Sunday, April 01, 2007

Why I Love the Hill Country

I decided to take Mom's suggestion and go the scenic route to Canyon Lake on Monday rather than the straight shot down I-35. We left Killeen on Hwy 190 and headed West towards Lampasas. Now, TPTB have renamed that highway the "Central Texas Expressway". Yeah, right. For someone who thinks of herself as an iconoclast, I can certainly be a stickler for tradition, sometimes. That stretch of road has always been and will always be, 190.
We had some sprinkles of rain, but nothing heavy enough to turn the wipers past the intermittent speeds while we were going through Copperas Cove and Kempner. When we turned onto 281 in Lampasas, though, the rain got a little heavier. I had to turn the wipers on and keep them on. But it wasn't anything I couldn't handle. It was nice to see Lampasas again. I hadn't been through there in years.
The last time I had passed through, the Dearly Beloved and I were dating. We were on our way to Ozona to visit an old friend of his who happened to be the High Sheriff of Crockett County at the time. But, that a story for another blog. We stopped at that wonderful park there at the junction of 190 and 281 and had a lunch of Pasta Salad I had made the night before.
It seemed like every little town we passed through brought back another memory from my past. When I was growing up in Killeen, my family spent a lot of leisure time in Oakalla, Burnet, Marble Falls, Johnson City and the other towns in that area. My Aunt FayeBelle and Uncle Spencer had a Lake house at Lake Buchanan, my Daddy's parents had friends with a place on Lake Inks, one of my Nanny's brother's lived in Marble Falls. My GrandDad's baby Brother owned a Restaurant in Marble Falls for a time. Seems like Daddy really liked Oakalla for some reason, was there a deer camp close to there, or did he know the Postmaster there?
There's still a little Drive-in restaurant on the east side of Burnet. I remember Nanny always wanted to stop there on the way to wherever we were going. She had a jones for soft-serve ice cream. Don't ask me why. She made some of the most divine home-made ice cream you've ever tasted, but she LOVED commercial, soft-serve. And of course, if us kids were in the car, she could always tell Grandad, "Stop the car here Roy, the kids need to go to the restroom, I'll bet." And as long as we were stopped...well, why not get a small cone? I never noticed that devious streak in her when she was alive, it's only in retrospect that I see it. Now I know where I learned it. *g*
I did notice something new in Burnet. They have an Air/Plane museum. I didn't stop because Mom isn't interested in things like that. And it was raining on the trip down on Monday and again on the trip home on Thursday. But I did notice several WWII era planes. Don't ask me what type, I couldn't tell you. We were going 55. But all I had to do was mention it's existence to pique the Dearly Beloved's interest. Maybe in the Fall, we can go together. I'd love to take a slow trip. Share with him all these places that touch off synaptic fires in my brain.
And the scenery itself was a balm to my spirit. A deep and abiding love of Texas is coded into my DNA. But an appreciation for the beauty of the Hill Country grew in my childhood. All those road trips cutting through the hills, literally. The roads had been cut through the massive rolling hills. Crossing a multitude of tiny creeks with a flow so small you could barely see it unless there had just been a "gully-washer" of a rain storm and rivers so wide they were practically lakes. Not everyone thinks the combination of Cedar, Native Oak, Prickly Pear and prairie grass is pretty. But that's the vegetation I find glorious. It speaks of HOME. And for for 4 relaxing days, I was right smack dab in the middle of memory lane.
I enjoy the High Desert of West Texas. I adore being in Terlingua. There are times I wish I could live on the Gulf Coast of Texas 4 months out of the year. But this past week made me realise just how much of my soul is tied up in the Hill Country. If, for some unlikely reason, I could never go back to the desert or the Gulf, I would miss it.
But if I could never go back to the hills and rivers and lakes of the Hill Country, part of my spirit would die. Truly.


Walrilla said...

What a beautiful post about a beautiful area near and dear to my heart, too. Thank you for writing this.


phlegmfatale said...

You're speaking my language, Holly. When my family moved to Texas in 1979, I was in my early teens, and mom and dad took us on a drive around hill country every Sunday afternoon. Even the scrubby desolation of west Texas and the Panhandle fire my imagination - there's something soulful and undeniably beautiful about this whole state - even the part that smells too much of cow - that makes me feel at home, no matter that my origin was elsewhere. Love it, love the description of your trip. I'll look forward to the blog next fall telling of your trip with DB. Good to have you back in the neighborhood, though!

DW said...

I feel you, I see the country, but it is my hills, and my place. I know the feeling, I want to go back.

The hills, the cool pines, those long dusty roads of summer. The times that passed on slow summer nights. The cousins and kin we will never see again.