Tag Archives: Texas

Saturday in El Paso, Texas

As of this writing, it’s been 48 hours since a 21 year old kid drove 9 or so hours from the northern part of my state to my city to kill people like me.  Hispanic people whether or not they were born here in the United States (like me) or whether or not they crossed over from our sister city, Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico… either way this maniac wanted us dead.

It was a normal Saturday morning for me.  I was trying to enjoy my one day a week that I don’t wake up to an alarm and get my day started.  The plan for the day was to get up to make breakfast, clean the kitchen up, get a list of things to buy across the street from me at Target for my trip to the DFW area this coming weekend, go to the gym, hit up said Target, then get back home to shower and catch up with Netflix and Hulu as much as I could.

In the middle of cleaning the kitchen up and watching something that I already forget that I had on just as background noise, one of my bandmates started up our group chat on Facebook messenger saying “Hey stay away from the Cielo Vista area…there is an active shooter at the Walmart”.  It was about 11:15ish or so.  Yeah, I was getting the day started a bit later than I wanted to, but my initial reaction was something along the lines of “damn.  Maybe some person just either specifically shot at somebody else or they accidentally fired a gun or something.” Not what was actually going down.  Shortly after his message, however, more information started flooding in.  I turned my cable box on (yeah, I still have cable.  The apartment complex provides it for us, so I use it for some channels) and switched it to the local news stations.  KTSM was first.  Nothing.  Just a message scrolling along the bottom of the screen saying that the message my friend had sent and that they had a crew heading that way.  KVIA had nothing yet.  KFOX and KDBC had nothing either.  So more reason not to kinda worry.  And I say kinda worry because to put things in perspective, the Walmart where this went down is THREE MILES from where I live.

To be honest, I never go to that particular Walmart because it’s just too damn crazy all the time and it’s an older model store that doesn’t have the same layout as the newest versions of their stores are.  As I’ve said a few times here, my introversion drives me away from really crowded places like that, as it’s always an adventure just trying to find a parking spot there, much less to get through their isles to try to find the things I need to get.  I go to one that is 2 miles further away from me, but is newer and has a little bit more breathing room for me to navigate through.  It’s still chaotic, mind you, but I’m used to that chaos.  Same goes for the location by my dad’s house that I’ll go to sometimes.  Oddly enough, I actually DID go to the Walmart by my dad’s house on Friday night because I filled my gas tank up at one of the stations in his neighborhood because the prices are routinely 10-25 cents cheaper than ones near me.  Those cents add up considering I’m filling a 32 gallon capacity tank.  Anyway, after thanking God for making it to the gas station, as I was running on fumes, I drove the 3 minutes up to the Walmart, got critical groceries (since I just got paid that day and kinda live check to check most of the time), then drove back home to put the stuff up, then hit up the gym.

Back to the point and back to Saturday morning 11:30ish AM…

The group text goes on saying that it was on Fox News.  I tuned the TV to that and it was on commercial, so I switched it to MSNBC and that’s where I saw the headline on the bottom about it being a mass shooting and dozens were hurt and dead.  WHOA.  Word starts to get out even more and I started getting messages that there were multiple shooters and were going to target multiple locations.  El Paso was going to be a warzone starting NOW.  Next place in line was Bassett Place.  Bassett Place is a mall with two large anchor tenants on either side of the mall.  Costco is on one end and Target is on the other.  As I mentioned a few paragraphs ago, Bassett Place is essentially across the street from where I live.  Stupid me, not really thinking about it then, or whatever… I don’t know… go outside to throw an empty gallon of distilled water container in the dumpster about 25 feet from my door.  I can see the main street, Montana, from there (sorta) and I saw flashing emergency vehicle lights and heard their sirens.  They were probably going to Bassett.  Again, at this point, the fear or whatever didn’t kick in.  I don’t even know why not.  So strange right?  Best thing I can think of putting into words of what I was thinking at the time was “Heh.  Nah, man.  Nothing’s happening at Bassett right now.  Units are probably rushing up from the firehouse and stuff on Chelsea or something going to Cielo Vista.” And I walked back inside.  I got a group text from my dad including my sister about this point too, making sure we were ok.  That’s when another moment of heart dropping came into play.  For two reasons.  First of all, there could have been a very slight chance my sister could have been there.  She’s closer to the one I go to as well, but you never know.  She could have possibly gone there as I remember she has said she has before.  Secondly, what could my dad have been thinking?  He knows both of us are early risers and that we shop for groceries on Saturdays sometimes.  I can’t even imagine the terror he felt wondering if one or both of his children were dead, or if one or both of his grandchildren were dead.  I reply right away that I was home cleaning up the kitchen and my sister replied a few minutes after saying that they were safe.  WHEW!!!   Shortly after that, I get this message on my phone:

