Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Big Texas

Tuesday, January 15, 2008 -- Braunig Lake RV Park in San Antonio, TX

Texas is Big, with a capital "B". As a small town boy from Wisconsin, I grew up with a distance scale that had important things just an hour or less away. Milwaukee and Madison, the towns where our TV broadcasts originated, were both an hour away, more or less. That exotic resort town of Wisconsin Dells was also about an hour from home. Sometimes we went shopping or visiting relatives in Fond Du Lac -- yup, an hour or so away. My world, even as a young teen, was an hour or so in any direction.

Now compare that with some facts from Texas:

* if you get up one morning in Dallas and start driving west, after three long hours on the road you'll find yourself coming into Abilene. As you exit to grab a quick lunch, confident you're making good progress, you see a sign that says you're still 430 miles from El Paso -- more than 7 hours away at 60mph -- and you'll still be in Texas at the end of the day.

* Texas is so large in its east-west expanse that El Paso, TX, in the western corner of the state, is closer to San Diego, CA than to Beaumont, TX near the Louisiana state line.

* Beaumont, TX in turn, is closer to Jacksonville, FL than it is to El Paso.

* Texarkana, TX in the northeastern corner of the state, is closer to Chicago, IL than it is to El Paso.

* The north-south expanse is similarly impressive; Dalhart, TX and other communities in the northern corner of the state are closer to the state capitals of Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Wyoming than they are to Austin, TX, their own state capital.

But if you ever want to frustrate a Texan who likes to talk about how big Texas is, just tell him that we could divide Alaska in half and make Texas the third largest state.

T