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Old 11-17-2009, 01:57 PM   #1
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Departing Corpus Christi for western Texas

CrawfordGene's 2009 travelogue inspired this.


Republic of Texas
File:Wpdms republic of texas.svg - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Gene will note his Colorado home is part of original Texas; the map isn't quite east/west correct.)

I've borrowed from Wikipedia and TSHA below:

Were one to come up the Rio Grande River at Eagle Pass from Corpus Christi (via Bluntzer & Orange Grove & Cotulla) the route would have traced the Nueces River from delta to headwaters (admittedly, a backroad all the way; FM 624, but a good one for that); what the Mexicans argued in the 1840's should have been the border.

Cotulla

Cotulla was where a young, college-educated Lyndon Johnson taught school, changing his own outlook and making lives better before he left:

Virtual Classroom

If anyone you know has received Federal aid for college, this wide spot on the road deserves your reflection. (I make my pilgrimage stop at the Dairy Queen [a Texas small town institution]).

Eagle Pass

The United States Army established the presumably permanent Fort Duncan on March 27, 1849, a couple of miles upstream from [Camp] Eagle Pass. The building of the fort was supervised by Captain Sidney Burbank. It was named for Colonel James Duncan, a hero of the Mexican War. After the war, trade flourished under the protection of the fort. The fort was near the trail of westward immigration to California. It also served as an outpost against hostile Apache. It was abandoned and reopened several times. In March 1860, it served as the base of operations against the border assaults arranged by Juan N. Cortina.

Fort Duncan was held by the Confederacy during the American Civil War. On July 4, 1865, General Joseph O. Shelby, en route to offer his troops' service to Maximilian in Mexico, stopped at Fort Duncan and buried in the Rio Grande the last Confederate flag to have flown over his men. (Appomattox was months earlier; Texas was a long, long way from Virginia; see "Juneteenth").

Eagle Pass has a recommended restaurant:

Parilla De San Miguel
408 So. Texas Drive, Eagle Pass, TX
830-757-3100

Del Rio

In the mid-1950s, the Strategic Air Command (SAC) noted Laughlin's remoteness that allowed for secret operations, and opened its strategic reconnaissance program there with the RB-57, a bomber modified for high altitude reconnaissance. SAC soon transitioned to the high altitude U-2 Dragonlady and based all of them in Laughlin AFB. In 1962, it was Laughlin-based U-2s that took the first photographs of land-based nuclear missile sites being constructed in Cuba. This was the photo intelligence that started the Cuban Missile Crisis. It is today the largest Air Force flight training center.

The US-Mexican border is the traditional home of the US Army, from the 1840's to the 1940's. It is again becoming so (see: Fort Bliss, El Paso) thankfully, as Mexico has again made the descent into moral insanity.

The border -- the Rio Grande River -- is another world from El Paso down to Laredo and beyond; Texas' 1,250-mile border with Mexico is remote from the 20th century except for paved roads and the occasional detritus of the oil/gas industry. Giant landholdings. A world of grasses and short trees & shrubs at Del Rio and south. All prickly, as are the natural denizens. The original cattle kingdom. From here and southwards is the world written by Larry McMurtry in Lonesome Dove (and relying much on the character and some incidents in the life of Charles Goodnight).

Del Rio has a reliable Mexican restaurant:

Don Marcellino #1
1110 Veterans Blvd (Hwy 90/277)
Del Rio, TX 78840
(830) 775-6242

The following two movies are set, roughly, in this area (Del Rio and Ciudad Acuna and south towards Laredo), and are excellent:

Lone Star (1996)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lone_Star_(1996_film)

El Mariachi (1992)
El Mariachi - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia




Broke Mill RV Park
6069 West Us Hwy 90
Del Rio, Texas 78840
Phone: 830-422-2961
RV Park Del Rio Texas, Local Attractions, Lake Amistad, Broke Mill RV Park, RV Campground, RV Spaces, RV Storage, Free Wireless Internet

Using the above-listed route, Google indicates 283*mi – about 7 hours 47 mins.

I would allow more time pulling a trailer.

