7 Oct 2009, 11:08am
Bicycles History Oil and gas prices Roads Travel:

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Hello from Hugh Hemphill

Right off the bat, I’m not from these parts.  I hail, let’s get this out of the way right now so we can forget about it, from Scotland.  And yet I sound like an Englishman.  Go figure.  I’ve been here since 1991, eighteen years, almost two-thirds of my adult life.  I came here at thirty and as I stare fifty right in the face let me tell you that coming to Texas remains one of my better decisions.  I like it here.  A lot.

You have to bring something of yourself to appreciating Texas.  It ain’t like Scotland, where the beauty is omnipresent, so much so you become inured to it, like flower pattern wall paper.  After a while you just don’t see it any more.  Another castle?  Ho-hum.  Formal gardens.  Been there, done that.  Mountains, rivers and lakes, a different vista from the brow of each hill?  Just another day at the office.  What’s on the radio?

 At first, I admit, I was taken aback by Texas.  A drive to Corpus Christi yielded not much in the way of variety, certainly from the freeway, and the coast line left a lot to be desired in the drama department also.  Ah, but being able to swim in late October, that sure has a lot to be said for it.  I began to view the impressive bridge to North Padre in a different light.  Not to mention the high bridge in the city center.  Not bad.  Not bad at all.

A visit to Fredericksburg not long after, and I was beginning to get the plot.  Scaling Enchanted Rock, followed by some authentic German cuisine in an eatery where English seemed to be a second language and I began to see that Texas can provide pretty much what ever it is you might want to find, and a lot more besides, if only you decide to look.  Is anything more true than everyone is someone in Luckenbach?  I doubt it.  The back roads began to beckon and I felt no need to resist their siren song.

More on these journeys later, I hope.  Suffice it to say that driving the canyon country along Highway 337 between Medina and Vanderpool is breathtaking each and every time I swing a half good reason to go there.  The river road from Lost Maples to Hunt and Kerrville is another ride to savor, frequently.  My favorite road out of San Antonio is Highway 90 to the west, to Del Rio and beyond, except, of course, for the nasty little burg of Bracketville, and its omnipresent speed trap.  Racket-vile, more like, but that’s just shade to offset the otherwise goodness of the journey.

By now I think I have visited each and every town in a one hundred mile radius of San Antonio, from, let’s say, Charlotte to Comfort, from Sabinal to Stockdale.  Often for pleasure, sometimes on business, especially when I was researching for the book on San Antonio’s railroads.  Recently I have taken another leap backwards and reintroduced my backside and legs to the pleasures of the bicycle.  So far, in my first year, I have been, apart from just going to and from work, as far as Mission Espada and Canyon Lake, including River Road.

I drive vintage vehicles too, such as a 1924 fire truck, as part of my job at the Texas Transportation Museum.  There might be someone else in this city who includes being able to drive a Ford Model T in his or her job description but I have yet to meet this fortunate person, although George Alva at the Yellow Taxi Company comes very, very close.  I dare say I shall, if good fortune allows, and I am allowed to continue with this venture, go further down these avenues with y’all at sundry junctures.

To see the old cars I drive for the Texas Transportation Museum, click here.


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