Friday I posted about wide open spaces and our beloved Texas picnic areas, but on this trip, that is now mostly behind us. As Potter Stewart famously said about obscenity, "the west" is difficult to define, but we know it when we see it. While folks who've never made the journey might think of the dividing line as being some well-defined geographic or cartographic feature, perhaps the Continental Divide, or the Mississippi River, or even the Mountain/Central time zone boundary, for us it is a fuzzy swath up the middle of the country. To the west are mostly wide open spaces, mountains, and open range dotted with towns and cities at long intervals, and to the east is mostly agriculture, with towns coming at closer and closer intervals as one moves further east, until there is no space at all between them nearest the eastern seaboard.
Here in Texas that fuzzy swath occurs somewhere around US-281, which runs from the Oklahoma border at Wichita Falls to the Mexican border at McAllen. Yesterday morning found us still in the west, at another picnic area just outside the little town of Robert Lee (map) near the Colorado River (the "other" one). Friday's drive was lovely and relaxing, even though I fought crosswinds a good part of the day. We "crossed our wake," as boaters would say, in Sterling City along US-87, but mostly we covered new ground.
Yesterday's drive was also lovely, under a sky full of spectacular clouds. But as we crossed over that fuzzy boundary from west to east, the little towns started coming more and more quickly, and progress slowed. The speed limit on these roads is still 75 between towns (we do them at 60 or so), but it drops to 35-45 in town. This is the reason that routing software works so hard to put us onto those limited-access highways that we so often shun. As we move now through the southern portion of the great plains, these little towns become part and parcel of our daily scenery, and many even offer overnight RV parking right in town.
Yesterday we had our sights set on one such town, Gatesville, which our little guide from the Texas DOT said had a city park with sewer, water, and electric hookups and offered two free nights' stay. We found the park, which, had we stayed, we would have had all to ourselves, right along the Leon River. But signs said RV camping was $20 per night, with no mention of two free, and told us to pay at the police station. A quick phone call revealed that they had done away with the "two nights free" policy after local campground owners made a stink with the city council, and so we opted to move on. Too bad for the steakhouse in town, where we had planned to eat.
Instead we came another 40 miles here to a Walmart in Waco, Texas (map). We passed a pair of picnic areas on the way, but our in-house food supply was running low, and cell coverage was spotty, so we kept rolling. Once here we walked over to Rosati's Pizza right next door for dinner; despite the name, they had plenty of entree options that were not pizza, as well as a full bar and table service.
As long as we are here at the store, we will run in shortly for more provisions before continuing east. We are now ahead of schedule, so we can relax a bit in the slower-moving east. I expect tonight we will still be in Texas, but rather near the state line at the Sabine River. Apparently it will snow there overnight, so we'll be giving the Webasto a workout.