From Austin, I motor up I-35 to Dallas through Texas’s Bible Belt. Towns like West and Waco jam the airwaves with sermons about the holy responsibilities of man and wife and how to ‘get in touch with your spouse.’ The western front of America’s culture wars is a boring place.
The Blanton Museum of Art’s Hopper picture, ‘Harbor Shore, Rockland’ (1926) is so obscure that when I first contacted the museum about it they denied its existence.
Austin, the state capital of Texas, is nestled in Hill Country, eight hours east of Carlsbad. The pretty rolling hills outside of Austin are covered by the first deciduous trees I’ve seen since Flagstaff. It’s a welcome refreshment from the searing heat of the plains.
Between the smogged, third-world freeways of El Paso, Texas and the strip malls of Carlsbad, New Mexico there is nothing. I cross the vast, open mesas of the Llano Estacado of west Texas on a straight, two-lane road. For hundreds of miles, there is no water, food, gas or living creature of any kind, apart from the occasional rocketing semi-trailer or pick-up truck driven by a cowboy-hatted Texan.