Posts Tagged ‘sunshine’

Armadillo’s are nocturnal creatures, the only ones I’ve seen have been laying dead by the side of the road . I am  a crepuscular creature, preferring  the twilight and  dawn hours when it’s cool. I like to head out early and come home late, before the sun explodes and showers it’s violent burning radiation onto the world . It’s the singular intensity of  radiation that really turns me on. I love the incredible color separation at high noon when every blade of grass, tree and golden hay bale in the field is glowing  and redefined as if by HDR Photoshop effect. I come from a place where the sun rarely shines…and when it does it’s weak and apologetic.

I have developed a special appreciation for the sun after growing up in sun starved Vancouver BC Canada where people walk with their hidden heads bowed submissively and that element of their miserable existence has become an aspect of their societies wider personality. It’s not called ‘No-fun Vancouver’ for no good reason. Events are contrived and politically managed….there is no spontaneity there…people are never free to be …outside. Its the sunshine and being able to live out of doors that makes places like Texas so cool.

When we drive down the Texas highways and the clouds pop out glowing white against an intensely cerulean sky as if we’re sitting in a moving IMAX 3-D theater….it’s otherworldly. I can imagine coming to an understanding why people see the face of God more often in places where nature is such an intense experience. This weekend we visited historic Jefferson in Johnson County on the Louisiana border and Greenville…further north towards Oklahoma. The higher elevation of Johnson County produced a surprise… tall pines forests as opposed to the dry deserts of southern plains. Jefferson is where the bayou’s begin and steam boat travel was once possible from Baton Rouge on the Gulf Coast.

On the way we stopped in McKinney for lunch…. a sweet and well preserved old west  town north of Plano on the 75 Hwy North of Dallas.  We stop as much as we can in whatever local phenomena happens along the way….this time it was the Dairy Queen in Farmersville, maybe one of the last whitest places in America. We caught the lunch crowd as the Baptist church across the road was getting out.

Strangers are obviously unusual in rural Texas, we turned the conversation down to a whisper when walking through the door. I wanted to apologize for Canada burning down the White House in the War of 1812….but  a mixed couple with strange accents and glowing sun tans was as much as  this crowd could handle.  I learned something….I now know you can order biscuits and peppery sausage gravy at the Farmersville Dairy Queen.

Road trips through small town America have to taken in convertibles. Its true….you can drive for days and still wake up in Texas. The open roof adds intensity to the tactile experience… like taking communion with the world around you. The scenery and sounds blast by in motion and audible parallax while wind buffets and slaps your face and  sunshine burns your skin raw so that you glow…and exhibit raccoon eyes in the rear view mirror… it’s exhilarating. Before settling on  Camaros we drove many different vehicles. I find the Camaro Convertible to be the best road trip car I have ever driven.

Having the top down eliminates the bubble effect of an enclosed vehicle with a favorite radio station keeping you anchored in the past. The open road is life being lived…most times without conversation, you sit in awe as the planet spins by beneath you….you’re tied to a strip of fading asphalt so you don’t lift off and fly. After every road trip we return home to see ourselves in the mirror…sunshine silly and smiling like delighted children….before plunging into our pool….. knowing we’ve done something important with our lives by living for today.

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I had to escape. I couldn’t take it anymore. I’ve left my fellow Canadians behind to fend for themselves. The bleak misery of a Vancouver winter is more than I can bear…mea culpa….I’m weak…..I need sunshine to live. This peripatetic lifestyle is an addiction. I admit that I am as comfortable living in a hotel  as most people are curled up in their beds.

Frankly nothing changes for me while in one place or another……satellite television and the internet are  the worlds great equalizers. As an English speaker I feel as if we rule the world. There’s no place we can go to feel completely out of touch. If you don’t travel extensively then please trust me…there is no place in the world that doesn’t pipe CNN and MSNBC into your set top. The growth of globalization has had unintended consequences for travelers in the number and choice of hotel and residential stay styles we have to choose from. I prefer the “long stay suite with a kitchen’ variation because we like to cook our own food from time to time and keep things in the fridge away from the potential of contamination.

Wireless and broadband are almost ubiquitous now. The technology has certainly changed my world. I’m old enough to remember sending telegrams, telex’s , postcards ( don’t you miss the personal touch?) and snail mail..then waiting in line for the one overseas telephone at the local post office at Christmas with the other foreigners lucky enough to be away from it all and not having made a phone call in months.

