Part III – There and Back Again: The Desolation of Bobcat

Where were we? Oh yes, if you recall, at the end of Part II, our heroes were finishing up from a long day of hurricane cleanup in the small town of Ingleside Texas. The work had gone well besides a close encounter with a crowbar and getting dumped on by hurricane water and cockroaches. Crazy, right? But now it’s time to return back home and let Bobcat come back from the sidelines and taken center stage again. Got it? Good. Let’s get started!

Before we got back into the car to depart, our older leader who had joined us told us to meet at Sonic on the way home for ice cream. This was about at the halfway point and would be a good place to stop, stretch, and exceed the daily calorie recommendations.

After the morning’s journey, no one was inclined to sit in the front. So that designation fell upon myself again. I optimistically opened my book and found the passage I had struggled to get past that entire day:

“Do you want us all to die?” I asked her sarc…

My elation at having read an additional 3 1/2 words ended promptly as Bobcat yelled to no one in particular “HOW DO WE GET HOME??” I point out that the cars in front of us are the rest of the people in our group and are going the same direction as us.  We fall in line at a stop light and as a gap in traffic ensues, the cars in front of us begin making their right-hand turns without pause. 3 cars. 2 cars. 1 car. Then it’s our turn. It may have been my inability to turn off my backseat driver persona, but more likely that this trip had given me a heightened sense of paranoia, I’m constantly looking around all angles of the car looking for an impending accident.

Rather than looking both ways before pulling out into the road. Bobcat proceeds to pull out in order to keep the convoy intact. This road happens to be onto a freeway with a speed limit of approximately 65 mph. There happens to be an oncoming truck headed straight for us as we begin to pull into its path. Thinking Bobcat will stop once he’s aware of the danger, I calmly, yet urgently say “car.” We continue. I raise my voice: “Car.” We proceed. At this point I yell “CAR” with the same angry enthusiasm as the 1980-something space guy from the Lego Movie:

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Sensing the urgency in my voice, Bobcat stops.

Nah, not really. This story wouldn’t be worth telling if it was that boring.

Bobcat steps on the gas and attempts to take the 30-year-old Suburban from 0-60 in 2.5 seconds to beat the truck. We’re halfway into the road now and since it’s a 30-year-old Suburban, it takes 2.5 seconds for the car to even recognize the gas pedal has been pressed down. Still maintaining an speed of 5 mph and with everyone in the car yelling, the truck reaches our position.

The driver of the other car has had his horn blaring for at least 5 seconds now. He understands now that we’re not going to stop. In a sudden act of heroism I will never forget, this brave driver swerves off the road and into the brush to avoid a collision. As he steers back onto the road and drives away, I catch his silhouetted raised fist in what I like to think was a thumbs up to himself for avoiding an accident, but what was most likely the middle finger to us for nearly causing an accident.

The inside of our car descends like vultures on Bobcat and nearly in unison tell him to be  more careful, to which he responds with a subdued “ok ok ok geez.” As if loss of life was no big deal. Feeling rattled, everyone begins to settle back in. I open my book again with my finger marking my spot. With the pretense of pretending to read, my eyes remain peeled to the road for the next hour.

Similar to the trip earlier in the morning, our car continues to cut other cars off as we veer in and out of lanes. I keep my eye on the speedometer: 80. 85. 90. 95. If you look at any car’s speedometer, just because it goes up to 120-140, does not mean you should actually drive that quickly. In the case of the Suburban, it maxed out at 100, which we were nearly driving. I felt the internal vibrations of the vehicle as it strained to maintain the speed and sensing subtle speed wobbles from the car.  I quickly tell Bobcat to keep his speed under 80 and notice his grip on the wheel and consternation tighten as he slows down without a word.

As Sonic comes into view after an hour, the car collectively breathes a sigh of relief. As we pull in and quickly exit, I take Bobcat aside and tell him I would like to drive the rest of the way. He reluctantly concedes and walks away.

