texas in the SmartBeetle

Day 24: The SmartBeetle swings southeast through Texas

March 29, 2000

roswellWell, waking up in the morning in Roswell was just like waking up in the morning anywhere else in middle-america. Packed everything in the SmartBeetle and fired up the electronics. They really make the aliens feel welcome here.

There was a strange man in coveralls on the street who looked like he wasn't supposed to be there.

black ops

While driving south on 285, I noticed a white early 70's pickup behind me. i took a right, then two more and he disappeared.

followed by the men in black strange white van in roswell

ufo in roswellI checked the laptop and found myself headed toward the airfield, when i saw an odd looking shape over the SmartBeetle's starboard side.

I whipped the car over and got out some serious video of some freak contraption out in Roswell airspace in broad daylight!

Dumb luck or does this happen every day and people are so numb they don't even look up in the sky.

Whipped the car around and headed outta dodge - only to see the big white trucks on their way into town. I can't be sure, but i think they had FEMA painted on the doors.

fema truck 1 fema truck 2

 Just then, a cop car comes flying up behind me....the goosebumps were here and gone in a minute as he pulled over the truck in front of me. Man, that was close

I made a quick phone call to Boston and then i was southbound to Texas

OK - the above might be a figment of my imagination and couldn't at all be true.....but then again, they might have made me say that.

cop in roswell?I was so thrilled to be out of Roswell, that i missed a Y in the road and ended up having to cut across into Texas using a little driven ranch road.

Texas is big. Big roads, big vast stretches of nothing. Big cows in the fields. Big Oil Wells. and big heat - 84 F and -40% humidity (so dry, moisture is being sucked from my body without me even sweating)

smartbeetle reaches texas border

texas big wide roads

dust devil crosses the path of the smartbeetleGod, even the dust devils (what Michiganders call small swirling dirt clouds) were half the size of tornados. The last one i caught on video was at least as wide as the road, and about 200 feet high. If i would have been 2 minutes earlier, the 3 mountains might have been in for quite a beating.

protected left on green arrow2:54P - Pecos, TX - home of the world's 1st rodeo ever. the street signs make you envision a comic book battle between the Green Arrow and Muhommad Ali. Ali blocking with his right and jabbing with the South Paw....kickin' some Oliver Queen butt.


Flash of Grandpa Butcher's motor home 10 years ago and his big bumper sticker that said "DONT MESS WITH TEXAS". I keep seeing signs every few miles that seem nice and quaint.





These continuous soft reminders drum up a new road game for the kids. I now have a Texas equivalent to the Chinese fortune cookie game where you add that interesting phrase onto the end of each fortune. Only the Texas version would require you to add "Or We'll Shoot You" to the end of each of their signs....just to make sure out-of-stater's listen up.


texas butcher in the smartbeetle3:10P - Rolling south, passing pickup after beat-up pickup, i thank the stars that i am in full Texas Camouflage or i might get my ass kicked by some red-necks...

Although, with blonde hair and the brim pushed up, i look more Aussie than Texan.


3:50P - Hungry and craving some fresh vegetables - Give me Cracker Barrel or give me death.

5:42P - About an hour away from sunset. i have no idea if i jumped time zones or not - could use a phone book. Crossing Texas gives one instant perspective on the size of our country. Huge. The SmartBeetle keeps chewing up miles. Texas, she keeps throwing more at me.

West Texas Country 92.1 enlightens me - Country Western songs really paint you a picture about what's going on...."two guys sitting at the bar, drinking beer...". There's no room for error or misinterpretation here as in an REM or  song.


6:44P - DECISION TIME...San Antonio lies one hour ahead and Houston is only four. Creed's Higher comes on the FM...."So let's go there..." and what the hell, i was in San Antonio 11 years ago - been there....I drop the Hammer on the SmartBeetle and push on. Remember the Alamo!

7:20P - NSync just came on after Creed (yes, i switched it), but i am seriously miffed that i missed the TV Special "Making of the Band"!!!


Billboard outside of San Antonio:




9:42P - Stopped for fuel and i see the first real bugs of the journey. and there are hundreds all around me. and they are big - yep - Texas big.

texas state police10:11P - I knew it was too good to last. Statey pulled me over. For 3 issues:

1. Changing Lanes without a blinker (he was flying up on me and i got the hell over, then he kicked the gumballs on!)

2. Broken Port-side headlight

police in texas pull over the smartbeetle3. Speed of 85mph in a 65mph zone.

He asked me to step out of the car and pointed at the sign with the clipboard laughing - "what's this?". I explained my trip, the car and all, he looked interested and proceeded to give me a warning for issues #1 & #2, then ticketed me for #3. Busted!

I knew it was too good to be true. Shoulda knocked on wood. I have to call the judge tomorrow and find out how much this is going to hurt.

1:15A - all checked into the NASA Motel6 in Houston. The fog was, as usual, thick as pea soup - fitting for Texas.

My persistence means some free time tomorrow to check out the Johnson Space Center and mosey my way across to New Orleans.

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Music today

  • Swingers Soundtrack
  • New Radicals
  • REM: Green
  • Sinead: I Do Not Want
  • REM: Murmur
  • Sugar

Ballast Update

  • Texas cost me 6 quarts of water.
  • And another 2 boxes of Tic Tac's.
  • Cop read the postcards, but declined to take one, saying "i don't even have Internet at home". fine.