After arriving home yesterday morning at 7:00 am from a road trip to my previous state of residence, I reflect on the week-long excursion. From Muncie to the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex is roughly one thousand miles, about 16 hours of drive time using the optimum route. Having made the trip many times over the last 4 decades, the distance may not have changed, but my physical stamina and mental acuity sure have!
On the way down, the first thing I noticed crossing the Texas state line was the massive clover-leaf exchange. Continuing westward, the absence of rural land was in marked contrast to the last time I made the trip about 15 years ago when the signs of approaching a large city amidst the plains only came into view about 10 to 15 miles from Big “D.” Now, the entire interstate is lined with strip centers, truck stops, hotels, malls, construction and all the other signs of urbanization. I felt like Rip Van Winkle!
Reaching Irving in record time (just over 15 hours), I napped for a couple of hours then proceeded to the ultimate destination of Austin. Passing through Waco, I was stunned to see that the sleepy little town (as I last remembered it) had boomed into its own little metropolis. No longer visible from I35 are the peaceful weeping willows along the riverbanks of the Brazos in the Baylor campus area. It’s all been replaced by urban sprawl with a huge, brand new football stadium towering above it all.
Along all of the interstates I passed through the state, I saw only one lonely steer in a small field, the rest of the scenery was completely urbanized. From the highway, it appears that Texas is no longer just a state, but an entire city unto itself.
Though spending only a few short hours in the Dallas area, the growth that has occurred since leaving in December of 2006 is simply awe-inspiring. Through the 2 and ½ decades I lived there the growth was profound but the changes over the last 12 years since my departure are simply astonishing. I moved away when I did because it was getting too big, now any thought of returning is completely out of the question – I believe I’ll just stay put in my Hoosier hometown. Like they say, “if you can’t run with the big dogs, stay on the porch.” I’ll just stay on the porch!
The nature of the trip was two-fold, part pleasure, part business. My friends from the Valley Ranch days, Chris and Debbie Berry, accommodated me in grand style, treating me like royalty. From 2 inch thick, Texas raised, Black Angus, Delmonico and New York strip steaks to lunch at Schlotsky’s (an old favorite of mine from back in the day), there was nary a moment of even the slightest hunger pang. We spent time around their beautiful pool and watching all the latest political news including the upcoming Trump summit meeting with North Korea, among other issues. The highlight was when Chris, Debbie and I watched a hilarious episode of “Family Guy.” We laughed so heartily my sides are still sore as I write this!
Plenty of time was spent on the business end of the excursion, setting-up web hosting for a new company website and ironing out some of the initial details involved. Unfortunately, about the time I started to shake off the road weariness, it was time to head on back to the Hoosier state. This trip would entail a straight drive from Austin to Muncie. It made for a pretty quick week but we managed to make progress even while experiencing a couple of minor setbacks.
Oddly enough, one of the most profound experiences occurred during the trip back when I was seeking radio stations in Illinois in the wee hours of the morning. Most radio stations these days are pop, hip-hop, Hispanic, religious, or talk shows. But I stumbled across a program out of Chicago called “Blues Before Sunrise,” which re-kindled an old flame in my musical tastes. Since my internet station of choice was taken down in my absence, the blues have come to the surface of my listening repertoire, and what a pleasure it is.