We proceed to order from their more than 30 delicious shakes which are half-priced after 5 (I was not paid to say this) and I enjoy a delicious Oreo Cheesecake flavor. After 30 minutes, we get ready to go. With a satisfied stomach, bladder, and reestablished fortitude at the thought of a safer drive home, I head towards the car. My resolve begins to crumble as I see Bobcat sitting in the driver’s seat with his hands gripping the wheel. As I approach, he rolls the window down and without looking at me asks:

“It’s a straight shot home, right? No turns?”

“I believe so.” I respond.

“Then I’ll drive.”

Even as I begin to protest diplomatically and petition for the safety of others, I can tell he has no intention to give up his seat and rolls up the window while I am in mid-sentence. The other cars have left at this point, so I cannot petition their help. As the rest of the passengers in our car realize what is happening, they begin raising their voice in protest as well, but to no avail. With trepidations, we climb back in the car.

The next incident catches us by surprise, as we have been in the car less than 1 minute. As we make a left-hand turn out of sonic, rather than wait in the safety of the median between both sides of traffic, Bobcat makes a straight shot for it and pulls in front of a car heading our direction. For the second time, we are the recipients of a blaring horn as the oncoming car swerves out of our way. 

The rest of the ride home is completely silent.  No secondary conversations in the back. Not even a text conversation. Everyone was concerned with making it out of this trip alive. So there were now five additional pairs of eyes fixated on the road. If only everyone else could have driven as attentively and aware as we were, the world would be a much safer place. Unfortunately, this didn’t apply to the driver.

We enter the San Antonio city limits around 8 pm. Bobcat drives past our turnoff. Ok, maybe he just made a mistake and knows to get off at the next exit. He drives past that one as well. 

“Uh Bobcat, that’s where we were supposed to turn off.”

“I know.” He replies curtly.

He keeps going.

Where are we going? Worst case scenarios begin filling my mind. I want to pull out my phone and see if we are near any landfills he could be taking us to. A voice from the back reminds Bobcat again of the missed turnoffs. 

“I know. I’m getting gas.” 

He responds as he continues to drive past multiple gas stations along the side of the road. The tension in the car at this point is so thick that you could stuff it into a Bavarian Cream donut and then cut that with a knife and eat it. Unfortunately, it would probably taste like a combination of panic, fear, and two-week old standing water. He finally pulls into a Shell station at the edge of the city which has what looks like the most expensive gas from anything we’ve passed. I tell Bobcat I have a code that gets him 5¢ off/gallon. He doesn’t want it and gets out of the car to begin filling up. 

I turn around and begin offering words of encouragement and to hang in there for 10 more minutes. I can tell that some people are close to breaking down.

10 minutes later, we pull into the church parking lot where our cars are gathered. Earlier that morning (although it seems like much longer), the lot was full and we had all parked in the back. The lot was empty now, and rather than drive to where our cars are for us to easily transfer our equipment, here pulls into the farthest spot from our cars, turns off the car and says bluntly:

“I’m parking here.”

It feels like he’s ending our trip with a swift kick to the groin as I get out of the car and waddle around to the back (more due to the fact that I was chafing terribly at that point and it was quite painful). I get out the my tools, bottled water, cooler, and bags I had brought and begin carting them over the last expense of space between where Bobcat had parked and where my car was.

 I throw my stuff in the backseat of the car and drive away, hoping to repress this event, forget about it, and put Bobcat out of my mind for a long time.
It has been nearly a month since the events of this story transpired. The author is doing well and has vowed never to drive a Suburban, even if that means driving a minivan.

He sees Bobcat every week at church.

 

Boots on the Ground, Roaches in the Ceiling

Please keep in mind that this blog is written as an outlet of satire and humor. My experiences presented here are insignificant when compared to those who were in the direct path of Hurricane Harvey.

