On the Road, Part 1: Houston to Fort Stockton
by Kiko Matsing
After my dissertation defense last fall, I had only one thing in mind: to escape. And there was only one place I desired to escape to: out West, on the road. Thus, when the term was over, I swiftly boarded a plane to Houston, rented a car, and did just that–drove out West, as far as I could go and get back in a week. Most of all, I wanted to see mountains and deserts; I was weary of subtropical green overlaid like dank moss on flat land. Winter is for desolation, and what is more desolate than the late sunlight of winter on arid, empty landscape beneath open skies?
“Why don’t we just fly to Phoenix so we can get there faster? There is nothing to see between Houston and El Paso.” That was precisely what I wanted to see: a whole lot of nothing, as far as the eye could see. I also wanted to traverse distances, to get a sense of scale, to grasp the vastness of the country. And so, with romantic fantasies of Kerouac’s On the Road, of Easy Rider, and countless other road movies, we hightailed through the Interstate, and into the West.
We stopped by Junction just to gas up and found Cooper’s Bar-B-Q and Grill–admittedly one of the best such places I’ve eaten at, except, perhaps Schwartz’s in Montreal.