Active

Shit got REAL then.  “ALL El Paso City/County residents are asked to shelter”?  My dumb ass was just outside throwing away something that could have waited and I put myself in harm’s way.  I saw the damn emergency vehicles!  I’m right next to another potential place of harm where bad people could run toward to try and escape, and there I was… walking out there.  HELL NO.  I tuned it to the local NBC affiliate, KTSM, who by then started to broadcast.  Multiple reports started coming out, messages were flying from friends.  Horizon City was next; Bassett was next, this was a coordinated attack by a large group of people.  I was in the line of fire.  Even if it was just one person, that one person was 3 miles away from me and could very well be heading my way. I was just frozen, I guess.  I didn’t think about this until later on in the night, but if for some reason somebody was going to spray bullets at my apartment unit… there was little in between the wall and me.  Just my new 4K UHD TV that wouldn’t stop a bullet and that was about it.  Even if I were to somehow fly over my couch, that’s just wood, suede, and foam.  Still not enough to stop bullets.  People started messaging me or commenting on my Facebook posts to stay inside and don’t leave my house.  HELL NO!  DON’T HAVE TO TELL ME TWICE!  I’M STAYING IN!  I started checking the police department twitter feed as that’s where the information was coming through and I see this:

Tweet

Holy smokes.  Multiple reports of multiple shooters?  THEY are confirming it!  So, I blast out the screenshot of the emergency text telling people to not open up their doors if anybody knocks unless it’s the cops.  At this point, I think my nerves are starting to kick in.  I was flipping channels between KTSM, MSNBC, CNN, and Fox News trying to find the latest news and all they were saying and showing at that point were people coming out of Cielo Vista Mall but nothing about Walmart.  Then word came out that the shooter had been apprehended.  EPPD was still securing the situation and verifying if there were any more shooters.  At the time, they believed there was only one, but still be vigilant, they said.  Okay.  So, by 2 or so, it was confirmed to be all over.  The wild reports of possible things in different places were dying down.  KTSM had a screenshot of the killer at the front entrance, gun on him, ear and eye protection on probably about to shoot people as seen from the security camera.  Same description as what an eye witness said she saw of a man shooting at people in cars walking along the road.  Same description of a man, El Paso Police took into custody without incident on Viscount and Sunmount streets.  It was really over, but that was just the beginning for me.  I was glued to the TV.  I didn’t want to even go outside.  What for?  I was on social media scrolling my timeline on twitter catching updates from the local reporters I follow, checking the EPPD twitter feed that I follow too, but wasn’t getting messages on for some reason, checking Facebook and doing something I thought I’d never have to do… mark myself safe so that everybody could see I was still alive.  Businesses started posting that they were closing for the day out of respect of the situation and out of the safety of their employees.  Honestly, I didn’t even want to be out anyway.  Then again, when do i?  But even more so then.  Friends started sharing their stories and the focus of the day shifted to starting to repair our lives.  It wasn’t without incident for me, though.  My nerves were shot and I was on edge.  Sometime around 4 or so I heard a snap outside my door like the snapping of a piece of paper or one of those snap firecracker things and I immediately jolted.  I was still traumatized.  I stayed glued to the TV until about 9:30 or so when I took a shower, turned the TV off, and went to my room to pray and try to get some sleep.

