Messing With Texas

The average person has between 50,000 and 70,000 thoughts every single day.  At least, that’s the number that comes up when I Google the question.

The discrepancy in those two numbers is quite large, I think, and I wonder if the difference is because scientists just can’t get an exact count, or is it that some people’s brains are literally slower than others?

Maybe it’s that at certain times, our brains just churn out thoughts at a faster pace.  Like when you’re driving alone in a car with no satellite radio and the only thing on is a song called “She Cranks My Tractor.”  Your thoughts will swarm like a hive of angry bees, all seemingly saying What the hell?  Who wrote this?  People are actually paying money to listen to it?

Ten days ago, I got into my daughter’s little coupe, which was crammed with most of her worldly belongings, and  headed to Boulder, Colorado. I was going to visit my girl, who is now a student at Colorado University-Boulder.  I couldn’t wait to see her new campus, her apartment, and all the places where she now spends her days.  But that long drive was daunting.  And I was dreading the trip.

You’re probably wondering why I didn’t have the car shipped to her and just fly out there.  It would have made sense, given rising gas prices and the risk of running headfirst into a Kansas snowstorm.  The reason is that a week after she got to Colorado, her dad called to ask her if she’d found a job.  “No,” she answered, “I’m waiting until Mom brings my car out next month so I’ll have a way to get to work.”

“Tell your mother to ship your car now,” was his reply.

If any other human being on the planet had suggested that I ship the car, it would have arrived in Colorado before the Martin Luther King holiday.  But because her dad TOLD me to do it, well, you know.

So I showed him.  I got into that bitty Beemer my girl has named Claudia, taking for myself only what was absolutely necessary for three days on the road – a few clothes, a toothbrush, an extra ponytail holder, a John Grisham audiobook, and a case of Pellegrino.

My son called about an hour into the trip to ask how miserable I was going to be alone in the car for three straight days.

“I’d rather be alone than having someone talk my ear off for three days,” I said.

He thought about it for a second and responded, “But that’s better than having your brain talk your ear off for three days.”

He asked if I was going to attempt a new land speed record from St. Augustine to Boulder, a fair question because I’ve been known to play “beat the navigation system’s ETA” on every road trip I’ve ever taken.

“No, my goal is to make it all the way to Boulder with no speeding tickets.” Plus, you don’t have a navigation system in this car, a helpful little voice reminded me.

“Mom, you’re used to the drive from here to Atlanta, and you know where the speed traps are. You’re going to have to be careful because you don’t know those roads,” he cautioned.

I stopped in Atlanta for lunch with my Granddad, who echoed that sentiment with a simple, “Drive careful.”

I spent Friday night in Jackson, Mississippi, with friends and headed out the next morning intending to make it all the way to Wichita, Kansas, where I had a hotel room reserved.

As I crossed the state line into Texas, a little voice in my head let out a cheer:  The speed limit is 75!  They won’t care if I push 90! 

My older, wiser self told the little voice to hush because it’s not smart to mess with Texas.  And then my foot and that little voice began battling with my older, wiser self over exactly how fast I should drive.

Turn on the cruise control.  Naw, you’re only going 85.  They won’t stop you for going 10 over.  Keep it under 85, just to be safe.  But you’re in Texas, where the roads are mostly straight and flat.  You can spot a state trooper before his radar can lock onto you.

Not only were the voices in my head talking my ear off, just like my son had predicted, but they were also about to get into a fistfight.

A new voice entered into the fray, advising me to begin looking for a good exit because Claudia needed gas, and it was time for lunch.  It reminded me of my personal rule #8:  Never Eat at a Place That Also Sells Gas.

I was almost halfway into the trip, a couple of miles outside of Tyler, Texas, when the voices got really quiet.  Almost silent.  I was listening to Lenny Kravitz and keeping pace with a couple of cars bearing Texas tags when we came over a little rise and there he was.

You were only doing 84, the voice that had so vociferously insisted that Texas doesn’t care about speed whispered in my head.  Um, look again at how the hash marks are laid out on this speedometer, the other voice interrupted.  It was clearly 88.   But don’t worry.  You were moving with traffic, and the speed limit is 75.  They won’t care about 13 over.

As it turns out, the voices in my head don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.  Because I’m here to tell you that the State of Texas does care about speeding, and apparently, going 13 mph over 75 qualifies as such.

Yep, I messed with Texas.

The state trooper who approached my car was tall, dark, handsome, and very, very nice.  After asking where I was headed and why, (and then why I didn’t just ship the car to Colorado!), he told me to have a very nice day and to slow down just a bit.

I took that to mean 84.

I made it to Colorado on day three.  I’d logged nearly 2,000 miles, 30 hours of driving time, around 180,363 random thoughts, and 6 all-out mental brawls.

Oh, and zero speeding tickets.

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