|List of Farm to Market Roads in Trans-Pecos Texas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
If you’ve been following U.S. news about the Texas governor’s campaign to woo industry and tourists from California and Maryland, or one outrageous statement after another from the junior U.S. Senator from Texas, you might be moved to think that citizens of the Lone Star State are cursed with hyper-inflated egos. This is of course not true of every resident of the state, but enough so to be credible.
Until Alaska was admitted to the union, Texas was the largest state in the U.S., a fact that was proudly touted at every opportunity. When Alaska became the 49th state, it caused a lot of angst, and japes such as, “it’s only bigger because of all that ice.”
|English: Snow on the Franklin Mountains State Park, El Paso, Texas, United States (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Well, folks, there’s a reason for those Texas-sized egos. As a native of the state, who has since relocated to Maryland, I must confess to falling prey to this illness on occasion. Here’s why people in Texas are so obsessed with bigness – the damn state is humongous.
Sure, Alaska is bigger, but so much of it is inaccessible, it hardly counts, does it? Texas, on the other hand, is big, and when you visit for the first time, that bigness hits you right between the eyes. I remember the first time I took my wife, a native of South Korea, to Texas. We drove from my mother’s home in East Texas to El Paso, and the drive took so long, she talked about it for years afterward. The immense distances were hard for her to fathom.
Having driven most of the lower 48 states, I know what she means. Let me give you a few illustrations of how sheer size and distance has afflicted Texans with ‘bigness’ complex.
Driving time from my home town, near the Louisiana state line in the east, to El Paso takes over 18 hours at normal driving speeds – longer if you factor in an overnight stay at a motel at the end of the first day. From El Paso to San Diego, California, if you depart at sunrise, you can watch the sun set over the Pacific Ocean that evening. From my old home to Washington, DC, factoring in a stop near Atlanta, Georgia the first day, takes 20 hours – just two hours longer than the drive to El Paso. These are just the east-west driving times. From the northernmost part of the Texas Panhandle to San Padre Island, the southernmost point on the Gulf of Mexico, is a tad longer drive.
No other state offers this kind of trek – not even the western states like Montana and Wyoming, both of which can be transited in a hard day’s drive.
Now, none of this means that Texans are somehow special – even though a few of my acquaintance think so – just that their environment conspires to play with their minds. So, next time you’re watching some Texas politician perform his little vaudeville act for the cameras, please keep this in mind.