No more, not only can we work remote from anywhere on the planet…and get paid deposits to banking and investing online, worldwide….we access our favorite daily newspapers in real time as if we’d never left home. Hell, I can even vote remote. Anyway…I’ve tumbled down to Texas….and the living is easy.

Not much has happened since 1964. The world may have changed, but I have stayed much the same. I’m just a bit older, but not much worse off for the rambunctious wear and tear of 40 years ‘on the road’. 1964 was the year of my emancipation, the time I grabbed the brass ring of freedom and ran screaming for the hills, proverbially speaking.

If I was to do the same thing today I would be running ahead of labels that would have seemed entirely alien to me in the context of what the world looked like in the fall of 1964. At that time, personal freedom and independence was something to be gained and cherished, a higher calling and a bid to live a lifestyle of wicked delirium, to join in on the beggars banquet that defined the Age of Aquarius. Today’s world would have disowned someone like me as an incorrigible homeless tramp.

In 1964 I was one of a vanguard of people who like the Chrysalis yearned to break free and seek the sunshine of a new age. The concept of being homeless had not been invented yet. There hadn’t been any hobo’s in the streets since the 1930’s passed decades earlier. There was a profound differance between the poverty of the 1930’s and the wanton rejection of wealth and materialism in the 1960’s. Poverty in the 1960’s…was cool.

A new tribe had formed out of a disaffected generation, traveling from one crash pad to another commune became a calling. New destinations were as interconnected as the strings of a dream-catcher. The people who had answered the call of the road became like princes and princesses of old, wandering easily from one pleasure palace to another, bearing gifts, news and stories of what lie ahead.

As I lay here on a bed of blossoming clover amidst the honey bee’s and bumble flies I am swept back to those simple times when wealth and materialism meant nothing to me. I have reverted to living day to day, as I would have all those years ago, and it appeals to me that I am much the same person as was, remaining true to my core values, unchanged, unfettered and free to wander the world.

Sunshine and swimming pools. It sounds like a phrase from a brochure doesn’t it? For most travelers, this is the reality of dealing with Dallas. When it is as hot as it is here these days, the strategy is to stay cool and out of the direct sunlight during the peak hours of the day. Fortunately, the humidity is relatively low right now.

We’re enjoying what you can call a ‘dry heat’. I have been to the desert elsewhere and I would describe this ‘dry heat’ phenomena as a scirrocco, the kind that desiccates the bodies of any who fall prey to the heat  leaving nothing but a shriveled mummified husk poking out of the sand.

Getting around here would be a challenge for anyone who hasn’t rented a car. Dallas has been designed around the automobile. If you were to look at a map of the city you would see that the city is criss crossed with freeways and off ramps accessing the various districts.

To be fair this is a typical urban design that one finds throughout the United States. Because of the distances traveled between points in the city and it’s ubiquitous suburbs, the car is a necessity of life. Public transportation outside the downtown core can not be relied on to be a viable alternative.

The car is king in Dallas. Having said that, it is a very well laid out city and very easy to find your way around on the freeway system. Every address is punctuated by the freeway exit it has proximity to. Literally everything is either on one side of the freeway or the other. Looking beyond the politics of urban transport, the car culture is very much a  part of the Texan lifestyle, distances around the state are enormous.

Texans, like most Americans, are highly mobile. People in the United States think nothing of traveling from state to state for lifestyle and employment. I have rarely met people here who have put down roots where they were themselves born and remain there for life, that’s not the American way. That’s a nice thing about American culture is that they feel a sense of belonging to the entire country and not just some regional and social alliance. As a Canadian I can attest to the fact that in Canada it is entirely the opposite. In Canada the national enforcement of multiculturalism has created a tapestry of ethnic ghetto’s from which few newcomers escape inside their generation.

The Texan culture is strong. People are extremely proud to be from Texas. People are undeniably happy here, friendly and amicable, as if hospitality is at the root of the Texan social structure. I have seldom experienced a place where people are so genuinely and consistently open and honest with the social fashion of greetings. I have to say that the Texas style of overt direct politeness is refreshing. It’s the way I remember Canada was when I was a child in the 1950’s, sadly no more.

(to be cont’d)