Texas Day 0

Saturday, January 10

Day 0 was a travel day, flying from Boston to San Antonio with a stop in Atlanta and then driving south to Zapata.

Up at 6, off to the airport by 6:30. A crow, some gulls, and a red-tail along the way. Got dropped off, walked in, checked my bag and cleared security in about 10 minutes. I found the gate, which was being used for an earlier flight and settled in nearby. An amusing moment came when a TSA agent walked over and shouts to someone sitting a row over that he left his keys at the counter. He went running back and after returning kept cracking up every few minutes.

The flight took off right on time and was pleasant, even though I was stuck in a middle seat (maybe I should have paid the $6 to pick the seat out ahead of time). Halfway through there was a page for any medically trained person. Nothing appeared to be happening until just before we began the descent when the two people in the first row moved and an older man and woman took those seats. The man was given an oxygen tank and they announced that there would be an ambulance at the gate.

Once we landed in Atlanta, two EMTs came aboard. I was sitting close enough to hear the general story. Apparently the guy had a pacemaker put in about a year ago and it was malfunctioning a bit and he blacked out. Once he got the oxygen, he appeared to be doing much better and was probably ok by the time we landed. And even with waiting for the EMTs to take him off, we still were out early (presumably we had cut all the lines to get to the ground).

The gate for the next flight was only a few down, so I walked around a bit checking out all the food. I eventually settled on Popeye’s, which was quite good (and my 3 chicken strip meal came with 4 pieces of chicken for some reason). After that, it was a fairly long wait for the next flight.

We eventually boarded. This time, I had an aisle seat (on the 2 seat side). Again, the flight was very pleasant. The landing in San Antonio was a bit rough for no apparent reason but an extra bounce is still not much. My bag came off the carousel quickly and a Hertz shuttle was pulling up as I got outside.

After a quick trip to the Hertz location, I got the standard “oh, we don’t have the car you rented available” but they did have a Mazda 6 (instead of a Ford Focus) for a couple dollars more and then started applying various discounts so who knows how much different it actually was. Soon enough, I was handed a set of keys and out at the car. I grabbed the lever to open the trunk and instead popped the hood. Apparently the trunk was the thing that didn’t really look like a button next to the lever.

Once settled into the car, I entered Zapata into the GPS and started out. Inside the packet of information Hertz gave me was a note that the airport expansion has made a mess of the roads right there and old directions don’t work. I didn’t see that until much later and ended up driving in circles and entering areas that didn’t look like the public was overly welcome for a few minutes before I decided to just start for a highway and assume things will figure themselves out.

Sure enough that worked. The GPS recalculated and had me going in the right direction almost immediately. Other than a fast merge across 3 lanes, it was quite easy to get onto I35 and start south. Even though it was about 6PM, it was still light enough to see the flocks of grackles, a cormorant, some pigeons and starlings, and a few vultures and Buteos as I headed south.

The road emptied out pretty quickly. The GPS had issues with the business road (it told me I was off the route every time I passed an exit for a good 100 miles) but otherwise there were no problems. It worked well as the highway ended in Laredo (which was good, as it didn’t look nice) and got me to the next part with ease. I stopped at a Subway in the middle of nowhere. It was at a truck stop and was rather interesting to hear broadcasts that shower 1402 was now ready over a loudspeaker as I was eating.

I reached Zapata by 9:30 or so and found my hotel (the Holiday Inn Express) easily.