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Lately we’ve done a lot of roadtrips here in Texas and Eastern New Mexico. I’ve written about my trip to a dude ranch in Bandera, a girlfriend getaway in San Angelo, skiing in Taos & skiing in Santa Fe, and a conference in Austin. A lot more are coming – just as soon as I sifted through all the pics we took when our family was visiting. I usually write mainly about the actual destinations and less about how we get there. Texas is huge! If you decide to go anywhere you better book a flight or get ready for a road trip that takes a looooong time. The car trips can get kind of boring, because there are stretches between cities here in Texas where you see nothing but farmland or dessert-like strips for miles and miles and miles. So, I started taking pictures of what we usually see of the Texas countryside on our trips. I think I got most of it now 🙂 So, here we go with what you can see driving through Texas.

There are really, really long roads that seem to lead nowhere. Sometimes you don’t see another car for half an hour (unheard of in Germany!). Some of these roads are windy (like the one pictures below of driving down the Caprock), but most are so straight that it seems unreal. And it’s so hot here that many times the roads seem to be covered in water – like a weird type of mirage. Some of the roads here are also kind of old and you can see lines on the roads where it broke and was fixed. I don’t know if it’s because the roads are so hot or because the huge semis have such bad tires to start out with, but you see blown tires by the side of the road in spades. It’s acually kind of scary! One time, we drove to Dallas and a tire exploded on a semi right in front of us. It’s really only thanks to Marco’s super-speedy reflexes that we didn’t have a huge crash. Ever since then I keep much more distance to semis in front of me – especially in the summer which is when you see  more and more of the blown tires on the road.

Texas Countryside: Long Roads

Texas Countryside: mirage-like water on the road

Texas Countryside: broken road

Texas Countryside - Blown Tires

Usually you see very, very far on these long roads without hills or mountains in sight. But it’s also not uncommon that out of a sudden you drive into a dirt/dust/sand storm like you see below. It’s weird, because usually the sky here is perfectly blue with very few clouds. But since it is very, very windy in West Texas and it is crazy dry (especially this year!), the wind sometimes picks up the dirt and dust and you go from perfectly clear air to dust within a few miles. Don’t get me started on my fear that one of these days a tornado watch or warning will turn into an actual tornado, but sometimes you see little dirt devils on the road which look like mini-tornados. Marco was quick enough to capture the one below here.

Texas Countryside: Dirt Storm

Texas Countryside: Dirt Devil

I’ve already written about how many pump jacks and windmills you see driving through West Texas. I actually thought that pump jacks were called oil pumps until I wrote that post 🙂 Thanks for clearing that up, Shanna! You woudn’t believe how many words in the English language I still don’t know. Or forget on my “bad language” days. But that’s a whole ‘nother post 🙂 Anyways, back to the windmills… I also love that picture with the windmill and the train below. There are thousands (millions?) of windmills and so many trains here, but I rarely see them that close together. Talking about trains, they are insanely long here. They can be literally miles long!

Texas Countryside: Pump Jack

Texas Countryside: Pump Jack

Texas Countryside: Windmills

Texas Countryside: Windmill and Train

Texas Countryside: long train

And what would a road trip through the Texas countryside (well, closer to the tiny little towns on the way, more like) be without the ubiquitous water towers everywhere. In Germany, I’ve never seen one and before moving here I really only knew them from American TV shows and movies (That 70’s show, anybody?). They still make me smile sometimes, because something about them is so inherently American to me. I guess there really is no other way to get decent water pressure without hills or mountains anywhere close. I love that on the one pictures below you can actually see the logo of the town’s football team – another very American thing to me. There are only a handful of American football teams in Germany and none really get any recognition. And college sports aren’t a big deal either. High school sports? Pretty much nonexistent. Compare that to Friday Night Football in a small Texas town 🙂 Almost as ubiquitous as the water tower? The tumbleweed. I’m thrilled to report that we managed to take a picture of one. Another somewhat common sight? Religious billboards. I already wrote about them in a post of my Only in Texas series, but I couldn’t leave them out here, now could I? Something else you see closer to towns sometimes are cute, old bridges. Check out the one below.

Texas Countryside - Water Tower

Texas Countryside: tumbleweed

Texas Countryside: Religious Billboard

Texas Countryside: bridge

And what would Texas be without farming? When you fly over Texas, you see these huge round patches of farmland everywhere. When you drive through Texas, you see fields of cotton, corn, etc. You also see lots of farming equipment and cattle. Boy, is there a lot of cattle! Mixed with whatever fumes come from the oil fields, you sometimes don’t know what’s worse. And on a road trip you can’t help driving through it and getting your whole car kind of stinky. Luckily, that usually passes fairly quickly though. And in order not to end on such a stinky note, let me tell you about something else Texas has? Gorgeous sunsets! I don’t think I’ve seen sunsets like they have here anywhere else in the world. The colors are just amazing!

