Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Texas Road Trip, Day 3: Enough of fracking

Woke up this morning in San Antonio. Weather was utterly dreary: thick fog and drizzle, just a complete mess. I found my way to a cafe with wi-fi and camped out for about an hour and a half, until morning rush hour was over and I had a plan for the day.

I had a choice of going west to Carrizo Springs to see more drilling, trucks, pipelines, RVs camped in a pasture, etc. etc. -- but aside from a slight change in the landscape (it would have been drier and more desert-y), I didn't expect to see much that I hadn't seen during the first two days. I realized there was only one thing I really wanted to see in the state of Texas: the Rothko Chapel in Houston which, despite having lived in Texas for ten years, I had never seen. So I drove to Houston.

As I drove west, the murk cleared up and the day became hot and cloudy/sunny -- pretty much a typical summer day. That it is mid-October doesn't matter a bit. The clouds were light and fluffy and the air was hot and humid. OK, it was only 90 degrees, not 103 like it was during the summer.

In Columbus, I stopped and drove around a little, because that was a spot I drove through on the way from Houston to Austin back in the 70s. I found a couple of miles of the old highway that runs through and out of the town before it meets the new freeway that has erased the rest of the old road.

Houston is pretty amazing. Imagine Las Vegas in the way it over-does everything possible. Now multiply its size by about 10. That's Houston, with 12-lane freeways decorated with gigantic stars, and futuristic skyscrapers not just downtown but in concentrations of office buildings at various places along the roads leading into town. I was listening to a sports radio station and heard consecutive commercials as follows: 1) An anti-Obama commercial sponsored by the gun lobby, saying if Obama was re-elected he would take away not only "our" Second Amendment rights, but also threaten the First Amendment; 2) A commercial by the natural gas lobby saying how wonderful it was; and 3) A commercial by a local gun dealer that was so over-the-top it sounded like it was produced by the Firesign Theater. That was on a sports station, which was the only one I could listen to without encountering Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity or some other right-wing beanbag.

I won't even mention how heavy the traffic was, despite all the multi-lane freeways. In fact, they aren't happy with the existing Interstate Highway System; they are busy opening parallel freeways that are toll roads. There's one that bypasses Austin, another that partially circles Houston.

After all that, the Rothko Chapel was quite a relief.

Rothko Chapel

Then I found a cheap motel and settled in to watch baseball. We're in a rain delay.

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