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Super-Sized Road Trip: Leg 3 to San Antonio

January 31st, 2017 · No Comments · Football, NFL, Sports Journalism

Day 4 of the series and Leg 3 of the road trip to the 2005 Super Bowl, 558 miles from El Paso to San Antonio, part of the 2,431 miles across Interstate 10 from Ontario, Calif., to Jacksonville, Fla.

From February 2, 2005

SAN ANTONIO — Texas is ridiculous. Almost any way you want to cut it.

Just now, we’re talking size. This state is enormous. We drove from 8 a.m. till 5:30 p.m. today and barely crossed half of it. That blizzard in Hill Country did not help, but more on that in a moment.

How big is Texas? Almost 262,000 square miles. Bigger than reunified Germany. Bigger than France. Bigger than any European country this side of the Ukraine.

Mull these stats: While crossing Texas on our beloved Interstate 10, from El Paso to Beaumont, we will rack up 877 miles. That is a distance greater than it is from El Paso to the Pacific Ocean (840 miles) or from Beaumont to the Atlantic (787 miles).

Yes, big. More than a third of the Road to the Super Bowl is all about Takes-iss.

Texas is so large, it has a city of 1.2 million people, on the I-10, that would be a great place to put on a Super Bowl yet doesn’t even have its own NFL franchise. That being our day’s destination, San Antonio.

While chowing down at The County Line barbecue on the city’s trendy River Walk district, we got to talking with Joey Moses, the manager, and our waiter, Stu.

“Think y’all could put on a Sooper Bowl?” we drawled, tryin’ to sound local.

“Yessir, no problem,” Moses said. “With all our hotel rooms and all our experience with conventions? Easy.”

Said Stu: “Friend a mine, lawyer, is gettin’ thrown outta his apartment cuz they are turnin’ it into another hotel. Purt near all we got downtown is hotels!”

That was what we were thinking, too, as we cruised the heart of San Antonio in steady rain. Lots of hotels. Also, lots of restaurants, an enormous convention center, boutiques and the River Walk. And, of course, the Alamo.

The Alamo is the Mecca of Texas. Its Independence Hall. It appears to be Texas law that everyone born here has to make a pilgrimage to Crockett Street and worship at the shrine of the Lone Star Republic.

We were down with that idea, but we did not get to go inside the Alamo’s walls because this state is too darn big. The Alamo closes at 5:30 p.m.  We arrived at 5:45.

Everyone who has been to the Alamo complains about how puny and insignificant it is. We wonder what they expect. Windsor Castle, perhaps? The Krak des Chevaliers?

The Alamo is plenty big, which was part of the problem, in 1836. The rebel Texicans didn’t have enough defenders to man the walls and the garrison (Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie, et al) was annihilated by Gen. Santa Anna’s Mexican army.

We also found it plenty big while walking around it, in the cold, drenching rain. Yes, plenty big, with no umbrella. (This is the Sun Belt?)

We got more “bigger is better” while eating at The County Line. An “appetizer” of sausage and barbecue sauce was a half-pound of meat (or meat products, anyway), and a “side” loaf of wheat bread would be dinner for a Sudanese family of six. Enough food, thanks, pardner.

Even in the rain, the River Walk is a fun, attractive and a tourist magnet. Two-plus miles of downtown straddling the San Antonio River with shops, restaurants, hotels. Spiffy. Beats the city’s original idea for the river — pave it over and turn it into a sewer.

San Bernardino was thinking of the River Walk when it came up with the Lakes and Streams concept, but we expect a man will walk on Mars before Berdoo gets around to finishing that project. Or starting it.

Getting here was more than half the fun.

El Paso received an overnight dusting of snow, but that was nothing compared to what was ahead of us. Fresh snow began falling just outside Fort Stockton — about halfway through the day’s 500-plus miles of nothingness — and didn’t let up till we ran into Segovia, about 200 miles later.

It practically was a blizzard around a wide spot on the road named Junction, and we spent about 100 miles in the wake of a crazed semi-tractor-trailer driver who didn’t seem to mind going 50 mph in near white-out conditions.

“Hardly ever snows up there,” T.J at the motel front desk assured us. Not that it did anything to relieve the white-knuckle tension from the afternoon.

Perhaps they don’t really consider it snow, in Texas, until it achieves a depth of seven or eight feet. We can assure y’all it was deep enough that the California Highway Patrol would have shut down the I-10 long before we escaped Hill Country.

We got into the Central time zone outside Van Horn and now we are more than halfway to Jacksonville, site of Super Bowl XXXIX.

If we don’t have an easier day, or two, real soon … or at least get out of Texas … we may not even feel like going to the game.

Next: To New Orleans, 543 miles.


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