This is a route where what you can't see is often key. You'll note miles and miles between fence gates. Etc. Reading is recommended in Texas History (a high school graduation requirement).


The Texas Rangers: A Century of Frontier Defense Walter Prescott Webb, 1935, University of Texas Press

The El Paso Salt War of 1877 C. L. Sonnichsen, 1961, Carl Hertzog and the Texas Western Press

The King Ranch. - Tom Lea, with Richard King, 1957 - Boston: Little, Brown and Company.

Thomas C. Lea, III - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Paul Horgan, Great River: the Rio Grande in North American History, 1954

Won both the Pulitzer and Bancroft

"Transcends regional history and soars far above the river valley with which it deals . . . a survey, rich in color and fascinating in pictorial detail, of four civilizations: the aboriginal Indian, the Spanish, the Mexican, and the Anglo-American . . . It is, in the best sense of the word, literature. It has architectural plan, scholarly accuracy, stylistic distinction, and not infrequently real nobility of spirit" (Allan Nevins )


1941: Dobie, J. Frank (author). - The Longhorns. - Boston: Little, Brown and Company

Oscar Martinez, Troublesome Border
Troublesome Border, Revised Edition, Oscar J. Martnez, Book - Barnes & Noble

Down by the River: Drugs, Money, Murder, and Family
Charles Bowden, 2002
(this story "appears" familiar. But the depth of detail -- and the authors struggles -- make it a must read).

(Only Horgan and Bowden "need" be read).

One must use the same imagination that sees a flourishing future where others saw The Great American Desert.

This is country that is off the map for Americans. But not for Texans.



Larry McMurtry
Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen
Salon Reviews | "Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen" by Larry McMurtry

1985 - Lonesome Dove, 1986 Pulitzer Prize winner. The book is, as always, superior to the movie. But, the voices in the movie translate well to "hearing" the printed page.

2000 - Roads: Driving America's Great Highways
http://www.nytimes.com/books/00/07/1....16footet.html

(He also owns the largest used bookstore in North America in tiny Archer City, TX)


West from here is the beauty of the Davis Mountains and Big Bend National Park. North, on US 83, is the loneliest highway in North America. Climate change, the disappearance of Arctic ice and trade across the North Pole with Asia will change it all in a new north-south trade route.

From Lazaro Cardenas, Mexico, to Churchill, on Baffin Bay (a port bought by a Texan):

http://www.greatdreams.com/political...hway_facts.htm

More to it all than meets the eye . . . .
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Old 11-17-2009, 03:00 PM   #2
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I think I need a PHD to read into what "it" is that "it" is your post about....
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Old 11-17-2009, 03:09 PM   #3
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A lot of reading I'll never get to, but we have talked about a border trip some day—Big Bend NP sort of started the talking and some towns west and north of there, but southern Arizona and NM would be good too.

I'm trying to remember the Texas claims to part of Colorado, claims given up to get into the US. They were, if I recall correctly, a narrow strip just west of the La. purchase boundary and might get into the central Rockies, but we are west of there. Anyway, we've cleaned it up since and it wouldn't be recognized. Texans like to come to certain towns in NM (Red River, for ex.) and to ski in Colorado or to Lake City. We watch them carefully to see if they are trying to colonize as we are outnumbered.

Our time in Texas was actually a scouting trip to prepare in case there's an invasion.

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Old 11-17-2009, 06:53 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vinstream View Post
I think I need a PHD to read into what "it" is that "it" is your post about....
It's a lot better drive than the Interstate to any point going west of Junction, Texas.

Yes, I might have better introduced it. Just sort of grew. The physical aspects of the trip -- what one "sees" outside the window is not impressive as are so many "recommended" journeys -- so imagination, informed, is one departure. I don't know enough natural history to matter, but I can say that the shifts in soil type, vegetation, birds, etc, is there. But low key.

W.P. Webb's, The Great Plains, posits that the 98th parallel is the boundary of eastern and western America. One need only look to a map of the US at night-time to see the enormous fall-off in illuminated areas

USA-LIGHTS

Interstate 35 roughly corresponds to the end of plentiful rain, and one can see it in this map. BUT, try to make correspondence with South Texas. It doesn't appear to exist.

