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ON A RED ROAD: Heading south to Laredo...  Oh, look! A hill!

The Red Roads of Texas
San Marcos to Laredo
Part One of Two Parts
Story & Photos by IRA KENNEDY

Try this. I think it works:   Make plans.  It doesn't matter if you want
to follow through or not.  Sometime near the end of the planning part something will come up to change all those plans for new plans
you hadn't planned on.

How do I know? (Where to begin?)  Well, a few weeks ago the Tourin' Texas route was being carved in soap stone. (Hint. You won't read about it here.) Then I was hired on to take photos for the Texas State Crime Stoppers Convention in Laredo. Next I learned that my oldest son, Dave, was going to be in Fort Worth that same week shooting pics of the golf tournament for Gannet publications.


Blancing at my Texas wall map the whole world stopped for a moment just in case I wanted to get off.  Instead, Interstate 35 held my attention like a seed tick.  I was going to traverse nearly the whole state of Texas north to south -- except for the Panhandle which mapmakers lop off and tuck away in the corner where it belongs.
       All together I was pondering over 1,000 miles. 
       With distances like that you'd think that gas was 10 cents a gallon or maybe I owned an oil well.  Naturally that's far from fact.  But you only have one hand to play and that's the one you're holding.
       I hate Interstate highways. And that little patch of I-35 between the Colorado River bridge in Austin and north to Round Rock can't get much worse.   It's near gridlock. Coal miners used to take canaries in cages down into the mines to monitor air.  When the little birdie died they lit out.  Well, I saw road-kill on that stretch of road that had all the marks of a canary.
Anyway, I bet you're wondering what "The Red Roads of Texas" has to do with the topic at hand --whatever that is.  According to Native Americans there are two roads in life. The Red Road runs north and south and it's the road of plenty and prosperity.  The Black Road is the one you want to avoid. Reaching east to west it's the path of conflict, destruction and death.  So naturally when the White Man laid tracks for the Iron Horse out west the locals knew no good would come of it.
       I reckon the Indians couldn't imagine a Red Road like I-35. Being fully alive to the situation, I decided to take Hwy 123 south from home to Stockdale, then pick up Hwy 97 to Cotulla.  That way I'd avoid most of the Interstate altogether.   From there it's I-35 to Laredo.  I'd still be on one of The Red Roads of Texas while avoiding the serious maniacs that populate the freeways.
       Besides I could write-up the adventure and accomplish something on my way south..
       Bad decision -- unless you're hiding from the law, this piece of Texas doesn't have much to offer.  
       This is the most  flat, straight, empty, dismal stretch of road yet.  My deep condolences to folks living in those parts.  I couldn't even get a radio station most of the time. And when I finally did it was all in Spanish.  Sadly, I know just enough Spanish to get me into trouble, but not near enough to talk my way back out.
       You'd think I'd be kinda excited just knowing that after Laredo I'd get to explore over 400 miles of I-35.  Oh, joy! Oh, rupture!
       Being light in the wallet at the time I studied my Roads of Texas map searching for a solution to my dilemma.  That's when I noticed Lake Casa Blanca which turned out to the the location of an International State Park.   I couldn't remember the last time I was camping -- probably a decade ago.  Truth be told, I can't remember the last time I did most things.  I mean, do you ever remember saying, "Well, that's the last time I'm doing that."? 
       Okay, maybe you do. And maybe I used to.  Memory is a slippery slope as time passes...  I don't mind aging, it just growing old that's
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       That's right!  The trip.

PAGE 1:  HEADIN' OUT  /   PAGE 2: HWY 97


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