I was worried about what Sunday morning would bring.  I was going to fulfill my Sunday Obligation and go to Low Mass at my FSSP apostolate downtown like do every Sunday, which is heading away from the massacre, but all the while I was wondering who was going to be there.  Were the pews going to be overfilling with people coming to seek comfort and/or get back to God?  Or were people going to stay away in fear?  It was pretty much a normal Sunday.  I saw the usual congregation that attends the 8am Low Mass.  Father O’Neil started off his homily with us all reciting an Our Father and 3 Hail Mary’s then intertwined his already prepared sermon with the tragedy that unfolded Saturday morning.  I still needed to get those things for my road trip to Dallas this Friday and maybe something to make for dinner, but I didn’t want to go to a store.  It just didn’t feel right yet, respectful yet, to carry on less than 24 hours after probably the worst day in El Paso’s history like nothing happened.  I talked to a few friends, and one like me, was too afraid to go out.  Just sad and depressed.  All of the people I talked to were.  I offered to go pick my friend up that needed groceries, but she declined as she was going to go to her parents’ house and swim with her daughter and her daughter’s friends.  I had made up my mind to not go out either unless it was to help a friend, so I just stayed inside.  I didn’t know how to feel at that moment.

Coming to work today was the same thing.  Just the unknown to deal with.  We had a town hall to start the day where management told us that it was ok to feel however it is that we feel.  Some cried, some felt anger, some just felt sad.  I’m in the sad camp, but I’m writing this out now because writing is how I rid myself of negative thoughts.

So, El Paso will start to pick up the pieces.  This kid drove 9 hours to our community to try and break our spirit and our love, but he didn’t and could never.  We’re probably closer now than ever before.  This picture below here may depict how we feel.  Amigo Man (the official El Paso mascot), Chico (the El Paso Chihuahuas our AAA Baseball Team mascot), and Paydirt Pete (UTEP’s Mascot) are all crying, consoling each other, but we’ll all pull through better on the other side.  Hug your friends and family whenever you can.  Tell the people that you love that you love them, each chance you get, because something like this can happen to you.

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I’m Going Through Changes…

Greetings y’all!  What an incredible journey I’ve been having since the last weekend of 2018!  I will tell y’all that my life has been almost completely turned around to a new normal.  I can’t deny it, either.  It feels great.  It’s even odd enough to say that, but it does.  I think my brother (from another mother) who lives in Salt Lake City told me the best way about it too; “Well, dude, you were due for a change.  I don’t wanna sound like a dick about it, but your life had gotten pretty stagnant.  I’m happy for you, dude!”  Hmmm… maybe he’s right!  I mean, I have traveled more in the past 3 months than I have in the past 5 years, and east of all things!  I mean, before about 3 or 4 years ago I had never really been anywhere else here in Texas for any more than a quick stop or some specific thing to do.  I went to Houston 10 years ago for WWE’s WrestleMania 25 for a weekend, but we didn’t venture out much aside from going to the area where the event was being held.  I also went to the DFW area a few years ago to visit one of my band members for a weekend, then again to his new place in Bryan but it was more for a working/band trip, so I didn’t really see much then either.  Well, this year, already, I’ve gone to Houston and explored parts of that wonderful city again, and I got to drive through San Antonio for the first time in 20 years!  Just this past weekend, I was back in Bryan/College Station where I got to see a bit more of the town.  I’ve also gotten to know Interstate 10 from the state line in my hometown of Anthony, Texas all the way through to Houston, Texas.  Before this year, I hadn’t even driven it past the exit to highway 280 right after Junction, Texas that takes you into Fredericksburg, Johnson City, and Austin.  My two trips (and one more scheduled coming up in two weeks) have been really eye opening to me.  I’m wondering why it is that I didn’t want to head east before.  I mean, I can tell you why really.  It’s because my favorite Major League Baseball team is the Arizona Diamondbacks (who are based in Phoenix, Arizona), and the place I visit at least annually is Las Vegas, Nevada.  Both of those places are west of me and I’ve always felt comfortable in my familiar desert climate.  Say what you will about things, but nothing beats the sunsets here in the desert southwest.  The way things are heading, I might be heading east permanently, so I gotta take in as many of these sunsets as I can while I can still remember to!

