‘I’m Thankful That Old Road Is a Friend of Mine’ *

This rugged hurler guards the entrance to Dr. Pepper Ballpark in Frisco, Texas. (Monte Dutton photo)

This rugged hurler guards the entrance to Dr. Pepper Ballpark in Frisco, Texas. (Monte Dutton photo)

Gotta go...to an indie bookstore!

Clinton, South Carolina, Tuesday, May 19, 2015, 9:51 a.m.

The trouble with this road trip was that it started too late and ended too early.

I’ve been driving to Texas for an annual charity event for years. Normally, I take my time going out there. Last year, for instance, I watched minor-league baseball in Jackson, Mississippi, and visited the home of the great writer Eudora Welty. I’ve strayed over the years through Montgomery, New Orleans and Baton Rouge to the south, and Nashville, Memphis, and Oklahoma City to the north.

Monte Dutton

Monte Dutton

This year, I discovered on Tuesday night that I wasn’t leaving on Wednesday, thanks to an unexpected development, and, leaving on Thursday, I had to rush to get to Texas in time to visit a friend on Friday.

This is the general pattern. I really enjoy the trip out, and sometimes I plan to take my time on the way home, but that never happens because, by the time the music stops, I want to go home as much as Bobby Bare in “Detroit City.” I always get home fast, and this time I might have kept right on, straight through, till I got to Clinton at 2 in the morning, but the weather got bad and I felt it prudent to call it a night just this side of Birmingham. It was just about the same as the way out, when I drove all the way to Shreveport, knowing I had to be near Dallas the next afternoon at 1.

This whole trip was too hectic. I like to wander a little and explore the curiosities I pass on the highway. For instance, I wondered about Poverty Point, a reservoir and historic site in Louisiana. As it turns out, it’s a prehistoric earthworks that was named for a nearby plantation. The name just intrigued me. I’d still like to take a look at it.

Corpus Christi Hooks at Frisco RoughRiders. (Monte Dutton photo)

Corpus Christi Hooks at Frisco RoughRiders. (Monte Dutton photo)

I did end up making one minor league baseball game, matching the visiting Corpus Christi Hooks against the Frisco RoughRiders. Dr. Pepper Ballpark in Frisco, northeast of Dallas, is surrounded by suburbia, right down to the fact that the buildings housing the various suites and boxes look like condominiums themselves. The park has elevated bullpens with grandstand seats above and below them, and also elevated prices at the concession stands and in the parking lots, but it’s a nice, prosperous ballpark, and the game I watched was a fine one. Corpus Christi won the Texas League contest, 7-6.

Downtown Gainesville, Texas. (Monte Dutton photo)

Downtown Gainesville, Texas. (Monte Dutton photo)

On Saturday, I spent the whole day hanging out in Gainesville, watching a pie-tasting competition, a silent auction and all sorts of other events leading up to an evening of music. I was very marginally the host, but the new format didn’t really call for one, and when I tried to host, folks mainly ignored me because I didn’t have any lucky numbers to draw from a jar. My leg was bothering me, and I didn’t get much relief until I drank several beers medicinally.

All the events of the VISTO fundraiser were moved inside in deference to the weather forecast. (Monte Dutton photo)

All the events of the VISTO fundraiser were moved inside in deference to the weather forecast. (Monte Dutton photo)

When I’m home, most of my music time is spent with my own, so I rely on driving, which I don’t do near as often anymore, to catch me up. Music took me a little over 2,100 miles over five days, all but about 500 on Thursday and Sunday.

As I crossed into Texas, I listened to Asleep at the Wheel’s version of “Miles and Miles of Texas,” and it occurred to me that, in the first verse, it would have been impossible for a boy to move from his Louisiana home into Texas across “that old Red River,” which mainly separates Texas from Oklahoma. It would have likely been the Sabine.

Then there was the matter of the oft-recorded Jack Clement song, “Miller’s Cave.” I’ve always known it would be unlikely for a Tiger Mountain and a Miller’s Cave to be located near Waycross, Georgia, which even the song notes is surrounded by “everglades.” Cowboy Jack just made them up, and I liked a quote “Alamo” Jones (AKA Chance Martin) used on SiriusXM 60. “Jack said he liked the song so much, he wrote it.”

Poetic license, I reckon. I’d never take such liberties with a song, but, then again, I’d probably never write one that good.

Twelve hours on the road in a single day leaves lots of time for rumination.

The days are winding down in the nomination process of my third novel, which, with your help, I’m trying to get published through Amazon’s KindleScout program. I’d appreciate it if you’d take a look at Crazy of Natural Causes and, if you see fit, nominate it here before the 30-day nomination period ends: https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/1H8P26P38KYW8

*From Townes Van Zandt’s “Snowing on Raton.”

About Monte

For 20 seasons, I mostly wrote about NASCAR. I'm still paying attention, but I'm spending more of my time these days writing novels and songs. I try to blog regularly on whatever happens to strike my fancy.
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One Response to ‘I’m Thankful That Old Road Is a Friend of Mine’ *

  1. Al Torney says:

    Since when did country music lyrics have to make sense? I used to frequent the Okefenokee Swamp up there in Waycross, Ga.
    Freddie “Boom-Boom” Cannon’s follow up to “Tallahasee Laasie” was titled “Okefenokee”. I don’t recall those lyrics making any sense either.

    As much as I have read about Sun Records I can’t recall why Jack Clement was called Cowboy. He sure played a big part in Sun’s heyday in the mid-50’s. Johnny Cash mentions him at the end of his ” Baby I Wil Rock and Roll With You”.

    I just made a 2,500 mile road trip from Annapolis, Md. To Marco Island, Florida. Many miles of that trip were boring and ugly. I sometimes wonder about the sanity of spending that much time and money to catch a fish when I have pretty good fishing 5 minutes from my front door.

    Trains may have built the nation from coast to coast but the automobile made it all accessible to the American family. Thank you Henry.

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