Aug 19, 2012

The Consumption Nation

My wife and I are in Texas and have been for a week. I haven't been back in this state for a few years and haven't been here for any period of time since the 70's. My father-in-law died last week and we've been trying to sort out his mess of an "estate" since. I learned a lot about why some people are careful about planning their death. The last memories of us that the people who have to sort out our crap will have can be pretty negative.

I snagged this picture from another website, but it is exactly
typical of the "traffic" we experienced in the Wichita Falls
ghost town freeway tour. 
I've been here for a week, putting on miles between Wichita Falls and Dallas, and there aren't enough Texas motorcycles on the road to warrant bothering to license motorcycles in the state. If a motorcycle is a transportation device, it falls miles below bicycles, skates, wheelchairs, Hot Wheels, and feet in miles-traveled in this state. If I throw out the few long distance travelers I've seen (maybe a half-dozen), I could easily count the number of motorcycles I've seen on the road on one hand. Pitiful.

This place is clearly oblivious of the world outside of its boarders. Cars are generally huge, mostly SUVs and single passenger pickups. Dallas is the ultimate urban sprawl collection of houses without communities. Downtown is all but dead, even the few suburban downtown areas are dead zones of empty business buildings and decaying neighborhoods. There is a light rail, but every time we've been traveling along its path the cars appear to be mostly empty. The highways, freeways, and toll roads are monuments to massive federal investment and a mindless faith that petroleum will last forever. Wichita Falls is, for example, a dying town, with a business real estate market that resembles Detroit. The place is overpass rich, though. For a town that has about as much traffic as a rural Nebraska farm town, Wichita Falls has a collection of giant overpasses and empty freeways. If I were making an "end of days" movie, I couldn't hope for a better collection of sets than in this abandoned city.

Texas drivers are mad. I mean exactly that word, too. They are a nasty combination of insane and angry. If I were forced to live here, I'd probably still ride but I'd spend a lot of my days in terror. If there is an example of a place that is actively burning up the world's resources so that their children can live in the stone age, this place has to be on the list. It's worse than LA.

When we went shopping for my grandson's birthday presents at a local Target, a man was hauling his 10-12 year-old daughter out of the store. She was kicking and screaming and nearly choking with emotion as the embarrassed man walked quickly through the store. As they approached I began to make out what she was screaming, "I'm not leaving until I get something I want!" She said it like a chant, repeatedly, all the way out the door. It felt like a national anthem after my experience in Texas.


  1. I was hoping for massive numbers of angry rebuttal comments. Perhaps you have your finger on the pulse of the state that is useful only as a direct route to Old Mexico.

  2. Wow, simply wow.

    Sorry for the passing of your father in law. Losing and then sorting through someone's life is never easy. I work at a law office and we do estate planning and probate so I see both sides of it.

    As for Texas. I think if I had any desire to go there before reading your post it is gone now. It does not sound like a pleasant place to be.

  3. I'll add my condolences for the family.

    I've heard that TX is not the best place to ride. Plus all of the roads are straight as an arrow...

  4. Unless you get down to the hill country, it is definitely a place for pick-ups and Cadillacs. A cruiser makes perfect sense if you can tolerate the heat and bad drivers.
    I was amazed the first time down in central Texas along I35. Going through towns, the exits are miles apart with service roads paralleling the freeway. It struck me as being a very inefficient way to get from A to B, within the town, plus a huge waste of real estate and pavement.

  5. Sorry about your loss. My mom was actually pretty organized about it all right up until the minute she passed, but still it was a lot of work sorting it all out. I have some relatives in Austin, Texas, who seem to like the place, and they have lived all over the USA. But, they say Austin isn't "real" Texas.

  6. We lived in Texas, twice, when I was young; Dallas and west Texas. I rode a lot, but almost always in the ditches and off-road because Texans were, then, anti-motorcycle to the level of homicdal hostility. As we drove back north, the number of motorcycles on the road steadily, but slowly, grew until we hit the Minnesota boarder where motorcycles became common. It's obviously not the weather that makes Minnesota a stronger motorcycle state.

  7. All the roads are straight? All of Texas sucks and there are few riders? Check out the Hill Country and the mountains near Big Bend. Here in Austin, we know Dallas, Houston and San Antonio suck. Haven't been to those cities in year--prefer Marfa, Fredericksburg, etc.


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