View from the USS Lexington
There’s nothing like out-of-towners to remind you of all the things that you take for granted as a native Texan.  There’s a plethora of praise offered up to this Great State of Mine (and also the same number of criticism levied against it) but this is my own Ode to Texas:

This is the land of diesel trucks which means gas stations galore, some with over 100 pumps, others with numbers that still clack and spin, and almost all with food that you’ll actually eat on purpose.

It’s a six and a half hour drive to get to the ocean.  That’s it, which doesn’t seem that far / long at all.  Until you realize that you drive through most of the large cities in Texas to get there.  Our week-long spring road trip last year to San Antonio and Austin no longer seems as impressive when we did the drive straight in 4.5 hrs.  And then on hour six, there’s a twinkling on the horizon which are the refinery lights in the distance, then the briefly brighter spots from the flare towers, and you know you’re getting close to the coast.

Deer the size of large dogs graze fearlessly on the side of the interstates.

This great state of mine was able to convert one Michigander into a full-time Texan and convince two others that they should be winter Texans within a week of their stay.  It did so with a barrage of colour, dozens of pink, yellow, and orange roses strewn on the beach after a memorial service or an offering to the sea gods for fair fishing weather.  It did so with very white, very fine sand that grants you hours in the sun, combing for sand dollars.

This great state of mine is already throwing up wildflowers in every direction.  Flocks of birds flit about that they’ve never seen before, which the locals don’t know about either (grackles? crows?).  The tollways are 80 mph and you can easily cruise at 100, keeping up with traffic.  It grants you beautifully clear weekend days for trail riding and sometimes, a moody sky, which much like my own temperament, is cloudy and sunny from one minute to the next, changing unpredictably and at its own whim.

But best of all, this state has the friendliest people who “please” and “thank you” and “y’all come back now.”