Along with my travel and my new found appreciation for what lies east of El Paso, I’ve also fully embraced my new lifestyle change.  I have kept losing pounds each passing week and I’m ramping up my confidence that I can continue to get to my goal weight, which I should hit sometime in November.  I’m really looking forward to that AND looking forward to seeing a better version of me in the mirror!  I’ve even started to eat way healthier than I was previously, and I am getting compliments at least weekly from my coworkers about how great of a job I’m doing.  It feels awesome to know that finally, for once, things are heading in the direction they should be when it comes to my health.  Speaking of my health, on Tuesday, I’m finally going to have a sleep study done to hopefully help fix my problem with sleep apnea and snoring.  Hardly anybody understands, but I am super excited about this too.  The more changes, the better I say!

Have a great weekend y’all!  Stay safe out there in this wild planet of ours!

Entertainment to Spark the Mind

Hello y’all!  I’m back with another posting.  I rarely do these types of posts, but I feel that I cannot help myself in this case.  I don’t know how many of you saw the Super bowl over the weekend, but I did and I happened to notice the commercial for season 3 of the Hulu original, The Handmaid’s Tale.  Now, I’ve been deeply involved again in my personal Star Trek journey as I’m trying to watch the entire series (from The Original Series all the way to Star Trek Beyond) chronologically and that’s really been all I’ve been watching on TV, but seeing that commercial reignited by interest in that show.  I remember seeing trailers for it at the movie theater and various TV programs in the past about season 1 and I wanted to see it then, but it wasn’t until after the Super bowl that I finally started watching it.  If you haven’t seen it, be prepared for an INSANE ride.

The synopsis as per Google is as follows: “Based on the best-selling novel by Margaret Atwood, this series is set in Gilead, a totalitarian society in what used to be part of the United States. Gilead is ruled by a fundamentalist regime that treats women as property of the state, and is faced with environmental disasters and a plummeting birth rate. In a desperate attempt to repopulate a devastated world, the few remaining fertile women are forced into sexual servitude. One of these women, Offred, is determined to survive the terrifying world she lives in, and find the daughter that was taken from her.” HOLY SMOKES, right?!?!

I won’t go into much detail about it aside from this.  As what’s said in that synopsis, the now former United States of America is now a totalitarian society named Gilead.  In Gilead, women are servants to men in all aspects of life.  There are different classes of women, but none of the women are allowed to read or write.  How insane is that, right?!  The women are also forced into Plain Dress attire, and the men are kinda midway through it themselves, and the most horrible aspects of this all involved the violence in the name of religion.  And violence in all forms as you’d suspect.

Now, for those that haven’t seen the show or read the book (I still have to read the book myself), all this happens over the span of about 5 years or so where rights are taken away and people start getting brutally murdered either by gunfire or hanging.  Throughout the show, I’ve been thinking to myself, “How the HELL did the people who didn’t believe in these crazy people’s beliefs not leave?!”  Well, the way it’s shown from the episodes I’ve seen is that people fought back and tried to maintain their rights as American citizens until it was too late for them to escape and they ended up in a life of slavery due to their non-conformity.  It’s brutal.  Catholics, LGBTQs, unmarried couples, divorced and remarried people, and basically anybody else that does not believe in that particular protestant sect’s beliefs are hunted down and publicly hanged, or shot for their beliefs or lifestyles.  In a particularly hard scene for me to watch during episode 2 of season 1, two of the main characters, handmaids, are walking down a street in Cambridge, Massachusetts (where the show mainly takes place) and see St. Paul Church, a parish church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, being torn down.  One handmaid tells the other that the régime also bulldozed St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan to try to “erase” the fact that it ever existed.  Seeing that happen on the show just broke my heart.  I started to wonder what I would have done in that situation.  Granted, for at least the immediate future, I’ll still be here in El Paso where if something like this happened… wait, well first off, I think Texas as a state would throw up the proverbial middle finger to this protestant sect and go independent republic like we were from 1836-1845.  Granted, the Republic of Texas existed 183-174 years ago, that independent spirit of native Texans still is strong.  Anyway, with that said, again if Texas didn’t become its own republic again and instead became part of Gilead, it would be pretty easy for people here in El Paso to cross the border into Mexico and escape.