Texas Countryside: farms from above

Texas Countryside: Farming

Texas Countryside: Farming

Texas Countryroads: Cows

 

Texas Countryroads: Cow on a Hill

Texas Countryside: cotton

Texas Countryside: cotton in the sunset

Texas Countryside: sunset

I already wrote a post about driving through New Mexico a while ago and included pictures of an old windmill, a crazy long road, some sad cowboys, and a house on the way to its new home, so I’ll refer you to that post for these pics – even though you’re just as likely to see these things in Texas. And in the spirit of full disclosure… I think some of the above pics might have been taken just across the border in New Mexico. I am not totally sure.

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20 Comments

  • Liz says:

    Great pics… Thanks for reminding me that Texas can be pretty interesting… Familarity can breed contempt sometimes… 🙁

    • Sabrina says:

      Thanks!! I hear you on the familiarity, Liz! That’s what I love about writing this blog. It makes me see my (temporary?) home in a more tourist-y and sometimes more interesting light 🙂

  • jade says:

    Great photos! I always hated driving through Texas when I would come from Florida to L.A. It was SOOO long! These pictures bring back memories!

    • Sabrina says:

      It’s a huge state, isn’t it? It’s about 9 hours from West Texas to Houston… when we drove that amount of time in Germany when I was a kid, we usually crossed 2-3 countries 🙂 Hope some of the memories were good – not just being bored out of your mind 🙂

  • Your photo essay of Texas is great! Not the usual “travel” photos which is probably why I liked them so much. I would say most people don’t realize how large Texas is or how very desolate some parts are. The pictures of cotton plants made me smile and think of my mom. Her family were migrant cotton pickers from Oklahoma!
    Debbie Beardsley recently posted..Fabulous Friday – European Tidbits

    • Sabrina says:

      Thank you!! I really like the cotton pics too. Marco took them a little while ago and I never realized how beautiful cotton plants could look.

  • Great photo essay! I can’t wait to finally visit this state!
    Christy @ Ordinary Traveler recently posted..Photo of the Week- Trinidad State Beach – Humboldt

  • R. Sherman says:

    Nice photos. I was wondering if you’ve ever driven through Big Bend Country. The drive from the “Kent” exit on I-10 south to Alpine, TX is great, as well as the drive north from Van Horn to Guadalupe Mountains National Park. Well worth a weekend, if you’ve got the time.

    Cheers.
    R. Sherman recently posted..Its Just Another Day On The Calendar

    • Sabrina says:

      Thanks for the suggestions! I haven’t been to Big Bend Country yet. I heard it’s beautiful though. Which time of the year do you think is best for a trip down there?

  • Ooh, there are some really artsy photos here! 🙂 Religious billboards always crack me up as well, and those big pump jacks (for oil, I presume?) are something we only started to see in Texas. Such a quirky state to drive through. 😛
    Christy @ Technosyncratic recently posted..Pole- Pedal- Paddle

    • Sabrina says:

      Thanks, Christy! Some are mine, some are Marco’s 🙂 I’m really getting more into taking pictures these days. I really enjoy it! I think those pump jacks are for oil too.

  • Suzy says:

    I’m headed out on a road trip tomorrow through Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada and California. Your post got me excited for the open road. Even though those stretches can be long, I like how you find such subtle things that are in fact so American.
    Suzy recently posted..Locorotondo- Italy Wishes You Were

    • Sabrina says:

      Thanks Suzy! Wow, your trip is going to be long. Hope you’ll see interesting sights on the way and have fun!

  • Laurel says:

    Some of these photos remind me of driving through parts of Canada. I always hate the really long open stretches, time seems to almost stand still when you’re driving.
    Laurel recently posted..Surfing in Munich

    • Sabrina says:

      I would have never thought that there are many similarities between Texas and Canada 🙂 I’m with you though… I’m usually fine for the first few hours and then I get bored. The worst is driving by myself for more than 3-4 hours. Just too boring!!

  • Love the photos (especially the top photos of the road) and commentary. I’ve driven through Texas and there’s something about those wide open spaces and slices of Texas life along the way.
    Cathy Sweeney recently posted..Tucking in Napa

    • Sabrina says:

      Thank you!! These long stretches are what stood out to me most from the beginning on, because you just don’t see that amount of space in Germany without houses, people, or something else. I’ve almost gotten used to it by now 🙂 But with our visitors over the past week, I was reminded of all the things that used to stand out to me as different.

  • Ana says:

    I have not seen a single pump jack yet, would you believe it! Or cotton fields. Windmills yes, but further south, towards Houston, not around Dallas. Or stretches of desert! north and east Texas are very green 🙂

    I noticed that small towns are fiercely proud of their high school football team. Kind of like Friday Night Lights or whatever that TV series was called.

    “you don’t see another car for half an hour” nope, doesn’t happen here 🙂 Do you think North Texas 9with the Dallas Metroplex) is more densely populated?
    Ana recently posted..How film and literature influenced my travels

    • Sabrina says:

      Yeah, the Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex is a whole different kind of landscape 🙂 Not comparable. No pumpjacks? I think you need to take a road trip 🙂 I’m about to post a whole bunch of things we did with our family when they were visiting us here in West Texas. Maybe there some ideas for you guys in there too?!

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