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Old Spanish Trail plank road somewhere in west Texas (Courtesy of galvestonartist.wordpress.com)

This article serves as the second installment in an ongoing series on the Old Spanish Trail auto trail, describing a road trip heading west out of San Antonio, Texas in the spring of 1926. The first article, covering the section between San Antonio and Kerrville, can be read here. This article picks up where we left off and covers the section between Kerrville and Fort Stockton.

The noontime sun bears down on you as you gingerly scrape the loose tar off of your bumper with your old flint chisel. You try your absolute hardest not to chip the paint, although a little bit of damage in the process is inevitable. You won’t have to deal with sticky tar for much longer, though, since the road ahead is going to revert mostly to gravel, much to your chagrin. You check your watch and try and estimate how much more driving you’ll be able to do before you lose daylight. So far you’ve traveled about 70 miles in the span of two hours; your speed has vacillated mostly between 30 and 40 miles per hour, with occasional stretches where you could push 50 (hopefully you won’t encounter very many motorcycle cops out in the bush!) It’s 12:00 PM now and you have about seven and a half hours of daylight left; if you keep going at your current rate you’ll probably make it as far as Ozona or Sheffield before you conk out — maybe Fort Stockton if you really push it. …


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The verdict is in. As of March 21, 2019, the seemingly inescapable fast-food juggernaut and sacred cow of hungry American evangelicals, Chick-fil-A, has officially been banned from the San Antonio International Airport by the San Antonio city council for their “legacy of anti-LGBTQ behavior.”

“Wait a minute”, you stop and tell me, “isn’t this old news? Hasn’t this happened before?” It sure has. Multiple times. Perhaps you’re thinking of the well-publicized incident in 2012 where the mayor of Boston blocked Chick-fil-A from opening a new restaurant in the city due to their inflammatory remarks on gay marriage and financial contributions towards anti-LGBTQ+ organizations such as Eagle Forum and Focus on the Family. One would think that a major corporation such as Chick-fil-A would perhaps learn from their mistakes and not continue to enmesh their food products with their reactionary and discriminatory politics which may possibly alienate consumers belonging to marginalized or disenfranchised groups and therefore be disadvantageous for the company’s financial performance. …


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Saturday, June 24, 2017. Not a great deal happened that day. I didn’t go anywhere particularly interesting. I didn’t do anything that anyone else would consider altogether noteworthy. All I really did was have the best day of my life; one that I would remember down to the moment almost two years later. I suppose all it really takes is a change of scenery to really put things in perspective, even if said scenery is provincial and fuddy-duddy in the eyes of most.

At this point, it’s only fair that I provide some context. This story takes place during the summer of my senior year at the University of North Texas; it’s one of many stories to spring from my eventful semester abroad in London, England. It wasn’t my first time visiting our neighbors across the pond, but it was absolutely the most memorable — every day felt like an adventure, every place I went felt brand new even if I’d been there before, and colleagues who were practically strangers to me a few months ago began to feel like family. Now I’m sure we all know someone who went on a semester abroad and has yet to stop gabbling on about how amazing it was and how it changed them and you have to do it yadda yadda yadda. What would my favorite memory of the whole trip be, then? Did I discover my true passion in life? Did I find love? Actually, as it turns out my favorite memory was a day where I rode a steam train and visited a grotty seaside resort. Riveting. How could something so humdrum have such a lasting impact on me as a person? Is this the cue for a lengthy anecdote full of amateurish photographs and pontificating introspection? …


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Beloved children’s cartoon My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and fascism: two things that, to your average John Q. Public, would seem to go together about as well as peanut butter and syphilis. From an ideological perspective, the two seem pretty much diametrically opposed: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, which extols the virtues of friendship, tolerance, acceptance, and kindness; versus fascists, who extol the virtues of violence, division, cruelty, and subjugation. How could somebody possibly profess allegiance to both things simultaneously without the severe cognitive dissonance tearing them in half? Spoiler alert: there’s no real answer to that question because, as I’ve discovered, the small but vocal contingent of neo-Nazi bronies seems to be mostly immune to or apathetic towards the idea of introspection. …


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Brackenridge Park (San Antonio Express-News File Photo)

You take a deep breath and try and soak in your surroundings. You pick up the delightful smell of frying eggs and bacon very close by and, in the distance, a faint whiff of mountain laurel. The warmth surrounding you seems unseasonable for spring, especially this early in the morning, but apparently, it’s typical San Antonio weather, which “Yankees” from the Northern states flock to during the warm season. You hear a great deal of cross-chatter from campers, day trippers, families, and other leisurists speaking over a chorus of sparrows and white-winged doves. You’re surrounded by ragged canvas tents and automobiles in varying states of cleanliness, some sparkling clean and others caked in dust and caliche. You’ve just disassembled your tent and stowed it in the back of your trusty 1925 Chevrolet Superior sedan, a frugal machine that is nonetheless a marked improvement over your clattering old Ford from before the Great War. …


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Photo by ALEJANDRO GARCÍA on Unsplash

It is past midnight, and I’m sitting on an itchy blanket next to a roaring campfire with a roasted sweet potato and a paper plate full of chickpeas balanced precariously in my lap. Next to me sit a motley crew of reporters and media professionals, some conversing in Arabic and others in English. The local guide, donning his kefiya as the cool desert breeze sets in, sings a traditional “baladi” song to nobody in particular. We are surrounded on one side by the vast Sahara Desert and by the viridescent Nile Valley on the other, just a stone’s throw away from the Tuna el-Gebel necropolis and the ruins of the ancient city of Hermopolis. At this moment, all I can think about is how I managed to spin the roulette wheel of life and transpose myself from the cushy suburbs of Texas to another continent, another culture, another world so far removed from my own that my mere presence feels like a glitch in the matrix. …

About

Mackenzie Rudd

Mackenzie Rudd is a freelance writer, content creator, history geek, and pop culture maven who lives in San Antonio, Texas.

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