So far from Heaven
I have quite a few good friends from Texas. Tessa, Mike & Lisa, Bob H. and Bob G., and more. Individually, the Texans I've gotten to know have all been nice people. And yet...
As a state, Texas makes me uncomfortable. Although I'm legally a Texas resident and carry Texas plates on both my vehicles, I spend most of my time in New Mexico. Under normal circumstances, I only venture across the border into Texas for a few hours every two years to get my vehicles inspected. And I feel as if I'm entering alien territory every time I do.
Texas is big, arrogant, and flings its fundamentalist religion and its right-wing politics in your face. From the World's Largest Cross and the JESUS IS LORD AND SAVIOR gas station to the astronomical number of executions, Texas wants you to know that it doesn't give a good goddamn for your atheistic limp-wristed parlor-pink bleeding-heart liberal opinions.
I realize how unfair it is to make generalizations like this. After all, I grew up in New Jersey, and I've spent a fair amount of time over the years explaining to people that most of the state is neither a slum like Camden nor an oil refinery farm like Bayonne.
But Texas unnerves me. And I'm not the only one.
So why am I a "paper Texan"? Well, if New Mexico had easy vehicle registration, no state income tax, and the other attractions for retirees that Texas offers, I wouldn't be. Oh, I could always make South Dakota my domicile, as many full-time RVers do... but I have no intention of going to that part of the country. Texas is right next door to my usual haunts (which of course brings to mind the famous lament of New Mexico Governor Manuel Armijo: "Poor New Mexico! So far from Heaven... so close to Texas").
And Texas is home to the Escapees RV Club, the largest organization dedicated to the needs of fulltimers like me. The "SKPs" also operate the US's largest and (in my experience) most efficient mail forwarding facility, so it makes sense to use their "Rainbow's End" park in Livingston as my home address, even though I've never actually been there.
With all that said, it was a bit of a relief to cross the border this afternoon from Texas into Oklahoma. I-40, which had been rather rough, suddenly and magically became smooth as a baby's ass. The giant crosses and outsized flags disappeared. I don't doubt that Oklahomans are as devout and patriotic as anyone, but they don't seem to have the compulsion to poke your eye out with it. I like people who are content to be good, without having to boast about being good.
I ended a relatively easy 165-mile drive in Foss State Park. It's rather a pretty place, and surprisingly for mid-summer, almost deserted. I found a nice site with water and electric hookups, paid my twenty dollars, and turned on the air conditioner full blast—it's 95° F. outside, considerably hotter than it was yesterday in Amarillo.