Day 32, November 11, 1997: Brownsville to Aransas Pass, TX

Today started out damp and boring. It finished up wet and boring. My hopes that getting along the Gulf would bring about some sort of magical transformation in the scenery proved to be overly optimistic. There actually isn't all that much difference - add a bit of water or marsh to the flat scrubby landscape and you have it.

On the way out of Brownsville I took a look at the shrimp boat harbor area. They claim to be the biggest shrimp producer in the country down there. It seems that there is a bit of confusion since at least two other areas make the same claim, including the area where I'm staying tonight. By the way, this has the makings of a very nice vacation spot in the proper season. Five miles away is a barrier island, reachable by free ferries, that has good beaches and other entertaining options.

Speaking of barrier islands, I took the ride out to South Padre Island first thing this morning. All I can say is that these people have to be either very brave or very crazy. I just couldn't imagine building on a stretch of land where the mean elevation above sea level (calm seas) is only a few feet. But they have gone ahead and built huge condos and hotels anyway. Anybody want to volunteer to housesit when the next hurricane is headed that way?

There is a place calling itself the Texas Aviation Museum operating in a small swampy town just north of Brownsville. I took my chances and paid my $4.00 for a look. Advice: unless you are the most hardcore aviation buff in the world, save your money if you ever come through these parts. Go to the Air Force Museum in Ohio or to the Smithsonian instead. You'll be glad you did.

On the way through Corpus Christi, I came across the U.S.S. Lexington which is on static display there. That automatically became the picture of the day, this being Veterans Day and all. The picture isn't very good but it was starting to rain pretty hard by the time I got out of the car and I couldn't be too choosy about angles and all. The lighting was horribly flat anyway so even the best angle probably couldn't have salvaged the picture.

One of the more exciting events today (this will tell you what kind of day it was) was buying the cheapest gasoline I've seen in years. Can you believe 98.9 cents a gallon? I sure didn't but it was for real.

If this rain continues tomorrow I'll have to make a decision to either get onto an interstate highway and make tracks or stick to my predetermined edge route. Some of the roads I've been hitting are really the pits (pun intended). Some today were actually worse than some of the worst on the Alaska highway. For an obscure reason the local road builders haven't figured out that, if you put an inch of asphalt over a loose sand base, the resulting road has a life span measured in the hours. I narrowly missed some real suspension-wrecking potholes today on those back roads. One way or another the 13,000 mile solo journey around the edges of the USA continues.

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