Back in August 2013 I took a little holiday trip down to the Lone Star State to visit an old friend in San Antonio, and to see the Alamo. My efforts were amply repaid by the experience. And now I'm back again, on the very first holiday that I've planned and executed all by my lonesome since that one.
I love Texas. The moment I get off the plane and out of the airport at Houston, or San Antonio, or Austin (where I am now), I always feel like I'm somehow coming back to the real world, the way it bloody well SHOULD be.
Living and working in the northeast, as I do, can be a highly disorienting experience because everything is just so... unreal there. People live in tiny little apartments and obsess over celebrity nonsense and kill themselves working jobs that they hate, enduring bone-chilling winters, dealing with miserable dirty dingy inefficient public transportation...
Whereas out here, the weather is warm, the people even more so, and you can drive down the open road with just God and eight million miles of headroom above you.
God must, indeed, have been very proud when He finished making Texas.
So here, to mark my special affection for her and my delight at being back in a (still relatively) free country, is a lightly edited version of what I wrote the last time I was here, far too long ago:
It's always refreshing to travel from the North to the South in this country. You get to experience a very different, and very pleasant, side of life that you never really see anywhere else.
I have a particular soft spot for Texas. I've loved this state ever since I first visited it, nearly 6 years ago. I've always loved the courtesy and soft Southern politeness of its people, their stubborn pride and independence, and the beauty of the women. And that's just urban Texas. Sure, the state is full of rednecks too, and there are plenty of massively oversized, overstuffed corn-fed land whales walking (waddling, really) around here, and it's a little difficult to take the whole "Lone Star" state thing seriously after watching a few episodes of "Walker, Texas Ranger", but come on, it's still a great state.
Any Northerner who has ever been to the South knows what I mean when I write that things operate on very different principles down here.
Life moves at a very different pace, things are much cheaper (especially food), and the culture is far less materialistic and far more concerned with the things that truly matter: family, faith, and freedom. To those who have lived in the materialistic, hyper-paced Northern states like New York or New Jersey, Texas is a refreshing (though admittedly very very hot) change.
There are two things that I like about Texas more than anything else.
First, this state very sensibly has no income taxes. When you come from a state where 10% of your income disappears every month into the wallets of corrupt bureaucrats and politicians in return for miserable public services and ever-increasing levels of indebtedness (with the PATH train system ranking as one of the very few exceptions to this general rule), and you then arrive in a state where people are expected to figure out how to get around on their own and are generally capable of doing this, then you quickly realise just what a huge difference that makes to the way people act and think.
Here, the government is regarded as at best a nuisance and at worst a severe hindrance. Even the People's Republic of Austin, where I'm staying now, is still recognisably "Texas" to at least some extent- even if people insist on driving around with "Coexist" and Obama bumper stickers on their cars.
Even in Austin, you can still find a gun range and just blast away for the sheer joy of it.
Back in the northeast where I live, government is regarded almost universally as a Good Thing, which is why so many idiot-liberals live there.
I simply point out that as a general rule, stealing less of people's money in return for lousy roads, stinking and often delayed trains, and failing public schools, and instead letting them keep that money to do with as they please, is Rather a Good Thing.
Second, this state believes firmly in the three Fs: Family, Faith, and Firearms. In that order. Ascending order. (OK, OK, Faith is a big deal here. Just so we're clear about that. Though I suspect that NASCAR fans might get pissed at me for not including their beloved sport at the top of that list. Above the good Lord.)
Now, as far as I'm concerned, the more guns in the hands of private citizens, the better. When you come from a state where concealed carry permits are basically impossible to secure, and a basic firearms purchase permit which supposedly takes 30 days to secure, really takes 3-5 months, then you rapidly come to appreciate the fact that in this state, people generally leave each other the hell alone because you never know whether the guy you're talking to is packing heat.
I don't know if I'll ever move down to the South. My firm has a large operations centre down in one of the Southern states, and if it weren't for the fact that I enjoy being near the centre of the action where I am, I might actively consider moving out and heading down here. Still, it's an intriguing thought.
Out here, life is meant to be lived for what it is, meat is meant to be eaten by humans, and guns are meant to be wielded in self-defence. Oh, and the weather's better too- none of this "freezing your ass off for 6 months of the year" nonsense that you get up north. It is not without reason that my little sister calls me a redneck, after all...