Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Don't mess with Texas - they will put you on a bus to nowhere

Howdy y'all! Guess where I am!! By the way, that's Hi! in Texan.

I've been in Waco, Texas, for a few days and it has been pretty great. I have missed Texas. I used to live here, you know. My family lived in Austin from the summer before my freshman year of high school until November of my junior year of high school. I won't go into all the gory details here about how that all came to be. Let's just say that trouble can follow a marriage, even if the marriage relocates. More on that another day.

But Texas - oh, it's so beautiful. And the people are friendly. No, I am not being sarcastic! And I LOVE to listen to southerners talk. In fact, in just my few days here, I've already picked up a slight twang to my voice. I'll be back next week for five whole days - I can't wait to see how southern I'll go then!

But I do have one small complaint about Dallas. Specifically, about the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport. I realize that Texas does not do small. Ever. But seriously. Can we talk for a minute about the size of this airport? It goes on and on. And on. And then around a bend and on some more. And then? Try to rent a car. I dare you. No, TEXAS dares you. DFW double dog dares you. First, find your way to the little sign that says Rental Cars This Way (not really, there's an arrow). Does the arrow direct you to the rental car office? Don't be ridiculous. There's this bus stop. It's not exactly clear when you're standing there what you're really waiting for, but eventually a big bus pulls up and you and the rest of your herd will stumble on with your baggage. Then you ride. Get comfortable, you'll be there a while. A really long while. The trip out to the rental car building will take you down an access road (some of you may call these frontage roads - that is WRONG in Texas), past rolling fields of green, onto a highway, more fields, and then back off. When you reach the point where you wonder to yourself or someone sitting next to you whether the bus driver might actually be a car-jacker of some kind who is kidnapping everyone on the bus and their luggage in the hopes that someone is carrying some seriously cool contraband, well that's the point when you have about five more minutes until you reach your destination.

When you're there, make sure you ask for directions on how to get back to civilization. Seriously. Even if you are of the male persuasion. Please, for the love of all that is good, trust me on this. If you are not from Texas, I will give you a couple of pieces of advice that my traveling buddy and I learned the hard way:

1) Just because a particular road is named X where you are right now does not mean that it will continue to be named X for any further distance. In fact, it may be named both X and Y right where you are. Any map you view or person you ask will likely use both X and Y interchangeably. It's a test. That's how they know y'all ain't from 'round here.

2) Everyone - except for the rental car agents, and even that's not guaranteed - who you might ask for directions will be lovely and kind and know exactly how to get to where you want to go. They just won't be able to tell you. They will want to. And they will try their best - women will try to give you landmarks to go by. Unfortunately, telling you to turn at the Whataburger is about the same as trying to identify your blind date by looking for the one with the cell phone. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that no one could decide on one name for a road, I don't know. If you are lucky, like we were, you might find someone who is actually on their way toward your destination and they will let you follow them there. Yes, that is exactly what we did. Thanks, Ellie!

But all in all, I have really loved my few days here and I can't wait to come back next week. I haven't had my Whataburger yet, after all. But next time, I'm flying straight to Waco and skipping the DFW rental "oasis." Take that, bus-jacking luggage thieves!

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