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Published: August 26th 2017
Well this is interesting times to be in Texas!
At the end of the last blog we were about to set off across country to Dallas, after saying goodbye to Simon who was jetting off on a 3 flight trip to a friend's wedding in France
However, it is now Friday evening here and things are very interesting in Texas at the moment.
The South East coast of Texas is at this very moment being hit by a Category 4 Hurricane, Harvey, the strongest to hit the US since 2004 and the strongest in Texas since 1961
Category 4 - 130+ mph winds, 30+ inches of rain, coastal storm surge of 20 feet or more. They are forecasting widespread catastrophic flooding, and are expecting major property damage and probably deaths. They have just announced a confirmed 125mph gust in one location.
This is all happening about 350 miles south of us, though we are due to get closer tomorrow by going to Austin. Our plans were to go to Austin, then further south to San Antonio then, on Wednesday next week cut across east to Houston for a baseball match on Thursday evening
followed by a day at Space Centre Houston. We would then go back north to get to Graceland. However, we are adjusting these plans on a day by day basis, and are starting to accept that we may not go any further south than Austin. We have currently got The Weather Channel on the TV who are giving rolling live coverage of Harvey. The screen shots will show you something of what we are watching. It is not looking good down there and the on-land storm has barely started yet. We will know more when we wake up in the morning.
So, going back to Atlanta where we said our goodbyes to Simon. From Atlanta we had a nearly 800 mile drive to Dallas, our next planned destination. We allowed two days for this, intending to drive as far as possible on the first day. In the end we did around 650 miles of mostly easy driving on the same road, Interstate 20, all the way, until we stopped and found ourselves a cheap motel for the night.
Along the way we stopped off late morning to find a coffee. We ended up off the interstate at Livingston
where we came across the delightful Touch Of Home Bakery, run by Mennonites. They run what, in the area, is called a meat+2 restaurant. Each day of the week they have a choice of 2 to 6 'meats' - fried chicken, meatloaf, brisket, catfish, .... -and half a dozen or more sides. The menu is different each day but the same from week to week. When we entered lunch had been going for about 30 minutes and the place was heaving, with a queue of around 30 inside. We had a plate of fried catfish, with hush puppies ( deep fried cornmeal balls) and coleslaw, and took away a slice of pecan and apple pie. Whilst we ate the q never got any smaller. There were truckers, farmers, office workers, medical staff in scrubs, police,..... and they had a very active drive through window too.
It was delicious and delightful.
Other amusements on the drive across was occasionally coming across rabid right wing radio stations . One was making a big deal of the fact that this weekend is 2nd Ammendment Tax Holiday Weekend in Texas, when guns and ammo can be bought tax free!
day our travel credit card was rejected 3 times. When we logged on that evening we found an email telling us the account had been suspended due to unusual activity. Paul sent an email, and when we woke up in the morning a reply confirmed that that had been sufficient detail for them and the account was freed up again. Phew.
They do things different in Texas, speed limit 75 (rather than 65 or 70), no motorcycle helmets, truckers doing 75 too! Scary at times.
We found another quaint eat place for breakfast. A 1920s barn, rebuilt inside a metal building after having been hand sawn into 2 and being relocated. American pancakes and French toast put us on nicely.
We had a motel on the outskirts of Dallas and used the DART to travel in. That is Dallas Area Rapid Transport (train) not the river back home.
This meant that in the afternoon we were standing in Dealey Plaza where, on November 22nd, 1963 President JF Kennedy was shot and died shortly afterwards. The area is essentially the same as it was on that fateful day, with a couple of crosses marked on the road
to show where the car was when the second and third shots hit . The first missed. The memorial in the area is really quite small and modest. Several tourists braving standing in the road in the face of oncoming traffic. The grassy knoll is as seen, though the fence has been replaced by a replica several times.
Today we went back to the area and the Texas Book Depository 6th Floor JFK Museum. This is a museum about JFK and that fateful day located in the actual location where Lee Harvey Oswald fired from. Another excellent museum. Another excellent section exploring some of the many conspiracy theories. Look at the sign from outside the building where there has been some defacing of 'allegedly'.
It was interesting to contrast the different treatment of JFK's views on Civil Rights between this museum and the Civil Rights Museum in Mephis. In Mephis, the view was that JFK had been a reluctant embrace of the civil rights campaign. He was concerned that it would be a vote loser in 'the south'. Here in Dallas it is presented as one of his lasting legacies.
The whole episode clearly still has an
ongoing impact on the US psyche.
Time to settle down. Will be interesting to see how those beneath Harvey have fared come the morning!
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