Part II

Eager to let Bobcat take the sideline in this part of the story, I made my escape from the car which had been my all-encompassing prison for the past 3 hours. Ingleside is a sleepy coastal town just under 10,000 people. Nearly two weeks after Hurricane Harvey, debris litters the side of the road, half-destroyed buildings stand, mangled and deserted, and residents are out early on this Saturday morning, doing what they can to assist in cleanup.  Speaking with many of the residents, it is apparent that their incomes are fixed, many have no insurance, and it will be months before FEMA offers any assistance, if at all.

We pull up to our job for the day and introduce ourselves to the homeowner. Our job for the day is as the “muck-out” crew – a term I originally thought to be made up, but really means “the strangers who are here to gut your house and then leave as fast as we arrived.” She takes us inside her house and immediately a musty smell fills the air. It is a small house, but every room had been flooded during the storm and is now showing remnants in the form of thick mold spreading up the walls.

As our eyes moved up from the floor, we see that the ceiling is in the same state. Black and green blotches cover the once-white plywood ceiling. Realizing I am about to fulfill my childhood “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” dream of being able to demolish a home, I ecstatically put a glove on and punched the wall to kick off our day of service. A sudden throbbing sensation in my hand and realization that I just punched a stud causes me to grab a crowbar instead and throw it at the wall in anger. Not wanting my enthusiasm to diminish, I quickly grab the nearest tool, wincingly yell “yeeeeeaaaah!” and get to work.

We begin working on the walls first. With a combination of crowbars and power-saws, drywall and insulation begins to litter the ground and a few people are assigned a wheelbarrow to carry it out and dump it in the front yard. As I begin working on a sidewall that connects to another room, I faintly hear people in the other room discussing a particularly difficult portion of the wall. At that moment, I am bending down next to the wall to remove some lower insulation. I suddenly hear Bobcat yell out “WATCH OUT I’LL DO IT!” Without warning, a crowbar bursts from the wall to the left of me, inches from my head.

I slowly turn my head and look at the crowbar as I hear Bobcat grunting and struggle to pull it out, not having contributed to the solution of the wall. I half expect him to stick his head out from behind the wall and with a menacing grin on his face, yell “Heeeeeeere’s Bobcat!” I walk to the other room and talk about safety first, common sense, and assign him a broom instead.

As we get to work on the ceiling, I developed a strategy for removing the panels. I would use the crowbar to begin creating large, square-shapes in the panels, and when three sides had been completed, the panel would easily come away by pulling it down on the fourth, unfinished side. About an hour into working on the ceiling, I am nearly through cutting through the third side when the entire ceiling comes down unexpectedly on top of me.

Now normally, if a big piece of plywood comes down on your head, you’d call it a day and go get an x-ray. But since this piece was saturated with mold, it merely broke to pieces over my head. However, I quickly discovered the reason it collapsed was that water from the hurricane had been trapped in the ceiling and made its way into the insulation. Furthermore, this area was where a number of large cockroaches had decided to nest.

So allow me to paint you a picture with my imagination brush of the situation. I have a moldy ceiling break apart on my head while 2-week old standing water pours down on top of me with waterlogged and moldy insulation. Due to my intrusiveness, the serenity of what was once the home of a happy cluster of cockroaches has been destroyed as they come crashing down above me in a torrential downpour of filth. In their confusion, they crawl in fury over the first thing they can find, which happens to be my body.

It was only 10:30 AM. We were there till 5.

Back to work.

The rest of the day went by rather uneventfully, except most people kept a greater distance from me than before. But by the end of the day, everyone had the same dank stench with a thin layer of dust and mold covering their clothing.

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When we finished, we gathered outside by the cars. I took my shoes off to remove my socks and burn them. I put my chacos on and not 2 minutes later was stung by a bee on both feet. I was ready to head home. As I climbed in the car, I apprehensively opened my book and found my place:

Do you want us all to die?

I wanted to believe the car ride home would be better than the car ride here, but that was just me being naive. How could I have known that it was going to be worse. So much worse.