The question is, would people who didn’t believe in radical Gilead retreat or fight?  What would I do?  That’s really the question here.  What the hell would I do?  I didn’t give it much thought, I’d flee.  Now, that’s what I’m trying to figure out about how exactly to feel about my decision.  Does that make me a coward?  Does that make me a non-believer in Jesus Christ?  That’s what I’ve been struggling with.  I mean, sure, it’s said in a few scriptures to be willing to die for the faith, but at what cost?  It’s the double edged sword of laying down one’s life for Christ, but at the same time fighting for one’s life.  An argument can be made for both sides, in my opinion.  I have always just had a very strong sense of self preservation, so I’d find a way to escape and then find a way to fight back any way I could to overthrow evil.

With that said, my next question as I’m watching the show is “Why the hell didn’t these people leave in droves to escape either north or south?!”  From what it looks like to me, it went down like this:  First off, protests took place denouncing the beginning of the removal of rights, etc.  all the while, people believed that this protestant group wasn’t going to really take over the United States and as much crap as they were doing, the country would never cease to exist.  Next, and finally, when the United States of America ceased to exist, all the people who didn’t believe it could happen and fought back instead were then trapped and forced into either slavery, or outright murdered.  I could totally see this happening too.  I mean, who in their right mind would think that something like this could happen?  Ask the German people when the Nazi party took over in 1933.  Of course people say now that something like that will never happen again, but history has a tendency to repeat itself, and that thought alone terrifies me.

So, I’m going to keep watching The Handmaid’s Tale, as I’m on episode 7 of season 1 as of this writing, and keep wondering what I’d do in this world.  I love shows like this.  Shows that make me either think about my own life or make me dream about how I hope life will turn out for humanity as a whole is what sparks my interest.

Have y’all seen this show?!  What are your thoughts on the matter?  Do you question your life and the decisions you’d have to make if thrust into this situation?

Blessed be the fruit and praise be!

Witness to (hopefully) Accidental Prejudice

I’m back!!!  A little later than I wanted to be, but that’s because life has had me tightly in its grips as of late.  There’s been a lot on my mind too, actually, but due to the respect that have for other parties involved in why there’s things on my mind, I’m going to try my best to keep those to myself.  I know that part is unhealthy, actually, because writing is my outlet and my main outlet to release those pent up emotions, but I can’t disrespect other people much on here, or anywhere else for that matter, which means that I have to find another outlet when other people in my real life destabilize my emotions.  Anyway, I’m going to try and make a quick observation here on something that affected me last week that I just can’t shake.

So, this thing happened to me last Monday in Boerne, Texas as I was going to prepare for the final 513 mile trek westward back to El Paso, Texas from my trip to Houston, Texas.  In case y’all didn’t know, Texas is a gigantic state.  LOL.  Driving to and from Houston takes 10 hours each way and it’s that short now because a lot of the time, the speed limit is now 80mph and just about 75mph everywhere else.  Before, when the speed limit was 65mph, you could expect a 12 hour drive and all within this one great state.  How crazy is that, right?  Anyway, on my way back from Houston, I had strategically set up my fueling stop in Boerne because according to my calculations ( in which I did not factor extreme wind blowing eastward and thus creating more friction for my truck to move through), I’d have more than enough fuel to drive the entire 7 hour trip on that one tank.  I wasn’t hungry waking up and didn’t get hungry until about 40 minutes into my drive back home, so by the time I hit Boerne (which is on the western edge of the greater San Antonio metroplex) I was starving.  I filled my gas tank up to the maximum amount it would let me and noticed a Whataburger (a Texas staple and tradition) across the freeway.  Of course I had to go.  Not that any one of the 25+ locations in El Paso wouldn’t fill my Whataburger cravings, but why have a more national chain restaurant’s food when Texas’ own would do, right?!  So, I got over there, ordered my food, got my soda, and sat down.  Naturally, I just looked around at everybody just curious as to the crowd that hangs out at that place.  After surveying the crowd a bit, I noticed two very young teenagers, no older than 18 I’d say.  One was wearing a trucker hat with some sort of company name on it and the other had a black trucker hat with these words visible as they were printed in white; “Build Wall” I could only assume that the word “the” was in cursive and another color I couldn’t see very well in between the words “build” and “wall”, but I will tell you that it just hurt me to see that.  Now, I know some of you may have conservative views on things.  Don’t get upset, I do as well on most things, but in this instance and the reason the phrase “build the wall” is now popular, I don’t agree with at all.  It’s actually as offensive as a racial slur/term to me because in all honesty it is.  The people wearing these hats or t-shirts or shouting it out either in real life or on their social media platforms have no idea about how life really is along the border.

