I haven’t heard of it either.

Day 9

Today was the longest drive of the trip thus far. 11 hours from East Texas to North Florida. My flesh started to grow around the seatbelt.

The plan was to arrive in Destin, Florida before nightfall. I realized rather early that this was an ambitious goal. My dad was cutting corners wherever he could to save time. Sufficed to say, some of us had to pee in cups.

Traveling back eastward, we were treated to a surprising blend of music. The local “country classics” station drove us into a spiraling depression from which we never really recovered. However we were graced with a beautiful stint of 8-bit Mexican music. For those of you who are having trouble visualizing this, picture a mariachi band played through an old NES and you basically have the idea.

Once out of range of the retro rancheros, we found ourselves bored and hungry. After seeing a plethora of regional fast food joints over the course of this trip, all foreign to us,  we decided that we needed to try some. We finally convinced dad to stop for lunch after a good deal of cohesion. Our choice: Whataburger, a local chain closer to a diner than a drive through. The burgers were fine, the fries were decent, but their “fancy ketchup”…oh my. By the end of the meal, everything we ordered ended up being a vehicle for ketchup consumption. I almost resorted to eating that stuff with a spoon when we ran out of fries. Two thumbs up, except for the strawberry milkshake that tasted like red and practically glowed in the dark.

Sated and tired, we drudged our way into Florida and finally made it to Destin. The city was basically built around the beach resorts towering above the otherwise stark skyline. The median age was closer to that of a retirement home than a functioning civilization.  The bellboy of our hotel broke 50 without a sweat. The small ramp leading up to the lobby, on the other hand, proved a more difficult challenge for him. We checked in, got to our room and fell into a deep sleep as the cholesterol slowly choked out our life breath. We would be hitting the beaches tomorrow.

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