Across Continents

Ken's Blog

Church on Sundays

January 15th, 2012

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Catholic. Baptist. Methodist. Others. Small churches scattered across Eastern Texas and into Louisiana. Invariably clad in bright white wooden slats. Sunday morning. Even the most remote appeared to have very healthy congregations. Cars often obliged to park up on the edge of the highway, the parking lots full. One had a sign that simply said "God’s House is a Church". I smiled.

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Bon Wier

January 14th, 2012

Mildred hadn’t liked Paris. The French, I’d asked? No response. But she was an avid Anglophile, a frequent visitor to Manchester from where I originally hailed. And loved Eire. Donegal. Ashamedly admitting I’d always meant to visit but hadn’t quite managed it.

We’d met in a cafe in Bon Wier. The only one. Almost three and I was ravenous. Sixty miles covered on an apple, a small bar of chocolate and the occasional sip of coffee. Meant to stop for lunch in Kirbyville twenty miles back but didn’t like the look of the place. There’d been another cafe shown on my map a little further on. But it was closed.

Most of the day had been spent slogging along the same stretch of busy four-lane highway. Tough headwinds. And quite a few dead dogs. One every few miles. No sympathy. Chased by far too many in recent days. Reliant on vitriolic abuse to fend them off. Spirits sustained by the odd passing truck filled with wood shavings. Delicious smell of fresh sap.

I’d gone for the pancake stack with a side order of bacon. Had to wait a while, but worth it. And close on thirty more miles to cover before dark, so I’d decided to opt for the addition of ’one egg and toast’. How did I want my egg, asked my server? Poached. Was that in water? Mildred overheard. She was one of the cooks here. Knew how to do it. And would I like some tea? No, I replied. Coffee was good and scrambled would be fine instead. Time to text my parents. "Louisiana. Two miles".

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Redneck

January 13th, 2012

I’d sat on a bench outside the gas station watching him for a while. He’d been given a lift into Romayor in the back of a pick-up truck. Dishevelled. Unkempt. Struggled to clamber out. I could have helped but didn’t. Certain that if I had, it’d be hard pressed to shake him off. Choosing instead to continue munching my cold cut sandwich I’d just got from the deli inside. Silently observing.

There’d been a chill wind leaving Coldspring that morning. Soon retrieving my jacket from the pannier. The only glimmer of light in an otherwise forgettable night’s stop a brief foray into a local dollar budget shop. Deborah. An illuminating presence. Intelligent. She’d worked in a school, but, she explained, her former mother-in-law also taught there. It hadn’t sounded very convivial.

The dishevelled man drifted around the forecourt. Approaching drivers as they pulled up in search of another lift. Eventually sitting on the rough gravel besides a parked car. I didn’t think the two occupants knew him. After a while they agreed to take him, allowing him to sit alone in the back whilst they both wandered inside. Brave or stupid I wasn’t quite sure.

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Neighbourhood Watch

January 13th, 2012

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Neighbourhood Watch. In Redneck country…

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Honey Island

January 13th, 2012

Ken makes a brief stop at Honey Island.. Flat terrain, straight roads. Cold cut deli sandwich the highlight of the day.

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Texan churches

January 12th, 2012

Ken is very taken by East Texan churches. It’s an architecture thing…

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Lovely stack

January 12th, 2012

"Lovely stack. Can’t wait to drizzle maple syrup over them" I said. The humour was lost. Fortunately. I’d stopped a small cafe and grocery store in the village of Richards. Established 2009. Meant just to enjoy a coffee indoors but quickly succumbed to the notion of a few pancakes. Side of bacon. Despite my tardy efforts at wit with my server, they were the nicest I’d ever tasted. Even if they took quite a while to come. Leaving me thinking I’d been forgotten.

Thoughts drifting back to Alaska. Small roadhouse I’d stopped in for breakfast after a night’s wild camping over the border in British Columbia. My server leaning across the table. How, she asked, did I want my eggs? So wanted to say poached. But just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Instead muttering scrambled.

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Close to Huntsville

January 12th, 2012

Ken stops for a coffee in the woods. Very pleasant. But not far away, Huntsville. Where some people go to die. Not of their own volition. Or of natural causes…

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Independence

January 11th, 2012

Ken makes a brief stop in the small East Texan town of Independence..

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Willkommen to Burton

January 11th, 2012

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Whispers of German spoken at the counter. Often just a few words, sometimes an entire conversation. The cafe’s menu reflected this. Seemed only appropriate to opt for the Ruben sandwich. Sauerkraut. Swiss Cheese. And corn beef. I didn’t remember the latter as being especially Germanic. But this was Texas. Small town of Burton.

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