In case you didn’t know, El Paso, Texas (where I’ve lived the past 36 or so years) is a border city.  We’re now the 7th safest city in the United States according to Safe Wise.  Until this ranking, we’ve been 1 or 2 for the past 10 or so years.  I will tell you, from living here the majority of my life that it is a very safe city.  All of the drug violence that occurred in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico on the other side of the border only affected us twice from what I can recall.  Once, a bullet hit a building on the campus of The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) as it’s directly across from a very populated area in Juarez, and the second instance involved a stray bullet that struck a woman’s leg somewhere in downtown if I’m not mistaken.  That second one really can’t be attributed directly to the drug violence in Mexico, but the assumption was that the bullet came from over there somewhere.  That’s IT for the violence in the past God knows how many years, by the way.  Now, one could say that those were two incidents too many, but in comparison to what’s being portrayed about violent crimes here, as statistics show, we average 3.9 per 1,000 people.  That’s not really a lot.  Look again at that study as well.  Guess who’s number 6 on that list?  Yup, San Diego, California.  That’s another border city with Mexico.  Their violent crime average is 3.77 per 1,000 people.  So where’s the violence from Mexico?  Where are the rapes, beatings, and murders?  They don’t happen.  What’s the word?  Fake news.  That’s what that is.  Sure, violent crime does happen here, but it’s not because of any illegal citizens.  It’s simply American –v- American crime.  I’ll grant you that there is a language barrier, especially from downtown, into central, the lower valley, and into parts of the eastside of El Paso.  If you don’t at least understand Spanish, it would be best to be with somebody who did because there are a lot of Spanish speaking only people here, but since English is not the legal language here, it’s only frowned upon to not speak it.  I’ll be honest, it bothers me too sometimes, but it is what it is.  It’s not a criminal act.  As far as drugs go, yes, a lot of them go through the ports of entry, but those are the actual legal ports of entry that they get smuggled through.  They don’t go through gaps in the border wall, which I will also tell you that have been up here in the southern New Mexico/west Texas region for a long time already.  Nothing does, actually.  Thousands of people cross daily to and from our two cities/two countries legally via foot and vehicle traffic and we live in relative harmony.

I circle back to these two teenagers who obviously have no frame of reference as to what life is really like along the international border between the United States and Mexico.  That’s what really makes it sad to me.  There’s no reason to erect a barrier when one isn’t needed.  Sure, people do cross illegally into the United States from Mexico, but the vast majority of these people aren’t violent criminals and we’re not talking about thousands at a time all day every day.  If they do decide to try and cross, they are doing it in remote locations in Arizona where honestly they are risking their lives attempting to cross through there due to the harsh conditions and terrain.  It may happen with a larger frequency than some may be comfortable with, but we have Border Patrol agents who routinely go through that area and they do apprehend and deport the individuals they catch.  Same goes for the rest of the border between our two countries.  But a need to advertise slogans like “build the wall” insinuating that people from Latin American countries are ALL criminals and we need to erect some sort of great wall of America is just sad to me.  Hispanics, like myself, aren’t criminals just for being who we are.  Before you go barking out “Build the wall!” or putting it on your next social media post, just stop and think about what exactly you’re talking about.  Do you know the whole story?  Chances are you don’t.

Love and peace, y’all!

Seeing is Believing

Hey y’all!  I hope this blog finds you well.  As for me, things are moving along as per usual.  Ups and downs.  I’m making the gym a habit now and I’m feeling really good about it, so there’s one positive.  There’s a few negatives in there, but let’s not talk about those.  I’d probably get in trouble with some people if I did mention the downs anyway.  Which reminds me of something that I did too.  A few weeks back, I decided to disconnect my twitter auto-post thing from here on WordPress.  Since Facebook stopped allowing 3rd party posts themselves last year at some point, I removed my link from my homepage on there too.  I’ve figured that I’ve got no followers from either one of those social media outlets and I don’t think anybody there cares anyway, so I might as well make this my own little community too.  The links to my posts are still there on my twitter timeline, so if anybody really cares, they can go fishing and find links to posts there.