When Your Roadtrip is not Hecka Awesome

Do you want us all to die?

My finger had been under this line in the book in front of me for the past hour and a half. For a week, I had been looking forward to some valuable time away from school to enjoy some personal reading from a book that had captivated me from the opening pages. *

Do you want us all to die?

My mind wondered as I attempted to proceed to the next words on the pages. My eyes darted up as they had so frequently during the car ride I was currently in. The long, flat landscape of Texas loomed in front of me as the road passed beneath. Ironically, the line of words in the book are precisely what I wanted to yell at our driver sitting next to me. A quick glance back to the other wide-eyed and white-knuckled passengers tells me that they are thinking the same thing, which is a coincidence since none of them have read my book. I stare forward again.

Do you want us all to die?

My mind wonders again. I thought back to the start of the day. How had such a well-intentioned day to do service deteriorated into a state of constant fear for our lives? It all started with a bad choice at 6 A.M. **

In light of Hurricane Harvey, relief efforts were quickly underway by a number of organizations, including the LDS church in Texas and the surrounding states. On September 9th, I was a team leader over seven other individuals going to the Gulf Coast to assist in cleanup. We were a small part of the church’s larger effort of volunteers assisting. In San Antonio, there were over 1000 people going down that day.

Six members of my team I already knew. But the seventh, who I shall refer to as Bobcat, I knew not. As we prepared to embark with our assignments, Bobcat spoke up, and said he had a suburban which could seat us all. In an effort to save gas and create unity (really?), but not really knowing this fellow, I made that fateful decision which would weigh on me from that day forward, and agreed to the suburban.

Since the rest of the group knew each other already, they stuck together…in the back of the car. Leaving the passenger seat open. I climbed in, thinking it as an opportunity to briefly get to know Bobcat, then absorb myself in the pages of the novel I was bringing with me.

I asked the basic questions for the first 30 minutes of the drive: general upbringing, what his life story was, and whether he thought pineapple belonged on pizza or not***. It was a decent enough conversation, although I had to tell him a few times to keep his eyes on the road as he drifted out the lane a few times and took some corners a bit quickly. When I considered my job finished, I decided to wind the conversation down and told him I’d like to start reading my book and opened it up to the earmarked page. I found my spot:

Do you want us all to die?

“So…..”

Bobcat had spoken. I glanced up.

“What kind of cars do you like?”

I guess he wasn’t ready for the conversation to end. I responded with Toyotas, but I’d take a Subaru if a Toyota wasn’t available, and went back to my book.

Do you want us all to die?

“So….”

I paused again. Waiting for it.

“What kind of shows do you like?

Only somewhat chagrined, I listed off a few of my favorites: Parks and Rec, Arrested Development, Master of None, and the first two seasons of Law and Order: SVU (because who has time to watch all 18 seasons). He hadn’t seen any of them. So I asked about some of his favorites. His first response was Power Rangers. Thinking he must have TV confused with movies, I told him I hadn’t seen the film yet. Neither had he. Realization dawned on me that he must mean the Saturday morning Power Rangers I was forbidden to watch as a child.

I listened with my mouth slightly ajar as this twenty-something man proceeded to tell me about the different Power Rangers series on TV. Did you know there are 20 different themed rangers? Jungle Fury, Dino Thunder, Ninja Storm, Time Force, Wild Force, in Space, Megaforce, SUPER Megaforce, etc. I just listed those off the top of my mind. I shouldn’t have remembered all those, but for some reason they’ve been ingrained. And why does each season sound like the year they jumped the shark?

I have absolutely nothing to add to this conversation so I just keep quiet and nod. Like when someone speaks to you in a foreign language (or an organic chemistry class) and you can’t understand but you still nod your head anyways like you do.

