Chapter 02b
Riding off into the sunset?
01a - Introduction
01b - The Mysterious Ski Rack
01c - Wheres the Other Half of That Moose
01d - Scorpions Scorpio
01e - The Waiter Who Didnt Yall
02a - Can I Get a Diet Soda
02b - Riding Into the Sunrise
03 - Modesty at Any Price
04 - Driving Down to Houston
05a - What Does That Sign Say
05b - The State Tree
05c - They Call It the Sunbelt
05d - Just Follow Your Nose
06 - The New House
07a - Billboards
07b - Billboards Again
08 - Stereo Upgrade
09 - Local 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 We Have Known
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 Al Fresco
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 Was That on the Radio
36 - Trip to Houston Through Small Towns
37 - Shoe Story
38 - Unintended Fireworks
39 - Flash Flood Warning
40 - Sin City
41 - Live Music in Austin But 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
47 - Heard at the Texas Book Festival 2008
48 - Heard at the 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 - CSI 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
80 - Sure We Got Culture
81 - A Message to Gyno-Americans
82 - The cathedral of Junk

Ha. Don't try it.

So in all the old Western movies, the hero rides off into the sunset at the end, to the plaintive pluckings of Home on the Range. Well, if Hopalong tries that around here, he'll be run over by a truck.

The other morning, I was driving off to work, going to a slightly different building for a change, and a little later than usual. I had driven this road a few days before, about 7 AM, and the sun was just thinking about rising directly over the center line. On this morning, however, it was after 8, and the sun was fully up. And it was a lovely, clear day, as most are. And the yellow ball was positively blinding. And traffic failed to adjust itself correctly to the conditions.

I came over a rise and the blinding sun was right in the eyes. On the shoulder, two police cars were pulled over with two or three civilian cars, probably writing up a previous small accident. And then . . . and then the traffic in front of me stopped. Just that fraction of a second of distraction was all it took. The pickup in front of me stopped short. I stopped hard. The small car behind me stopped hard. (Everyone's anti-lock brakes got some exercise.) And, oops, the big pickup behind him didn't stop at all. Bam, bam, bam! Chain reaction, four vehicles. I was number 3. Well, my Hertzmobile was number 3. And my neck, unfortunately. Slight whiplash for the next four days.

The cops didn't seem the least bit surprised. In retrospect, I shouldn't be, either. Question: Where is the most likely place for an accident to occur? Answer: Where one has occurred before. Next question: So, I have to ask, why wasn't I extra super special careful as soon as I saw that accident? Answer: Because it all happened in about two seconds, and this line of reasoning takes just a little longer.

But now it is firmly embedded in the brain. I will avoid those roads in the future, when possible; and, when not possible, I will driver very, very cautiously. This was always true of the roads I knew to be dangerous in NH, or NJ, or other places I'd lived. Some roads just go directly into the sunrise or sunset at some seasons. Others are subject to black ice. It takes a while to learn where the bad spots are, but this one should have been really obvious. Du-uh.

The big pickup that hit us all had dual rear wheels. Several people said, "Oh, a duallie." Pronounced DYEW-lee. The standard local term, I guess.

The cop who wrote it up looked at my New Hampshire drivers license and said, with irony and a shrug, "Welcome to Texas."