Mostly empty as far as the eye can see, driving across Texas is an intense experience.
Desolate and monochromatic, the vast emptiness is dotted by millions of grazing cattle, thousands of genuflecting oil derricks, wild boar hurtling across the Interstate , abandoned, re-imagined and rejuvenated towns, and magically, from the rolling hills and steep plateaus both gleaming cities and industrial monoliths appear like Oz.
Early morning on Gruene’s main corner. The mercantile building is to the left and the Gristmill is the former Cotton Gin now a restaurant with 11 distinct dining areas.
Since the early 1700s, Mexicans, Europeans, most notably Germans, and Americans have been staking claims in this too-cold-and-too-hot barren and brutal landscape.
Even a casual reader of this blog understands that MacGyver, responsible for all of our photographs, is an artist. He sees beauty and complexity in frost on windshields and lighting fixtures in restaurants, as well as paint on canvas. He has exposed me to a lot of art in the past 25 years.
New York sculptor Gedi Sibony is inspired by non-traditional materials, plywood, cardboard, carpet, garbage bags, vinyl and used pieces of dry box trailers. This piece of a dry box trailer was valued at $80,000.
Driving our tractor-trailer unit more than 800,000 miles around North America has rewarded us with a surprisingly art-filled lifestyle. Our favorite artist is Mother Nature. She paints never-ending, constantly-changing landscapes that continue to thrill us, and chill us, every day.
We smelled it before we turned the corner. The heady aroma of sizzling beef.
“Brought to you by iOS9,” said MacGyver as we pulled up to The Brick. A one-story, red brick building with the bad ass architectural element of a door straight out the back for quick getaways whether from the spouse, the law or the revenuers.
The Brick, a burger and beer joint, located in Jonesville, Indiana, off I-65, first opened for business in the early 1900s. During Prohibition it became a gas station. Its current look is from the 70s, fake wood paneling and naugahyde booths and bar stools.
The new iPhone operating system has a right swipe to find local dining, shopping and entertainment. He clicked on the “bar” tab and up came The Brick. The Yelp reviews say: Talk to Columbus (Indiana) people and they’ll tell you The Brick has the best burger anywhere hands down.
Our year began with a 2,599 mile deadhead, driving from Quebec to Washington state, burning fuel on our own dime, because we couldn’t find a westbound load.
Normally, we’d wait. Or we’d follow the freight. But last January, we couldn’t. A plane was waiting. Not any plane, the Dreamliner. And not just any seats. Champagne-swilling, Business Class points rides to India, through Shanghai and Bangkok.
We try to fly through Shanghai to Asia because during the layover MacGyver likes to ride the 431 kph MagLev into the city for Dim Sum. This time we were foiled by a mysterious Shanghai rule. Unlike traveling through Beijing, where bags are checked to the final destination, in Shanghai, we were forced to not only clear customs but collect our bags and check in again, closing the MagLev time window.
That was the harbinger of freight. Or more accurately, fright.
Looking back six months, we can see that freight fell off the cliff on January 2, the day we delivered a diesel engine to Rifle, Colorado.