Without skipping a beat, Bobcat transitions into Web series’ he watches such as PragerU, Stephen Crowder, and Fox News. Getting a better idea of who this guy is, I silently make a bet with myself and ask if his favorite talk show host is Sean Hannity. I’m wrong. It’s Rush Limbaugh (I owe myself $10 now). Before I can stop it, the Trump-Train toots its horn and is full steam ahead now. Bobcat begins listing off Trump’s accomplishments, particularly that Trump visited Houston quicker than it took President Obama to visit New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina (which happened in 2005…so you tell me what’s wrong with that statement).

At this point, morning traffic fills the roads and rather than slowing down, Bobcat is maintaining a constant 85 mph, weaving in and out of lanes and unknowingly (knowingly?) cutting off cars. I quickly spot a McDonalds 20 miles away on my GPS and signal a break. Although disagreeing with everything political being said, I say nothing since my life is in the hands of the driver. I don’t want him to get any ideas that he can MAGA by crashing the car and ridding the world of a non-supporter.

The golden arches looming ahead of me bring an overwhelming sense of joy, such that a McDonalds has never brought me before. As I quickly exit the car, I burst through the doors, order a McMuffin, and soon remember why my McDonalds never brings me any lasting joy. As I return apprehensively to the car, I realize to my dismay that once again, the front seat is mine.

Do you want us all to die?

I quickly realize that my silence may be taken as an interpretation for Bobcat to continue his monologue. I abruptly turn around and interject myself into the conversations occurring behind me. For 30 minutes, a kinked back and strained neck provides me with a normal interaction. A small price to pay until we arrive at the small town of Ingleside. As we pull up to the house we’ll be helping, the car doors burst open before the car comes to a stop. The people in back clamber out and away from the car. Safe for now.

If only we knew what the rest of the day held in store.

Part II coming soon involving mold, cockroaches, pants, and Subway sandwiches

*Red Rising – The Hunger Games meets Ender’s Game meets Game of Thrones

** Actually, the first bad choice was deciding to wake up at 5:30 A.M. on a Saturday

**Pineapple should never go on pizza

Is a Cruise for You?

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If in your future are exotic locations,
Such as Cancun or Mexico, assuming existing US relations.
Unlimited food, tasting mediocre at best,
That’ll send you straight to the toilet if it hasn’t been blessed.
A week away from your children at home,
Or bring them along and allow them to roam.
Does any of this sound too good to be true?
Then a cruise may be for you.

Let us first visit my favorite location, the buffet.
Where I heard there was food forever, that’s totally cray!
Failing to heed Admiral Ackbar’s advice:
“It’s a trap!” Limited hours. I’ve paid the ultimate price.
There is one item unlimited, no cause for alarm,
It’s the melted soft-serve, constantly running down your arm.
When there was food available, it wasn’t so great,
But it’s better than starving, so don’t arrive late.
If food’s not your thing, there’s plenty to do,
A cruise may still be for you.

Your cruise director always has something to say
Ours was named Alex, he would not go away.
Nothing he said was of interest of me,
No sir, even at 25% off, I will not buy new jewelry.
The ship deck was a great place to get sun,
Until the hairy chest contest (for ALL participants) sent me on the run.
Many ship staff and visitors were Filipino, no way!
Imagine my dismay to learn they were all from LA.
Supposedly the price of the cruise was all inclusive,
However the $82 WiFi charge was very elusive.
Perhaps I got bored because I don’t drink,
But who’s laughing now with the bill printed in ink.
The activities I’ve listed are only a few,
But do you know now if a cruise is for you?

Our shore excursions were quite a delight,
At least Catalina. Ensenada not quite.
Shirt off and snorkeling with the fishes below,
Yes ma’am the water is cold.  How did you know?
Sunscreen was one amenity I forgot,
Which will not bode well for interviews with skin in mid rot.
Ensenada we drove around in a rented van,
Yes I’ll buy your tamales. You think I can’t eat 20? Watch me, I can!
If anything you must come for the gorgeous view,
How about now, is a cruise for you?

