Prentiss Riddle: Travel

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Texas claustrophobia, and a mystery town

There are times when the miles and miles of Texas feel like walls, not spaces. Memorial Day is coming up and I'll have a few days free but I'm too broke to fly anywhere and just a little too short on time for another Mexico bus trip. I'm having trouble thinking of anyplace within striking distance where I really want to go.

A museum prowl in one of the cities holds some appeal, but I'm freshly back from a family outing to the Fort Worth MOMA and feeling throughly beat up by just those few hours on Texas' bleak and harried intercity routes. I could maybe talk myself into a barbecue pilgrimage but what would I do in Lockhart or Llano once I've gorged? I got my fill of pseudohistorical Texas kitsch years ago. I don't fish so my only associations with the coast are salt, sand and sunburn. I do like a shady freshwater swimming hole, but not when I have to share it with holiday weekend crowds. Notwithstanding the most pleasant May in memory, it's mosquito and chigger season and not my idea of hiking weather. The one outdoor experience which is really appealing would be to get some altitude, but the nearest mountains are 400 miles away.

So I'm feeling like a landlocked castaway: landscape, landscape everywhere and not a sight to see.

I do have one odd thought looming in my mind like my own Devil's Tower. Years ago, on a trip back from Taos, I passed through a tiny town hugging the foot of a spectacular ridge sticking up from the surrounding plains. It would have been somewhere on a meandering diagonal route from Lubbock to Austin, probably on US 84. I've been Googling and not finding any central-to-west Texas towns which claim such a feature. Can anybody think of the place I might be remembering? If I can identify it, I suppose it might be as good an arbitrary excuse for an excursion as any.

travel 2007.05.21 link


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