Why I Love Small Towns

Though I now live in Taos, I’ve spent most of my life in big cities – San Diego, San Francisco, Oakland, New York. I love them and their energy, the sense that you can make anything happen. But these days, I seem to only care about exploring small towns.Why I Love Small Towns  Before I left for Texas a friend asked, So, will you go to Austin?

Me: Everyone goes to Austin.

Him: Okay. How about Dallas? Houston?

Me: No. No. I’m going to the small, under-appreciated places. The places no one else wants to go.

Him: Genius! Covering places no one cares about will surely get you thousands of readers!

I get the feeling he was being sarcastic.

But here’s the thing I love about small towns: they are tenacious. They hang on by the fingernails, they’re not swayed by the flashy and new, they’re like your Aunt Mildred who hasn’t changed her hairstyle in 50 years and still drives the same Plymouth Valiant because it runs just fine, thank you very much.

Small towns have pluck.

Texola, OK, is east of Amarillo just across the border. I didn’t see a single person, though there were signs of life, like at the Cowboy Wash (sorry the photo isn’t clearer, but I couldn’t get closer because of the growling, untethered dog in the yard):

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Does not take quarters.

Why do I find this charming? And when did I become someone who likes looking at people’s underwear hanging out to dry on the front porch? Also: Does that make me some sort of pervert?

Here’s Water Hole #2, with its special deal of $17.98 for a 30-pack. Too bad I couldn’t find a cashier:

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Water Hole #1? No idea.

I love the enthusiasm of the person who painted this message:

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Damn straight.

And this:

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Can’t afford to replace the window? Just paint a new one, complete with curtains and decorative items!

About 35 miles west of Texola on Old Route 66 is McLean, TX, which is equally tenacious. The land McLean sits on was donated by English rancher Alfred Rowe in 1902, and he died a decade later on the Titanic. Sad.

But not much gets McLeanians down. They’re spirited:

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Who wouldn’t get their kicks driving that car?

… in the face of hard times:

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Just me and the shadows.

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Not a big market for antiques in McLean.

This was the first Phillips 66 station in Texas, and the locals gave it quite a makeover:

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No trucks were impaled in the making of this photo.

Though it sits across from this decidedly less adorable automotive establishment:

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“I have low self-esteem, yet I remain, undaunted by the perky orange cuteness across the street.”

So to my Austin/Dallas/Houston-loving friend, I say: You can have ‘em.

On Wednesday: Scamp Porn 3.

New Feature Alert: I’m getting a lot of interesting questions from readers, and instead of keeping them to myself, I thought it would be fun to share (with my answers, natch) on the blog. In fact, it seems like such a fun idea that even if no one ever sends me another question, I’ll make some up, because there is simply not enough discussion about hedgehogs around here. (Seriously, if you have a question you don’t want answered on the blog, just say so and I won’t use it. I can also post the question but keep it anonymous.)

Lastly: A big Gone Scamping welcome to all the new readers from RV Travel and Living in My Car. The sites are very different but equally terrific, and for those of you who haven’t, check them out.

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