And so concludes the end of our trip,
It was an interesting time aboard this ship.
This has by no means been a comprehensive review,
But you should know now, if a cruise is for you.

2016 Year-End Review

2016 was a big year full of changes: new school, new state, and new socks.  In a year full of ups and downs, heartbreak and breakfast tacos, I always look forward to writing this year-end review, written in first and third person.  If you were hoping for a physical Christmas card to decorate your fridge with, click here to find a local Kinkos to do it yourself.

The beginning of the year found Matt frequently traveling for graduate school interviews.  In Seattle at the University of Washington, he quickly discovered this was not the place for him after being deceived by a delicious organic beet-and carrot-filled quesadilla.  Those things shouldn’t go together, but why was it delicious?  Matt decided it was just best to stay away from that confusing lifestyle.

Outside of Disneyland, traveling to the University of Alabama at Birmingham was one of the few instances where I have felt like a minority.  BYU always told me that I AM diverse for being a white guy who lived in a foreign land and speaks an obscure language.  But Alabama made me remember: I’m still just a white guy.

In the end, the desire to further understand Texas pride overcame my need to be pampered by southern hospitality.  I live in Texas now and have discovered it is a culture of its own.  Texas cities are like family members.  I live in San Antonio, which could be compared to your old, conservative grandpa who is unintentionally racist.  Sometimes I go through Austin, which is like your brother who is going through that weird phase; we don’t talk about him at family gatherings.

Over the summer, Matt traveled to Glacier National Park with a few friends.  On a separate but related note, he has also entertained the idea of running for public office later on in life.  Since most politicians tend to have compromising photos of themselves, Matt created his own on the trip.  This way, it comes as no surprise during election time.  The voters need to understand what kind of candidate they’re getting:

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I successfully completed my first semester of graduate school.  I am also happy to report that I received straight A’s in all courses.  Something I was never able to accomplish during my undergraduate courses.  This accomplishment has been offset by the repeated emphasis of the professors that “grades don’t matter!”  Oh well, at least I can still get free doughnuts for every A at Krispy Kreme.  Wait, what do you mean it’s only for grade school…?

In November, Matt decided to grow a mustache.  He doesn’t want to talk about it.

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The new face of men’s health? Or poster boy for chocolate “got milk” commercials?

Since it is the holiday season, it seems fitting to mention that Matt wasn’t invited to a single Christmas party this year.  This is only mentioned to make you feel guilty in case you had a Christmas party and failed to invite him.  He’s been free every weekend in December and most in November.  One friend was kind enough to invite him to a party for married people, but it was more of a pity thing.

So far, 2017 is looking to be promisingly boring.  Thank heavens.

Wishing you all the best,

Matt

 

 

More Things Texas People Like

This post wasn’t supposed to happen.  It is an uneccesary sequel, much like any Transformers movie or the last 7 seasons of Grey’s Anatomy (really, all the main characters in that hospital keep dying, why would anyone want to keep working there?).  But since there appears to be a market for it, these posts will keep getting pushed out.  So here are some More Things Texas People Like.  Let’s begin with where this started:

Never Being Content

Go read any article about Texas.  Actually, just skip the article and go to the comments.  If you haven’t lost your faith in humanity after the first few commentors and common trolls, you’ll find a trove of Texas complaining about what was NOT included in the article.  Really, you could read an informational article about the Alamo and have someone comment that it isn’t nearly as fun as Six Flags.

Think about how difficult it must be for a Buzzfeed author to “write” (quotations because I can’t believe people at Buzzfeed have jobs consisting of posting pop culture memes and lists) about the best restaraunts in Texas.  These authors (excuse me, the Buzzfeed term is contributor) have to narrow down the choices to the top 20 bars or the top 36 BBQ stands that will give you chills…er…sorry, I get my clickbait articles mixed up.  They are absolutely destroyed by upset readers whose favorite spots were not included.

