This time work took me to a few small towns by way of San Angelo. The city isn’t very big, but I’m told its growing. I don’t know very much about San Angelo, just that when I was in college, some douche-weasel I met online went to Angelo State University and needed a place to stay for a journalism convention at UT. I agreed to let him sleep on my couch and I showed him around Austin. He reminded me of a caged animal that had been let loose for the first time. He referred to driving around Austin as “big city driving” and was visibly nervous about being around a lot of people he didn’t know. He was a douche-weasel for other, more important reasons that I will not explain here.
Anyway, the landscape up TX-29 and US-87 was more beautiful than I expected it to be. After all, the road to Amarillo is barren (north), and to El Paso is nearly miserable (west), so how could the route to San Angelo (northwest) be pretty? But I won’t question it too much… the rolling hills made the drive pleasant and interesting. There was a surprising amount of greenery, which I’m sure the little animals in the area found pleasing, with the exception of those dead and bloody on the side of the road.
The two-lane roads also had some twists and turns. I was listening to Towa Tei’s Sound Museum just as I’d hit some good curves and had to consciously remind myself that although my car is red and fast, and I have the proper soundtrack, I cannot drive as though I was starring in my own racing videogame. There weren’t any opponents around anyway.
When I got to San Angelo, I shopped some at the little block of stores near my hotel. Cute. Unfortunately, I didn’t know where to go for a good meal, so I settled on Chilis. I was served a giant pile of lettuce with some chicken and mandarin oranges on top of it, and I spent the remainder of my dinner trying to scale this mountain without causing an avalanche. It is absolutely ridiculous, the mass of food these chain restaurants serve when the taste and quality just keeps going down. The watered-down peanut dressing and tiny chunks of miscellaneous vegetables didn’t offset the huge clumps of lettuce, so I ended my meal feeling under-satisfied.
I also didn’t sleep terribly well, as my bed was extremely uncomfortable. At this point, I began to wonder how much of this mess of an evening is due to its actual schlockiness, or if it’s just me being a princess. I certainly wasn’t raised to enjoy the finer things in life. Since reaching adulthood (or pretending to have done so), I’ve been able to eat at nice restaurants and buy a comfortable bed for Gus and me to sleep in. I suppose its all relative. When I started seeing it all as it was and not what I could compare it to, things got better.
The next day, I drove to Sterling City at sunrise while listening to Bjork’s Vespertine. It was appropriately chilly outside, and I’ve always associated that album with winter. (And not just because there’s a song on it called “Frosti”. Really, listen to it.)
I took 158 to Robert Lee, passing a lot of farms and some more hills. I scared away a vulture as it noshed on some rhodent parts, but didn’t feel as bad about it as when I hit a bird on the way to Sterling. Somehow, I’ve mananged to avoid hitting any animal in my entire life with the exception of birds. You’d think they’d be at the greatest advantage being able to fly. Dumb things.
The afternoon was sunny and much warmer. I had lunch at a restaurant called the Cracker Barrel. Not the one you see outside of town on major highways (which people find odd that I like), but some local joint with the same name. In much need of a more filling meal, I got a patty melt and it was delicious. Inventor of the patty melt, I’d like to shake your hand. What a brilliant dish. The restaurant filled up as I ate, mostly with older, local men who all knew each other and made small talk. A few people about my age came in and sat together…
Other people at work who have been sent to small towns like this one have talked of being in a local restaurant and getting The Stare from everyone in it. So far, it hasn’t happened to me and I wonder what I’m doing wrong. I’m being facitious, of course. No one likes to be gawked at. And I’m uncomfortable enough having to wear nice clothes with my shirt tucked in when I go out on these trips. I know that’s hardly a discomfort to mention, I’m just still getting used to it.
Overall, it was a good trip. I was wary of having to drive since I don’t like being in the car by myself, but I managed to stay entertained and awake. One of my poor coworkers, unfortunately, could not do that on her way to McCullough and fell asleep at the wheel. She was awakened by the rumble bars on the opposite side of the highway and thankfully was not hurt. Fortunately, she had no racing opponents and caused no accidents… perhaps I should lend her my Towa Tei cd.