One of the things I really enjoy about going to different places (and having a car) is being able to drive through the countryside and see something of the state I'm traveling through. I left Houston today to drive to Austin, some 160 miles away. I knew I would get to see some of rural Texas and I was excited about it.
Actually, it looks a lot like California, except its green (our hills and fields would be golden brown and crispy at this time of year). And there is not a mountain to be had. Lots of flat pasture. But much use is made of it with grazing cattle, and many of those grazing cattle do their grazing peacefully alongside an oil well or two.
I seemed to have crossed the Colorado River several times as well. I think the river snaked, not the road. Smooth sailing, really, and I spotted the perfect place for lunch in Columbus. It wasn't a chain--one of my rules when I travel, no chains if I can avoid them--and it was bar-be-que.
I pulled in and I knew as soon as I walked into the door and saw that every square inch of wall space was taken up by an animal head, that this was perfect! I mean, this was a sort of roundhouse kind of place and all around you are glass eyes staring back. I loved it!
They had a cheap all you can eat buffet so I went for it. All kinds of smoked bar-be-cued meat; I had beef, poek, ham, chicken, turkey, sausage, a sort of spicy potato salad, and what I thought was cornbread with cheese but turned out to be a peach cobbler/upside down cake sort of thing. It was quite a meal.
I hit the road again and encountered many miles of burnt forest. This could have been recent, just this summer, perhaps? Miles and miles of it. Quite sad.
Not too long after that I had to stop for the giant squirrel statue (you know how I feel about giant things!) and I wandered in to look at the touristy stuff and buy a bag of pecans.
And then I could see the skyscrapers of Austin in the distance, yet the landscape around me was still rural. Alas, I was here too late to really go see anything. But on my way to the bookstore, I did get to drive down their historic 6th Street with all the old buildings turned to chi chi shops and bars.
BookPeople, the store, was a surprise to me. It's a HUGE place! Not unlike my book launch site at Vroman's in Pasadena. Three stories tall, each floor is stuffed with books of all kinds and gifts. An absolute must for those visiting Austin.
Scott Montgomery, the fellow in charge of "Mystery People," their store within a store, greeted me and led me to the room they had set up for me. Fun! With shields on the walls and "candles" for the tables. We had a mini party with a cake and all.
A very nice group was generous to me and listened to my spiel, laughing at all the right spots (without prior coaching!). We sold, we signed, and then Scott took me to a local hangout for some excellent tamales. It was a great trip to Texas. Can't stay longer as I am heading out early tomorrow. Must get back before Halloween night before I turn into a pumpkin. But next weekend, look for me in North Carolina in the Raleigh, Cary, and Charlotte areas.