According to the National Restaraunt Association, there are 43,670 restaraunts and bars in Texas.  If an ambitious millenial journalist really wanted to cover their bases, they would write an article along the lines of “The 43,670 Restaraunts and Bars in Texas You Need to Try Before You Die.”  Of course, someone will still likely complain that the article forgot the Tamale lady who comes over every Tuesday.  Some people are just impossible to please.

Whataburger

If you’ve ever watched Parks and Rec, you may recall the recurring storyline of Ben and his beffudlement over the excess attention people give to Lil’ Sebastian.  He doesn’t understand why, but he still goes along with it.

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“It’s a small pony. What am I missing?”

Similarly, I feel the exact same way about Whataburger.  To me, it’s still just another fast food place, but Texans approach it as more of a transendental opportunity.  So I go along with it. (For the sake of this post, I am an anonymous guest blogger to avoid potential backlash)

Whataburger (or you may hear it pronounced Waterburger) likely makes up half the restaurants in Texas .  Back in Utah, when two girls want to meet up, they usually settle on a soup and salad place or maybe some fake Mexican food.  You’d be hard pressed to find people meeting up at Wendy’s or some other fast food joint.  I meet up with 2 girls a few weeks ago for dinner and asked them to pick the venue.  To my amazement, they agreed on Whataburger.  Mind blown!

Ask anyone what their favorite menu item is and the answer will likely be the Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit.

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One serving and your daily calorie intake has been met!

When I first visited and tried this menu item with classmates, expectations had been set unreasonably high (like every other food recommendation I’ve been given here).  Yes, it was good.  But not knock your socks off good (I was partly to blame for wearing shoes that day).  I’ll probably get another one, probably as a way to break my New Year’s Resolution in early January.  But where one breakfast food may fail, there are dozens more attempting to take its spot, which leads to…

Breakfast Tacos

These are nothing new.  Breakfast tacos have been around for a long time.  In Utah, breakfast burritos are more common.  The biggest advantage of the Texas Tacos over the Utah Burrito that you won’t be regretting your choice from the confines of the bathroom for the rest of the day.

Even the term itself, ‘breakfast taco’ is classic Tex-Mex food formula.  One word is English. One word is Spanish.  It turns regular food into breakfast food.   It provides an ethnic experience without having to travel.  Some people grab a coffee and doughnut on their way to work in the morning.  In Texas, you grab your taco and coffee to go.  It doesn’t ring as well, but who cares?! You have a breakfast taco!

Vendors jam pack their tortillas as well.  Being used to meager fillings in Utah, I ordered 4 breakfast tacos my first time.  If you’re assuming I didn’t eat them all, you’re wrong.  I did, and I was more full than I would have liked and it hurt a little bit.  But it was a good hurt.download

If you thought breakfast tacos came from Mexico, you’re probably right, but you will also probably be told you’re wrong by people from Austin

Austin is its own post which I don’t even want to try writing about.  So if you’d like to guest post, let me know!

I’d ask if I missed anything, but people will let me know anyways.

Things Texas People Like

Blogging is hard.  I haven’t gotten to the point where hundreds of ideas just flow through my mind until I’m rolling in ad endorsements.  My primary forte has been finding groups of people to poke fun at and I quickly exhausted my resources of Utah county (although this election cycle provides plenty of new material, but I’ll just leave that to every media outlet).

For those of you who didn’t know I moved to Texas, I moved to Texas.  It’s been about two months now and in that time I still don’t understand the root of Texas pride.  However, I have been able to see that many things are, in fact bigger in Texas: trucks, alcohol tolerance, and waistlines (San Antonio: 8th largest in the nation!) for example.  There is a whole group of people down here with their own culture and stereotypes that must be spoken of.  And so continues the saga with Things Texas People Like.

Driving the speed limit

When someone strikes a nerve with you while driving, do you ever glance at them while driving past them to see if they look as bad as they drive?  Since I’ve been in Texas, it has taken a great deal of self-control to keep watch where I’m going and eyes on the road.

