And now to fill in the blanks left by yesterday’s cryptic report.
Interstate 10, at least where I was, had a speed limit of 80 mph (trucks are limited to 70), so getting down the road was a fairly speedy operation. (Aside: This speed limit, I suspect, reflects the reality of this road: I punched up Gwendolyn’s cruise to an indicated 81 mph, and scarcely anyone bothered to pass me. The Texas Highway Patrol, meanwhile, is ready to make sure you don’t abuse the privilege.)
The transition from arid desert scrub to Texas Hill Country isn’t exactly abrupt, though eventually I noticed that the bare spots of earth were diminishing, and by the time I got to US 290 the scenery was, if not exactly lush, certainly a lot greener in the #00FF00 sense.
Fredericksburg was about twice its usual 10,000 size, owing to some sort of Germanfest along
Main Street the Hauptstrasse and the presence of a few thousand bikers, likewise on the way to Austin.
I managed to arrive around a quarter to three, and reported in to Cousin Linda, my usual first point of contact in the ATX. News updates followed, and about five-thirty, hoping that I’d missed the worst of the traffic, I decided to go check in at my hotel, which, said the Web oracles, was a matter of 4.6 miles.
So I climbed up 32nd Street, and upon reaching I-35, I noticed that neither level (it’s a double-decker sort of road at that point) was moving. Fine, said I, I’ll duck through downtown. Bad mistake. Not only had I reckoned without the 40,000 bikers bikers, at least, don’t block traffic en masse but I had run headlong into the Austin Pride Parade, for which some of the one-way streets in town had been redesignated as no-way streets. The trip up Brazos Street from
1st Cesar Chavez Street to 7th took 52 minutes. (The usual mob along 6th Street was nothing compared to this.) I finally arrived at the hotel at seven, and in the flurry of activity that accompanies my arrival at a hotel, I managed to drop my cell phone into the black hole under the passenger seat of my car.
Now the front-back slider on this seat, it turns out, hasn’t worked in some time. (How would I know? I don’t sit there, and it’s extremely rare when anyone else does.) I could not reach the phone from front or back. Eventually I hit upon an expedient: I would use the monstrously oversized Rand McNally road atlas to push the damn phone back a couple of feet. I poked ‘n stroked ’til my wrist got numb, and finally something appeared at the back of the seat.
It wasn’t my phone. It was, in fact, a little change purse presumably owned by the aforementioned
Elizabeth Katherine Hughes, containing the usual teenage-girl detritus: pictures of friends, old movie-ticket stubs, an unopened Cracker Jack surprise, and her Edmond Memorial student ID. Inasmuch as I haven’t given any rides to teenage girls, it had to have fallen there during the period when this car was owned by someone else.
The phone showed up after another couple of minutes. Linda came by at 8-ish, and in response to my dinner request “non-chain Mexican and/or Tex-Mex” was the objective she came up with El Mercado, its original location on please-God-let-us-be-the-next-trend South First, which dished up a tremendous amount of really good stuff for not a lot of money. Worth the trip if you’re coming to town.
There will be a small-scale family reunion this evening. Beyond that, I haven’t a clue what’s going on here.