Since I was not allowed to busk in San Antonio, I decided to leave shortly after I heard that. I left in the afternoon around 3pm. I figured I would drive 3 hours west on I-10, to a town called Sonora. Along the way, the views were really beautiful. Mountains and plateaus way off in the distance made for a nice drive. They saying “everything is bigger in Texas” apparently goes for roadkill too. I will not tell you what I saw, but there were some big animals along the road that weren’t raccoons or squirrels. I pulled into the “downtown” that my gps directed me to and found a gas station that was also a food mart and had a sub shop in it. I inquired about the downtown area, and there isn’t one. I got back on the interstate and found my way to Ft. Stockton. It was another 2+ hours, so by the the time I got there it was getting late. I had the sub I bought in Sonora and called it a night. The next day was cold and overcast. It didn’t really matter, there wasn’t much in Ft. Stockton either. After doing some work, I decided to hit the road and try to make it almost 2 hours down the I-10. Big mistake, I should have stayed put.
It hadn’t rained yet up to this point. I got on the highway, and it began. It was very light at first. It didn’t matter, I have no heat in the van so it pretty much froze on there rather quickly. It wasn’t too bad, for almost the first hour. After that, it became a nightmare. Every 5 or so miles, I had to pull over and scrape the ice off of windshield with a travel mug and towel. I admit, I was ill prepared for an ice storm in SW TEXAS!! I didn’t want to be driving after night fall, and that was coming quick. I was still a ways away from anywhere. I will also admit, I got a little scared. After it got dark I was concerned with black ice. Though the speed limit is 80 on that road I was going 45, 50 tops. It only got worse. Right before night fall, there was a dense fog. I could not believe this drive! It was so dense, I couldn’t see the trucker’s brake lights 2 seconds after they passed me, it was like they disappeared. I even missed the exit I wanted. As it happens, there was nothing at that exit either. I had 26 miles to go to the next exit. Finally, I saw some lights a ahead, as the fog was clearing a little. I told myself, no matter what, I am stopping here. I did, it ended up taking me over 3 hours to go just under 2. I didn’t care at this point, I just wanted to get inside. It was a gas station, truck stop. And oh, the characters that came in there in the course of the night.
After a few hours, I discovered a sitting area, and I saw a couple of dudes sitting in there. I grab my book and I was going to write and possibly catch up on my journal. I got as far as the date. I got talking to these two gentlemen. Ken, a trucker out of Louisiana and Willie, a man living off the grid about 5 miles from there. Willie was telling me of his solar panels and that got me asking questions. Ken got involved in the conversation and shortly he was telling his life story. Willie and I didn’t get to say much over the next couple of hours, but Ken had a lot of stories and he was good at telling them, I enjoyed listening to him talk. It turns out, he and Willie have both lived in Houston, so they were able to relate on a few things. It was about 2am and I went out to start the van for about 10 minutes and the conversation ended. Ken had to get some sleep and WIllie was going home. Before he left, Willie invited me to stop by his place and he’d make me a green tea. We exchanged numbers and he sent me a text with directions. My van was encased in ice, so I put off going in for as long as possible. About an hour went by and I had to go to bed, it was after 3am. I hunkered down and bundled up and got under every blanket I have. I was warm enough, thankfully! That day was an adventure in itself.
When I woke up, it was still overcast and really cold. Despite that, I was curious about Willie’s place, plus a green tea sounded good. I called him after I got off the exit and he directed me to his house. True to his word he made me some gunpowder green tea. He has a tiny little cabin out there and his brother help him to build a shop, so he can eventually build himself a bigger cabin to live in. He is in constant search of alternative energies and has even made a couple of his own designs to harness some of these. He is constantly working on these things. I spent almost an hour there and then I got back on the road. We wished each other well and I thank him for the tea.
I got back on the highway and there were a few drops of rain and I thought- I can’t do this again. Fortunately, that is all it was.About 20 minutes later, the sun came out and it warmed up. I went the rest of the way to El Paso from there and it turned into a beautiful drive through the desert. Everyone who drives through Texas, talks about how big it is and how long it takes to get through it. You know, I find once you accept how vast and big Texas is- sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. It is really beautiful!