“Is there a 7 care pile up ahead?”

No! It’s just half the freeway population doing 5 under the speed limit!

Coming from Utah where the average speed is 10 over (I’m not implicating myself as a reckless driver, it’s everyone else), if you pulled that speed here, you’re likely to be bigger target for cops than sprinkled doughnuts on a stake out.  I half expect there to be a dog or family of otters in front of all these cars to explain their speed.  But I am always left disappointed that I have yet to see a family of otters running through the freeway.  In Utah, I used to hear all the time what bad drivers we are.  I think a more appropriate statement would be:

(Insert your state here) has bad drivers”

Talking about Restaurants you’ve Never been to (and shooting down the ones you have)

One of my first weekends in Texas, we had just finished a successful trip to IKEA in Austin (about an hour and a half drive).  We were hungry and wanted to find somewhere good to eat.  Consulting Google, we found a place called Rudy’s with excellent ratings.  As newbies, the employees treated us to a small, free platter of samplers to see what we liked.  We proceeded to consume a satisfying meal of brisket, half a loaf of bread (calories don’t count if you don’t count them!), and creamed corn that tasted like ice cream.  We were content.

Later that week in class, we told others of our experience.  All we wanted was for others to be happy of our decision.  What we were told instead was that we should have gone literally anywhere else.

“Oh sure, Rudy’s is fine, but it’s a franchise and you can find that anywhere.  You should have tried…”

Then came a more heated discussion than the blue/gold dress of 2015 as everyone but us Utah folk contributed to the conversation and disagreed on where the best BBQ places are. What I came to understand was that it didn’t matter if we bought some good-looking chairs, we wasted a trip to Austin. If I had a nickel for how many restaurants have been recommended to me down here, I still wouldn’t be rich, but I would have just an absurd amount of nickels.  Even after we go out and try a recommended place, there is always someone to disprove our decision and give us 10 other alternatives.

So, if you ever come to town and are looking for recommendations, please don’t ask me, and whatever you do, don’t tell anyone where you decided to go.  Also, you’ll likely have to travel to Austin because apparently all the best restaurants are not in San Antonio.

Blue Bell

Blue-Bell-ice-cream.jpg

A play off the moniker “What happens in Vegas…” is “What’s made in Texas, stays in Texas.  They’re very selfish with their BBQ sauces, HEB grocery stores (one of the best things in Texas), and especially Blue Bell ice cream.  Once I decided to pay nearly $7 for a half-gallon of buttered pecan (pronounced pee-can), I was immediately  hooked and went and bought another tub the next day upon finishing the first (don’t judge me).

Yes, there was a Listeria outbreak last year in which over 8 million gallons were recalled.  Yes, a few people did die from it.  But, since they used the phrase “we’re rebranding” during their comeback, like Chipotle or Wells Fargo, I completely trust them.  It’s just so good!

If you want a small taste of it in Utah, they serve it at Ike’s Creamery in Provo Beach Resort.

Football

I’m not a sports guy.  I love attending events, but watching random games on TV isn’t my favorite idea, and don’t expect me to know any stats either.  It took me about 5 years at BYU before I could hold my own in a conversation about BYU football, always made difficult by the fact that the lineup changes constantly (stop graduating for just one year, please!).

Now I feel like an idiot all over again.  My class is made up of students coming from big football schools of the south.  Naturally, the topic comes up…quite frequently actually…everyday as a matter of fact.  It’s usually the morning conversation as everyone follows up on their fantasy football stats.  Sometimes in order to deflect my lack of knowledge, I feel like saying:

“Can you all shut up? I’m getting ready to learn!”

or I just keep it vague:

“I like when the team you like gets more points than the other!”

But those both make me feel about as comfortable as getting stabbed, so I keep it to myself.

Texas is fine as far as states that start with T go.  I’m not sure where Texas pride comes from yet (unless it comes from Blue Bell, then I completely understand).  Another year may help me understand that, but also give me more things to write about.