"Inter vs. Non-Inter"

I'd like to take this moment to expound on a little used resource of this great state. Throughout my travels, I have noticed a certain dependency on the national interstate system. While this is no sin, and is perfectly acceptable for short trips throughout the city and such, I would just like to open your eyes to the alternatives. If you havenít driven to other states much, then you might not realize it, but the Texas state highway system is one of the best in the country. It's certainly the best one I've ever driven on. Most others pale in comparison and some are just down right crappy (Oklahoma, I'm looking at you). Now, I know you say the interstate is always faster, but that's not necessarily true. EVERYBODY uses the interstate and the number of cars is always growing; the number of lanes on the interstate isn't. There is always traffic galore. Especially on the much used I-35. That's the main artery of traffic from Mexico to Canada and thanks to NAFTA, that bitch is more packed than ever with 18-wheelers. Iím sure you all remember the joy of the moving parking lot otherwise known as the drive home for Thanksgiving. What's the point of taking the interstate across Texas if you know you're just going to hit traffic. Why not drive around it? Just this weekend I drove to Shiner and back without once setting wheel on the interstate. It was great. For approximately 50% of the time driving home last night, I was the only car to be seen coming or going. It was great. This is the major point that draws me to the state highways: the piece of mind. There's no worry about traffic or other cars or even speed for that matter. For the majority of the time, you can just set the cruise at 79 or whatever and leave it at that. If you need to pass another car, just drive around it. Most courteous Texas drivers pull onto the shoulder anyway. And if someone is coming to pass you, be that courteous driver and do the same. At 73 or 74, you don't have to worry about DPS at all. If you want to go 120, that's fine too because there aren't that many DPS troopers out there anyway. All you've got to do is slow down for the small towns and you're set. That brings another point to mind: the scenery. What can you see from the interstate? Pavement, Citgo, and McDonald's, that's what. On state highways, the things you come across are exponentially more interesting than Chevron. How else would I have found the infamous Cut Ďn Shoot, Texas? Folks, don't be afraid to use your maps. They don't lie. All the lines correspond to real roads, believe it or not. Use them; you'll be glad you did.

Eric Cummings


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