One of the reasons I was so looking forward to the Texas portion of my trip is the food. Namely, hulking fall-apart slabs of heaven on earth they call brisket.
I've been driving four hours into Texas when I decide it's time to eat. Any Texan will tell you that four hours of driving is a spin around the corner, in such a massive state. I had hardly made my way into mars-scape called simply 'West Texas.' I wasn't being too ambitious either. I could forego the brisket for anything else that would tell me 'yes, you are officially here.'
Word of advice: if you get hungry while traveling the freeway at 10pm on a Sunday night in this part of the world, you will be disappointed.
I chose to get off at Van Horn, because the mileage signs had been harking its growing proximity for over an hour. A town used as a marker like that must have something decent to eat, right? Wrong.
Or I should say, everywhere I would want to eat was in the process of closing as I stepped foot in the door.
RJ's Bar and Grill: "Sorry hun, bar's open til eleven, but the kitchen just closed. There's a McDonald's on the other side of the freeway." Thanks!
And the Van Horn Cattle Company, which sounds like quintessential Texas, shut off its neon sign just as I pulled into the parking lot. Ok, message received, Van Horn!
My last refuge was the Shell station. The young man and woman attending the counter seemed sympathetic, and they too offered a fastfood alternative: Sonic in For Sutter, an hour and a half away. (Which would probably be closed by the time I got there, even if I could muster excitement for the chain who's commercials air constantly in markets where they have no restaurants!).
I ask the man if they have anything hot, and what's this? He points to a heat lamp rack, under which trays of plastic-wrapped mini-burritos glisten. There are quite a few flavors: bean and cheese, taco meat, chicken, and.... brisket! Keeping my hopes in check, I choose the brisket. The tortilla and meat have retained their moistness - thank you Saran-wrap! And the chopped onions help add a bit of contrast. It's nowhere near the brisket meal I dream of, but when you feel yourself becoming unhinged at the prospect of a sad McSalad dinner, you take whatever form of brisket the travel gods send your way.