Anyway, today’s topic that I’ve had in my mind to speak of for the past 2 days or so is road trips!  Here’s a question for y’all… What’s your preferred method of traveling?  Plane, trains, automobiles?  (sorry, too good of a joke to pass up!)  I mean, say what you will about air travel, sure it’s the fastest way to travel as of yet, but there’s no fun it in when you get right down do it, right?  I mean, first off, you’re in a line with other people just to check in your luggage, and depending on your airline, you’re having to pay for that luggage to travel with you too on top of the cost of the ticket itself which is usually crazy expensive, then you have to deal with all of the security just to get to the gate, then you sit down in sometimes cramped quarters just to maybe see a glimpse of civilization happening 30,000 feet below you, but essentially see nothing but the general outline of the planet.  There’s no discovery of things, no exploration, it’s just sanitized bland travel.  For those with pressing needs to be from one place to another at long distances away, air travel is definitely the way to go.  Let me say, however, I’m not a hater of it, but I do love to discover things when I go to new or old places and I can’t really do that when I fly.  With that said, you can imagine what I prefer to do.  YUP!  That’s take road trips to my destinations!  Sure, I can’t always drive over to the places I’ve gone due to time constraints, but whenever possible, I drive.  There’s no phobia or any mental situation I have going on like some people have (look up John Madden and why he had a bus take him to all the NFL games he called), it’s just that I the journey to the destination is filled with so much beauty everywhere I’ve been, that I feel as though if I had done nothing but flown to these destinations, I would have missed so much along the way.

Taking a look at my google timeline, and my own memory before google started tracking where I’ve been; I’ve been in or driven through 20 of the lower 48 United States.  WOW.  Took me a minute to count to make sure, but yes!  20 states!  I’ve seen everything from sand dunes to beautiful forests, to beaches and everything in between and have loved every one of them.  I’ve also visited or at least driven by a number of national parks, forests, and monuments as well that have truly taken my breath away at times.  I even have gotten to the chance to see things along the road that have inspired movies, been in movies, etc.  For example, there is a motel in Holbrook, Arizona by the name of Wigwam Motel that was the inspiration for the traffic cone motel in the Disney/Pixar movie Cars.  Instead of traffic cones, the real things are actually large concrete teepees!  How cool is that!  The even cooler thing is that a lot of the cars that were featured in the film, well their real life counterparts at least, are parked there at the motel too!  I came across the motel 2.5 years ago when I drove my friend from South Australia over to see the Grand Canyon.  We made an incredible drive from El Paso, up through a highway in New Mexico that ran through Gila National Forest and honestly some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever seen, into Arizona and the large national forest area and Grand Canyon National Park.  It was an amazing drive and actually come to think of it, I need to do it again!

That was just one of my trips.  The drive from El Paso (where I’m at) to Oceanside, California that I did last July was amazing as well.  I had no idea there was such a big farming and dairy area along the southern portion of Arizona on Interstate 8, but sure enough there is!  And the scenery is so amazingly beautiful along the way.  Once you get to and pass Yuma Arizona/California it gets even more amazing.  Sand dunes as soon as you cross the border greet you into California, then just as quickly you enter canyons in between mountain ranges, then enter a mountain range itself and climb and descend mountains through national forests until before you know you it, you’ve reach the pacific ocean.  Words can’t describe the beauty.

I could go on and on about the places I’ve driven to and the things that I’ve seen, but you get the point.  I’ve experienced nearly half of the country I live in a mile at a time and I’ve loved every minute of it.  I’m getting the chance to blaze a new trail today and tomorrow as I will be on my way to the greater Houston area, driving it for the first time.  I’ve spent a weekend there 10 years ago for WWE’s WrestleMania 25 that was held at Reliant Stadium and got to stay at a hotel downtown and saw a few things along their light rail, but I flew in there and out.  I’ve had connecting flights through both airports in the city a few times as well, but never have I driven from here to there.  And actually, the furthest I’ve driven east along Interstate 10 is a turn off to highway 280 that takes you into Fredericksburg, Texas (which is an amazing and beautiful little town in the Texas Hill Country), then into the southern edge of the state capitol, Austin.  So, now tomorrow morning, I’m going to break that barrier and traverse I-10 in through San Antonio (where I’ve only actually been in for a day as well during a senior band drum ensemble competition trip to Austin) and into Houston.  I’m so excited to see it all.  I’ll say that I’m actually more excited about whom I’m going to see over in Houston, but the drive out there is almost up there with the destination and the reason to go as well.