Horgan's book on the Rio Grande has implications for any border state, water issue, population movement, US-Mexico relations. New Mexico, Colorado, etc, are/were all affected by this trade route. Some speculate that it was the major route to the interior of the western US since time (human time) immemorial; then into the Rockies and north to Canada & Alaska from the Central Valley of Mexico.

This route will again grow, is in fact, in the middle of "the foreseeable future". East & West coast America will decline relatively, however significantly.

It is remote, it is different, and it is off-the-mental/cultural map. Most of the river is, in fact. Makes even this short section -- and it's approaches -- quite interesting. That remoteness is a thing attractive. It may not have the sheer grandeur of emptiness as SE Utah, but for places men actually live, it is quite close. Ranches out there are measured in square miles.

Really remote Texas is not Big Bend. It is the River south of Laredo all the way to the Valley. Try and pick out that route via Google!

Had Mexico won the War, Corpus Christi and Del Rio would be the border towns. Why that is so is an interesting question of geography. Not at all random.

This is an imaginary southern border, if you will.
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Old 11-17-2009, 07:11 PM   #5
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I'm trying to remember the Texas claims to part of Colorado, claims given up to get into the US. They were, if I recall correctly, a narrow strip just west of the La. purchase boundary and might get into the central Rockies, but we are west of there.

The "map" I am referencing is mental, and it would be from the Front Range peaks westward.

As to the amount of reading, well, first, not all of it is direct. Only Horgan and Bowden. The others can be indirect.

The Texas frontier was the significant one in westward expansion pre and post Civil War. Not until the Comanches were subdued were the easier tasks of Cheyenne and Sioux made. One would not understand this at all from the amount of "Hollywood" afforded the latter two. El Paso was the true "Wild West", not the Earps, not Dodge City, not Miles, Montana. They were flash in the pan by comparison.

Some of us "trip plan" years in advance.
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Old 11-17-2009, 07:39 PM   #6
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My wife loves Texas... though I hear they are pretty hard on city manager's down there. (Get a rope!) My oldest daughter loves Colorado. After my wife and I enjoy a slice of early retirement, I'll count on my pals Gene and RedNax to suggest habitable places out west... providing, of course, Montana has no jobs at all.
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Old 11-17-2009, 08:19 PM   #7
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Another route south from Alaska and Canada may have been through the intermountain west—between the Rockies and Sierra Nevada. The Navajo probably came to their present home 600-800 years ago and may have split off from the Dine in Yukon, northeastern Alaska and NWT. The Navajo call themselves Dine as well. They both speak an Athabaskan language and share many words. The Apache—who live east of the Navajo and south of them—also are Athabaskan speakers.

You can get a idea of pre-Columbian immigration from which language groups tribes are part of and how they have dispersed. Another language group is Ute-Azteca. The Ute (usually pronounced Yout, but probably should sound more like Utah, no coincidence) live in SW Colorado and across the border in Utah. Sometime, perhaps around 1200-1300, the Aztecs (whose language is Nahautl, still spoken by many in Mexico) migrated south to the Valley of Anahuac (Mexico City today) from somewhere north. Perhaps they split off from the Utes, but we know there was a major drought in the SW around 1300. That drought largely depopulated the Four Corners region as the Anasazi moved east to the Rio Grande Valley of NM and became known to the Spanish as the Pueblo Indians. They speak Tewa, but I don't know what language group that belongs to.

It seems eastern Colorado was battleground between various tribes—Comanche, Arapahoe, Cheyenne. Meanwhile as the railroad moved west through Kansas the cattle drives from Texas moved with it further and further west. The Goodnight-Loving trail is well known, but there were many north/south trails, each further west. Dodge City was a railroad terminus for a short time and its history as a wild town was just as short, though Hollywood has surely distorted that. Most wild western towns were wild for about 2 years and then the schoolmarm and wives arrived along with government agents and the army and things calmed down.

You're right Rednax, Texas history is pretty much ignored, or was when I was in grad school in the '60's. There have long been more universities in the NE and Midwest filled with professors needing to write books and they choose what they know—and that's western history as a northern experience.

