We began our Texas drive this time by stopping at a highway gas station-cum-minimart where there had been an accident in the early hours of the morning. Wreckage of a semi-trailer truck was being scraped up by fork-lifts -- there was almost nothing left of the cab -- while the destroyed cargo lay on the ground. Apparently the driver had misjudged the off-ramp and had plummeted across a median strip, truck on fire, and had jumped out just before the truck crashed. Fortunately, the truck crashed thirty feet short of the gas pumps. A yellow Highway Department front-loader scoops burnt debris off the roadway and into a waiting dump truck at the scene of a spectacular accident Cleaning up the wreckage

The first thing about Amarillo is that we did not eat at the Horse Hotel, which advertises lavishly on billboards within a hundred-mile radius of Amarillo. Any person who can eat a 72-ounce steak at one sitting gets his dinner free. We know our limits.

The second thing is that all of the tourist literature in our motel was for places far away from Amarillo -- Santa Fe, New Mexico, for example, or San Antonio, Texas. It was an indication.

The third thing about Amarillo is one we hesitate to note, because of our embarrassment over leaving our camera behind when we mall-walked the local mall. On Saturday, the entertainment in the central arena was Models West, where high school girls attempted to sing. On Sunday, it was Cheer Texas, a display in which girls from 4 to 18, each one dressed in identical scarlet outfits of shorts and top with bare midriff, performed. They were tossed in the air, hoisted on a man's outstretched hand, they stretched and strutted. There was lots of applause.

We arrived in Amarillo in the afternoon and spent the next day there. Around mid-day we decided we needed to take a tour of the city. Having acquired the Chamber of Commerce Amarillo City and Area Map 2003-2004, we set out. Navigator Bob almost at once pointed out the passenger window. "There This diamond-shaped yellow sign bears the words, in black capital letters, I SAW HER AGAIN One of the odd signs is the Memorial Park." It was a bare field.

A few blocks further, "There is the Trade Winds Airport." The lot was filled with junk cars.

We passed through downtown Amarillo, which includes some wonderfully lavish 1890s buildings, four or five stories tall. There are lots of railroad tracks, and a roundhouse, with an engine chugging back and forth.

The Black Historical and Cultural Center was marked on the map, but we drove around several blocks and saw no signs, and no other building than a couple of small houses and a day care center.

The American Indian Cultural Center, likewise, was not where the map said it would be. We checked the intersections. Sure enough, the street names were correct, but reality was vastly different.

After counting up another half-dozen goofs and gaffes in the local map we were laughing so hard we had to stop. But our driving tour still netted some interesting results.

Early in our drive we were startled by a highway sign -- the diamond shape which often warns of FALLING ROCKS or ICE ON BRIDGE. But this sign said I SAW HER AGAIN. In front of a commercial garage stands a rusted iron knight, sculpted out of sheet metal. Amarillo paladin


They are found at street corners, in front yards, next to buildings, in different colors but all the same shape.

It turns out that this is the work of Stanley Marsh 3, creator of Cadillac Ranch, where a number of Cadillacs have been partially buried in a wheatfield outside of town, with only their fins showing. Marsh, an early type of performance artist, has supplied the signs for anybody in town who wishes to post one. The Internet address is: http://recenter.tamu.edu/pdf/1523.pdf

The morning we left Amarillo was quite foggy and damp. We drove through some varied and interesting land, much of which we could scarcely see. Damply, we arrived in Abilene, which we can't begin to describe because we simply stayed indoors. We'll have to come back some day.

The rain turned to snow in Abilene, as the temperature plummeted to the 20s. We had a couple of inches on the car as we headed south, and there were still patches of snow in the hills 100 miles from San Antonio. Brr..rr..rrr!

We've decide to stay a month in San Antonio, with very few sightseeing reports for a while. Here's why: In November we decided to switch to a capable but complex genealogy program which runs on a PC instead of a Macintosh. In December we got a new PC which has turned out to be a lemon. So we have to work on solving our problems. Before December we had two reliable computers which served as secretaries, accountants, file clerks, database managers, reference librarians, photo laboratories, and entertainment centers. We were able to concentrate on sightseeing, studying family history, and keeping in touch with friends, family, and the world by internet. The computers hummed along smoothly in the background. Now we have a challenging new genealogy program and a recalcitrant new computer that have the promise to do better things for us, but we have not mastered either one of them!!

So we'll be concentrating on our hardware and software until we return to the condition in which these systems hum along smoothly in the background.