I drove from El Paso down to Port Aransas in south Texas for some business this week and I had forgotten just how BIG Texas is. To give those of you who have never driven across our state an idea of how freaking large it is, go get in your car right now and drive to Mars. Call me when you get there. I should be to about San Antonio.
The last two hours of my drive I encountered something I had never seen before; people driving THE SPEED LIMIT! OR SLOWER!! For who? For what? Where’s the Great American Disdain for any rule posted on a sign? I was flummoxed as I blew past these suspicious drivers of questionable character.
Port Aransas is on an island with no bridge, so to get there you sit in line half an hour to ride a ferry 90 seconds. No one seemed to mind the wait.
My last evening there, I threw my bike in the truck and headed for the gulf. I pulled onto a remote beach with not a soul in sight. I jumped on the bike, headed for the surf and leveled out at a depth that put my foot under water at the bottom of the crank and rode for miles.
As the tide came in (attracted, no doubt, by my magnetic personality) I maintained my tack and waves crashed halfway up the bike. Thankfully, in a stunning, rare moment of forethought, I had left my phone and keys under a bush.
Terns, sandpipers, seagulls and crabs scrambled around me as I rode. A squadron of pelicans, gliding low and slow, passed 10 feet overhead. As darkness fell, I loaded up the bike and hit the highway back to the hotel. About five miles along, I glanced down at the speedometer and found that I was driving 50. The speed limit was 60.
At that moment, I understood. And I’m all in.
Post Script: Days later I’m back in El Paso driving on Loop 375 (speed limit 60) and traffic is humming along at 75, then a faded green ’86 Taurus blows by on the shoulder of the freeway and swerves into traffic several cars ahead of me. Once he realizes that the rest of us are going a measly 15 mph over the speed limit, he swerves back onto the shoulder and is off in a cloud of dust.
THAT’S the American spirit I was talking about! With Mexican plates.