Chapter 72
Weird Fog
The Tales of Texas

1a - The Mysterious Ski Rack
1b - Wheres the Other Half of That Moose
1c - The Waiter Who Didnt Yall
1d - Scorpions, Scorpio
2a - Diet Soda
2b - Riding into the Sunrise
3 - Modest Magazines
4 - Down to Houston
5a - What Does That Sign Say
5b - Just Follow Your Nose
5c - They Call It the Sunbelt
5d - The State Tree
6 - The New House
7a - Billboards
7b - Billboards Again
8 - Stereo Upgrade
9 - Wineries
10 - Unintentionally Left Blank
11 - CBW in TX
12 - Ice House Radio
13 - Goats and Cotton
14 - Dig We Must
15 - Dan Moody
16 - Dry Heat
17 - Dead Animals
18a - Bookstore Culture
18b - On the Open Road
19 - Weather
20 - Sightings in Bertram and Buchanan
21 - Too Many Birds
22 - Road Hazards
23 - Sightings to and from Houston
24 - The Great Wall of Train
25 - In the Heat of the Day
26 - Bite Me
27 - Bid on This Skeleton
28 - Willie
29 - Rural Countryside
30 - SUV SUX!
31 - Kinky on the Texas Monthly Hour
32 - Strange Yellow Sky
33 - Football is a Serious Enterprise in Texas
34 - Remember the Alamoo!
35 - What's That on the Radio
36 - Trip to Houston through the small towns
37 - Shoe Story, an Austin Anecdote
38 - Unintended Fireworks
39 - Flash Flood Warning
40 - Sin City
41 - Live music in Austin, but in theaters not in clubs
42 - Fear of Overpass
43 - The Big Sneezy
44 - New Texas
45 - Front Ended by the French Fry Mobile
46 - Dirt Farm
47a - Heard at the Texas Book Festival 2008
48a - Texas Book Festival 2009
49 - Central Time Sucks
50 - Temple Texas
51 - Christmas in Austin
52 - Pennants in the Wind
53 - The Road Less Traveled
54 - Texas-size Thunderstorm
55 - Cool Van
56 - Your New House Is That-A-Way
57 - C.S.I. Austin
58 - New MTV Game Show
59 - Equine Technology
60 - Look at That Prairie
61 - Get Your Water Here
62 - Corporate Anniversaries
63 - College Sprawl
64 - Hire These Guys
65 - Preparing for Winter
66 - Careful What You Overhear
67 - Bonnie Raitt
68 - Perfume
69 - Questionable Skills
70 - All-American Day
71 - Read Me
72 - Weird Fog
73 - Overpackaged Food
74 - What Town Was That
75 - Texas Book Festival 2010
76 - Bulletproof Roof
77 - The Oldest Photo
78 - Cheesesteaks Part 1
79 - Cheesesteaks Part 2

Valley of Milk

Summer 2005

The weirdest weather phenomenon I have ever seen. Driving around the countryside, late afternoon, a hot and extremely humid day. I'm running the air conditioning inside the car all day. I have to run the wipers most of the time because so much condensation forms on the outside of the windshield. But that's normal. The odd bit was how the fog kept forming in every little valley.

This part of the landscape is fairly flat, not more than forty-fifty feet of relief from hill to dale. But this day, in this place, every little valley, the bottom twenty feet or so, is filled with fog, dense, white, almost impenetrable fog. The bright sunlight makes the fog seem denser, harder to see through. Midday, this white milk fills the bottom of every bowl. Someone has poured milk all over the landscape and it has settled evenly into all the little depressions, every dimple a white puddle.

The slopes up and down the hills are gradual, so that, driving, one is in and out of this soup for miles at a time. This slows the drive considerably, because I can't drive more than twenty or so through the fog.

Most of this driving is on real back country roads. At one point I see a traffic light in the distance, over a mile away. But then the road dips into the soup and I can't see it again until I am right on top of it as the road rises out of the little dip we were in. Then, closer to Austin, it is drier, and there is no more fog.

Maybe the is the second weirdest fog I have ever seen. The fog in Pacifica, California, surely takes the cake. Bright sunny day in San Francisco and Silicon Valley, in the mid to late 80s. I decide to drive out to Pacifica to look at the shore there. From the hilltop, I can see that the ocean is fogged in. Well, that's okay, fog is pretty in that area.

But this fog has a sharp edge like I have never seen. This could be the set of some horror movie. The southbound side of the road, on the beach side, is in the fog. The other side of the road is in the sunlight. The inland side is clear. And right over the double yellow line, there is the swirling edge of the fog as I drive through it.

This is crazy. How is it possible for a fluid to have such a defined edge? No, it's not like a straight line or a wall. There is a mixing at the edge. The fog lies on the road, it's a little heavier than the clear air, and moves out of the way as I drive through it. But out the sea-side window, there is just white. No rocky coastline, no Pacific Ocean, no beach. White. Out the driver's window, the town. Out the passenger window, nothing. Where's the Twilight Zone music?

At the end of town, there is a dip down to beach level before the road rises again into the cliff. I stop and go down to the beach edge. I'm completely in the fog now, cannot see where I parked the car. I can hear the surf, but I can't see it. I toss a rock out to where the water should be, and it splashes reassuringly.

After contemplating that for a while, I drive back and forth up and down this road a half dozen times, to make sure that I'm really seeing this. Where is a camera when you need one?