People generally move west along the same latitude. I have done so, generally about 100 miles from US 6 and the 45th parallel. Colorado, like Missouri of the Mo. Compromise, and Kansas, of Bleeding Kansas, has been influenced by northern and southern culture. The common perception is of the frontier moving steadily west (it actually leapfrogged to the Pacific coast and then infilled from between the Front Range and Sierra Nevada). But after the Civil War blacks moved west in significant (and rather ignored numbers), many moving northward at the same time. Confederates moved to mining camps, just like others from the NE and Midwest, and cultures mixed that way.

I don't know much of Texas history. The area along the border surely has many interesting stories—most borders do. One of the things I saw on our trip in the past 10 days or so was how many large cities Texas now has. Generally we go through Texas on our way to somewhere else and avoid cities. Texas has grown tremendously in the past generation and I suppose Houston, San Antonio and maybe Dallas are among the nation's largest 10 cities. Even Lubbock has more than 200,000.

Enough history. I wish I had time to read every history book ever written. It's time to go out to dinner.

Gene
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Old 11-18-2009, 04:45 AM   #8
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Most wild western towns were wild for about 2 years and then the schoolmarm and wives arrived along with government agents and the army and things calmed down.

El Paso was running wide-open throttle for decades. Plans for revolution and then revolution itself were across the street (river); and distance from politicians whether at Austin or Washington had (and has) the (usual) effect of allowing events to take their course to often sordid ends. The Rio Grande is a frontier too far even in imagination today. Nothing easy, and much if not most in the shadows. The Third World bordering on the First. Nothing else like it on the planet.

One seems, in departing Corpus Christi, to just be driving across what is locally called the South Texas Brush Country. Arid, featureless. South of the Nueces, all the way to the Valley was once called the Wild Horse Desert. Just a place to get across.

and I suppose Houston, San Antonio and maybe Dallas are among the nation's largest 10 cities.

Dallas/Ft.Worth and Houston metro are each of them areas of above 6-million residents. Austin/San Antonio (growing steadily together) comprise another several million. The twenty-some odd millions of
Texans all live east of line itself 50-miles west of Interstate 35. All of it familiar to the American traveler for cultural reasons.

Not so further south or west from S.A. along US-90. The context "appears" familiar, the history and the problems say otherwise.

The future appears poised, again, to present problems anticipated (and ignored unless I miss my guess) and unanticipated. Things don't stay tamped down on the border for more than a few decades.

What the future holds for where the U.S. ends -- south of US 90, west of Interstate 37 -- and Texas continues for another hundred or several hundred mile past the "proposed" border of the 1840's remains to be seen.

Anyone who has read this far may wonder, "why imagination"? It is only that which has kept Mexico's latest war from spilling over (the death toll is above 14,000 at present). "El Chapo" Guzman is rated one of the most powerful people on the planet. The border is seen by the District Federal as being an American problem. Gaza on the Grande.
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Old 11-18-2009, 05:19 AM   #9
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Another route south from Alaska and Canada may have been through the intermountain west—between the Rockies and Sierra Nevada.

One can easily draw a line from Texas gas fields to Wyoming coal to Canadian tar sands (and, again, south to Lazaro Cardenas). It won't be just trade of finished goods with Asia that opens new road and rail and pipe lines. New high ways.

Population pressures, and climate change, forecast an alteration of old maps.
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Old 11-18-2009, 08:50 AM   #10
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This has been a heavy dose of history, geography, and philosophy, especially for early morning, but it's been very enjoyable. Rednax, I haven't been to any of the restaurants you mention, but if may, I'd like to add a culinary suggestion. Some of the best fried pies in the world can be found at Shirley's Burnt Biscuit in Marathon, which is on US 90, north of Big Bend National Park. I think they serve a few other things too, but lovers of fried pies will not notice those. Shirley herself sold the business a few years ago, but the new owner is still cranking them out according to Shirley's recipes, and by all reports, they are still excellent. People who have grown up eating fried pies will only need to look at the attached photo of Shirley and a couple of her customers to satisfy themselves as to the place's accreditation.
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Old 11-23-2009, 05:51 PM   #11
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There's another fried pie joint just across the Red River in Oklahoma from the Dallas area (from which we moved). Thanks for the recommendation. Far West Texas nowadays has food worth driving for! (Well, you ALWAYS had to drive. And drive. And drive. And the many places "out there" are sure a relief from C-stores and Dairy Queen. I like 'em both, but . . . . )
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Old 01-27-2010, 06:11 PM   #12
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Forgot to add in original post that by no means is history past as you drive the border. May seem "obvious" but the national media ignores it too much. Don't take any of it amiss. A national border has a life of it's own. This one has gotten plenty lively.


