When I was a kid, sometimes on a Sunday afternoon, my dad would say, “Do you want to go for a drive?” We’d all pile into the car (the “we” that I recall most was just Dad, Mom, and me, because I was the youngest and the last one left at home) and head in some direction from the farm. I suppose there were times when Dad had a particular destination in mind, but often we’d just take out and go wherever the car, and our whims, decided, driving for a couple of hours, looking at the “sights”. On some drives, we’d drop by a relative’s house or get an ice cream cone, but usually, we just drove, finally arriving back home.
I still like taking drives. Wherever I’ve lived, I’ve often gotten into the car and just headed out without a clear destination, just enjoying the countryside and small towns I pass through. Even though I now live in the suburbs, I still enjoy driving where the houses disappear and in their place are lines of trees, open pastures full of grass, and cool streams snaking through the countryside.
Since I’m on vacation right now, but still enthralled with having my own house and not wanting to take a real vacation, today I headed west on S.H. 529, the highway that is about a half mile from my home.
From Highway 290 to near where I live, F.M. 529 (F.M. = Farm to Market. F.M. highways in Texas are usually shorter than S.H. roads (S.H. = State Highway) is 3 lanes each way, but as I drove west a few miles, it became 2 lanes each way, and once out of suburbia, it’s only a 2-lane road.
I took some detours here and there, just to check out the “sights”, but finally ended up in Bellville, a cute county seat town about 30-35 miles from my house. (Bellville is the county seat of Austin County, named for Stephen F. Austin and is steeped in Texas history.)
Despite the heat, the drive was just what I needed to get a taste of the country air and do some thinking.
With the radio playing the whole drive, I started remembering about when driving between cities, the only stations that you could tune in were local AM stations playing country western music or the drone of fire and brimstone preaching. As I was on a stretch of road between Hockley and Bellville (not on 529 then), Mix 96.5 started playing Adam Lambert’s new song, “If I Had You.” I thought how much things have changed; even a gay kid stuck out in the middle of nowhere at least can listen to Adam Lambert and know somebody gay who is successful. And that’s a good thing.
This little road trip today was also a good thing. I didn’t or couldn’t stop every place that I wanted to take a photo; some places there just wasn’t anywhere to pull over and as it got after noontime, the heat made me just want to stay in with the cool AC.
You can read the inscription on this historical marker here. This certainly gives a glimpse into what was once part of Texas history and politics, and perhaps the remnants still exist.
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