Texans love their cars (and especially their trucks), but can pretty much all relate to a few similar things.
I had always wondered if driving in certain places made a difference in the overall experience.
While specific experiences in driving in Texas may vary, there are larger stories connected to Texas which you will find on the roads of the Lone Star State. And it is more than simply seeing the Alamo -- even though the sights do play a role.
When I think of my experiences driving in Dallas, Austin, Waco, or San Antonio, I see, hear, and feel some unique aspects of the drive.
Whether it's in one of those cities or in between, here are some things all Texas drivers can relate to.
1. The Pickup Truck
One is the large number of pickup trucks. Texas is certainly known for its pickup trucks, thus there is a culture surrounding pickups in the state.
While it may not be the only state known for pickups, it accounted for more than a fourth of the entire country's pickup sales in 2016.
Pickup culture is possibly centered on the idea of hard-work and traditional history. Thus, Texans may just relate to this through the sight of pickups on the road.
Another driving experience in Texans will relate to is traffic -- especially around the cities.
Sitting in traffic is a reminder of the population growth of the state. Maybe it's because of the corporate taxes, or maybe it's the climate which has made Texas a desirable location in the United States, but one thing for certain is that with a significant population growth comes the fact of more cars on the road.
If you are driving in just about any major city, you will experience a highway of stagnation built upon a system which never thought such a growth was possible.
3. Sun and Dust
Texas driving is seeing, smelling, and feeling heat and dust.
While the climate in Texas varies quite a lot from its northern, southern, eastern, and western most points, Texas boasts a sunbaked landscape and is often quite dusty.
When driving into Dallas, Houston, or Austin you can see the dust as it filters your clear vision of the city. You can also run a finger across the hood of your car or truck after a longer trip in Texas, and you will feel the caked dust.
Oh yeah, and the sun is usually pretty hot when its beams hit the state. An AC is a must. If you've driven in a Texas summer without one, you're probably cursing right now...
4. The Lone Star
One of the most common sights seen by all Texans on the roads is the state flag or at least the Lone Star. It took a move to Texas for me to understand how often the state flag can be flown along the roadways. It's definitely used more than any other state flag or symbol.
Also, no other state I have seen has such a mass number of state-specific branding and marketing. Texas Edition trucks, Texas-only deals, exclusive news and events held in Texas... The list can go on, and you better bet there's a Lone Star used somewhere in the visual packaging.
The flag is an emblem of history, and Texas tends to its history. It is more than pride, it is prideful citizenship in the state. This is a belonging which makes Texas and Texans unique.
Seeing the flag is feeling the meaning of it, and quite frankly I think Texans like it that way. Take them all away, and I'd bet more drivers than not would notice immediately.
Anyone who's ever driven a bit in Texas (and yes, it's a huge state, you can drive forever and still be within its borders) knows what Buc-ee's is. If you've never heard of it, you're missing out.
It's a total one-stop-shop, and whoever creates the highway billboards for the brand ought to win some kind of award.
Not only do the larger stores they have dozens upon dozens of gas pumps, but there's not a whole lot you can think of that you wouldn't find at Buc-ee's.
6. Cramped, Grid-Like Suburban Streets
It seems like a lot of Texas towns, especially the bigger ones, are spreading outward and becoming larger metroplexes. As a result, the suburbs are getting more crowded, and neighborhoods seem to be popping up weekly.
That means a high demand for housing in what's usually limited space, and it leads to the boring, cookie cutter houses and blocks you get when developers lose their imagination.
The Texas Experience
From the flag to the traffic, the experience of driving in Texas is one of the factors relating to what creates Texans. It is truly an experience like no other.
The place you are driving will always be attached to a positive or negative memory. So is it just the different sights which shape our experience? Is there something else which triggers our brain to adore driving in certain places?
The answer is found in the thorny entanglement of places, time, and whom you are with, in coordination with your memory.
So what do you think? Can you relate if you're a Texan driver?