I hope you all have a blessed and great weekend!  I’ll blog again soon!

Mama, I’m Staying Home

So, I was thinking the other day about just how much I love my hometown, which is also the current city I live in.  A LOT of people that grow up here hate it and as soon as humanly possible leave and never come back.  More power to ‘em, and call me a homer or whatever, but I absolutely love it here and I will proudly say that I don’t think that you can give me a good enough reason to ever leave.

I realize my love for the city every time I leave it when I go on a trip.  Most of the time I’m going west towards Phoenix and Las Vegas so the landscape and climate stay relatively the same.  There have been a handful of times, however, where I go outside of the desert and it trips me out.  Haha!  Not like I’m some kind of uneducated dude or whatever, but I just love the desert climate so much that I actually immediately begin to miss it the minute I’m away from it.  That happened just a few weeks ago, as I’ve mentioned, but the thing I didn’t mention about the trip to east-central Texas was about just how much I loved the drive back and not only because we were cracking wise and laughing hysterically in my truck to the obscene and insane jokes that we were coming up with.  I loved it because after going from flat green land, we were slowly going back into the mountainous terrain that has speckles of green, but not as much green as lower elevation and higher humidity places.  It sounds funny to say, but even seeing the outline of the Franklin Mountains is enough to put a smile on my face.  It’s even better when it’s nighttime and the star on the mountain is illuminated.  It reminds me that I’m home and all is right in the world.

What really sparked this blog entry, however, were the thoughts of friends and family about this place.  Funny and odd thing is that of all people, I think my old man hates El Paso almost the most.  I don’t understand it, but a few weeks ago when we attended a game of our AAA baseball team, the El Paso Chihuahuas, I told him that I wanted to step my game up and buy a jersey but couldn’t decide on which one, and I wanted to add to my hat collection (which currently stands at 1 for the Chihuahuas) and get the away cap that simply has a beautiful “EP” logo on it.  Right away, pops tells me “Ah man, I don’t want that one.  I don’t want anything saying anything ‘El Paso’ on it!  I hate El Paso! …”  I shrugged it off and said that I personally love my city and I was going to get that cap.  Thinking about it now and talking to a friend of mine, I’m now wondering why he didn’t stay at his last duty station in San Diego when he was in the military and did not reenlist.  Maybe I’ll ask him when he comes back into town from his crazy adventures and I get the chance to see him.

Thing about it is that he’s not alone in the circle of people in my life who feel similar.  I’d probably say at least half the people I know who live here would move away if they had the chance.  I wish I knew why.  It’s not as bad as they think it is… well in my opinion it’s not.  Sure you can argue that wages aren’t that high here, but my two responses to that is that a) neither is the cost of living. and b) if money is your main concern, you’ve got bigger problems and need to get your priorities straight anyway, dude.

So that’s about it.  I know it’s going to end up that I’m going to be the last of my friends standing here in El Paso, but you know what?  That’s cool, man.  I enjoy traveling and I enjoy seeing and spending time with my friends, so it will give me a reason to go and explore places.  I already have a long list of places on this planet that I need to go hit up as it is!  Australia, England, Scotland, Japan, and Italy come to mind internationally, and US wise, oh man… the state of New Hampshire, Maine, New York City, Boston, Charlotte (and try to not die of happiness visiting the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Hendrick Motorsports, and JR Motorsports), Daytona Beach, Cleveland, Chicago, St. Louis, San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco to just name a few places.  So I have a lot of places to be, but I will ALWAYS come back home to El Paso and my dry climate, chill people, THE ABSOLUTE BEST Mexican food you will ever eat, and that star on that mountain that will always remind me of just how badass I have it here.

See y’all later!