Prairies & Lakes


Day two of our trip north was designed (primarily) to stay away from Houston.  We both hate big cities and this was our first opportunity to experiment with a route that avoids both Dallas/Ft Worth and Houston.  We won’t really know how happy we are with this route until tomorrow night after we have passed Texarkana and gotten back on the Interstate but the first half of the route went nicely.  We wouldn’t normally be stopping at Corpus Christi — so this wasn’t a real test but I like the route we used a lot.

If you look at the feature image and notice that area on the East side of the state called Piney Woods — that was the area we traveled through on our way South to Los Fresnos in October. In February we ran through the South Texas Plains and the Hill Country — slipping through a corner of the Prairies and Lakes district on our way out of the state.  Today’s route showed us a lot more variety in Texas with more gentle rolling hills reminding me of the drive from Milwaukee to Oshkosh but with more trees.

With an area as vast as Texas you simply can’t generalize — there is no typical Texas — and we are learning to appreciate the various “different” Texas-es!  We stopped in Madisonville for lunch at a little ma & pa place called the Walker Cafe.  Madisonville is county seat of Madison County.  Like many small Texas towns there are an abundance of awning covered sidewalks in front of shops lining the main street.  The sidewalks are elevated above the street level — as they might have been in the days of big cattle raising. And, because it’s a county seat there’s a county courthouse set in the middle of a square around which the towns businesses (and lawyers offices) are gathered.  It’s quaint,  efficient, and in many ways a dying way of life.  The Walker Cafe though is an institution where all the locals seem to gather, know each other, joke and laugh and wolf down the day’s specials.  I missed out on a lovely blackberry cobbler but I had run out of room long before thinking about dessert.

I have come to believe that the double yellow lines on Texas secondary highways do not mean what I had always understood them to mean.  The single yellow lines tell us that it’s a passing zone, and the double yellow lines tell us that you should only pass with extreme speed and daring.  We have been passed in what we used to think were “no passing zones” so often we must surely have understood the driver’s handbook wrongly. 🤔😏

This stretch of road on Texas 21 is a good example of why I said it reminded us of some of the roads in Wisconsin.  Any state as large as Texas is going to have a variety of conditions and having the time to explore these back roads could easily take a lifetime.

We’ve been South all winter and quite forgot about spring bug season.  We were powerfully reminded today.  It’s love bug season.  We stopped to fuel up after our windscreen got so heavily splattered by bugs that we were having a hard time seeing the road.  I cleaned up the windscreen, we hit the road again and we had to stop again in about 30 miles because the bugs were so heavy that the window was splattered to the point of no longer being safe to drive all over again.

Of course we drove a few miles further and we got past whatever bugs it was that were crazy mad with mating pheromones and were getting splattered on our windows.  The rest of the trip was just fine.  I’ve been through other splatter zones in the past but this was as bad as I have seen.  For a few years I always seemed to find myself in Georgia at lovebug season and regular stops at the truck stop to clean my windows were just part of the routine.  I won’t say I miss it;  I will say that it brought back a lot of memories.

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