Mexico's President Calderon: "There is trafficking in Mexico because there is corruption in Mexico...But by the same argument if there is trafficking in the United States it is because there is some corruption in the United States... It is impossible to pass tonnes of cocaine to the United States without the complicity of some American authorities."


City Journal


-------------------------------------------------------------------------


"Our mission is to terminate the life of a criminal every 24 hours ... The hour has come to stop this disorder in Jurez."

From the press release of the Juarez Citizens Council's (CCJ), a "citizen's militia" formed to counter narco-guerrillas. They are even setting up an e-mail/text line for tips from citizens on who they should target.

Have ‘Los Pepes’ touched down in Mexico? (SWJ Blog)


--------------------------------------------------------------------------


Mexico's drug cartels siphon liquid gold

Bold theft of $1 billion in oil, resold in U.S., has dealt a major blow to the treasury.

Seventeen of Mexicos 31 states are narco-republics.

"The Zetas are a parallel government," said Eduardo Mendoza Arellano, a federal lawmaker who heads a national committee on energy. "They practically own vast stretches of the pipelines, from the highway to the very door of the oil companies." The Zetas earn millions of dollars by "taxing" the oil pipelines -- organizing the theft themselves or taking a cut from anyone who does the stealing, according to Mexican authorities. To steal the oil, Mexican authorities said, thieves sometimes use safe houses from where they build extensive tunnel networks leading to the pipelines. They fabricate powerful drills that enable them to puncture the highly pressurized steel pipes and extract the oil without causing spills or suspicious drops in pressure.


Widespread oil theft by drug traffickers deals major blow to Mexico's government

-------------------------------------------------------------------------


THE FALL OF MEXICO?

. . border towns in Mexico have turned into halls of mirrors where no one knows who is on which side or what chance remark could get you murdered. Some 14,000 people have been killed, the worst carnage since the Mexican Revolution of 1910. . . . . the prospect of a failed state on our southern border begins to seem all too real.

The U.S. government estimates that the cultivation and trafficking of illegal drugs directly employs 450,000 people in Mexico. Unknown numbers of people, possibly in the millions, are indirectly linked to the drug industry, which has revenues estimated to be as high as $25 billion a year, exceeded only by Mexicos annual income from manufacturing and oil exports.

The Fall of Mexico - The Atlantic (December 2009)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

The Insidious Rise of the Gulf Cartel

Interviews, files and court records trace a syndicate's growth from small-time pot smuggling to a mega-empire with a hub in Houston

The Mexican cartels are the most significant organized crime threat to the Western Hemisphere, without question, said Texas Department of Public Safety director Steve McCraw, who was raised on the border.


Houston sees insidious rise of Gulf Cartel | Houston & Texas News | Chron.com - Houston Chronicle


--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Reading about the Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts is more relaxing. But the amazing number of ICE stations with huge, brand-new vehicle fleets is no mirage. Nor is the re-vitalization of Fort Bliss, just north of El Paso.

It's a great drive from California to Texas, on the roads where you can easily travel the border.

-

-
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Old 01-27-2010, 07:53 PM   #13
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It is kind of interesting that Texas claimed a good chunk of New Mexico for a nine-year period -- a full 226 years after Santa Fe was declared the capital of New Mexico. Makes you wonder about the historicity of those involved in the establishment of the Republic of Texas.

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Old 01-27-2010, 08:12 PM   #14
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I love south Tx, obviously I love the beach at Corpus, but the the drive over to Del Rio and Big Bend is nice. Roy Beans place is fun too. Good Stuff.
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