East Coast Fall 2021 – Vidor, Texas

November 11

It would be a long day in the car as I plied my way east on Interstate 10, figuring I’d have a six-hour drive ahead of me.  Originally, we had planned to spend one more night in Mobile and then move on to Galveston for three nights but that went by the wayside when we needed to claw back days of travel to deal with Joanna’s Mom’s housing issues. 

Daphne to Vidor, Texas

So, we also took a night out of Mobile and I found myself on the road to Corpus Christi driving for two days while Joanna dealt with logistics in Durham.  As I was driving and listening to the Tom Petty Channel on satellite radio, they announced that they would be airing an interview with Mary Wharton, the director of the new award-winning documentary, Somewhere You Feel Free, a deep dive into a condensed period of creativity and freedom for the legendary rock star.

Somewhere You Feel Free

Showing on YouTube, it captures the period of 1993-1995 during which he created his seminal and most emotionally raw album Wildflowers.  This unvarnished look at Petty features never-before-seen footage drawn from a newly discovered archive of 16mm film as well as new interviews with album co-producers Rick Rubin and Heartbreaker Mike Campbell, along with original Heartbreaker Benmont Tench.

Wildflowers and All the Rest

It was going to air at 11am and I wanted to listen to it, but also needed to get gas and eat at that time and so facing this minor dilemma, fate intervened and supplied me with the solution, a quick stop for gas at 10:45 at a station next door to a Sonic Drive-In, where I could park the car, order, and eat lunch while still listening to the broadcast.  And of course get one of their chili dogs. 

Sonic Chili Cheese Coney Dog

My good fortune would take a minor turn for the worse when I hit a traffic pile up on the interstate with few options to avoid.  It would eventually add 90-minutes to my driving day, and it would have been longer if I hadn’t been able to find an offramp that took me to a side road I could use to bypass the hold up.  By the time I reached Vidor, Texas, my destination for the night, I was somewhat fatigued, and I subsequently missed my turn off of the offramp as I’d forgotten about the innovation here known as the “Texas U-Turn”.  This is a common feature at intersections in the state of Texas, enabling vehicles traveling on one side of a one-way road to make a U-turn onto the opposite road without stopping at a traffic signal.

Stuck in Traffic on the 10

And so, missing my turn I had to drive a few miles down the interstate, get off, make the U-turn, get back on and eventually take the right off ramp to my lodging for the night, the Best Western Plus Orange County.  After a while, these places begin to blur in one’s memory and this one was no exception, pretty much a standard room in a standard accommodation, good enough for a night’s stay.

Texas Turnaround

While looking for likely places to eat and get a drink, I came upon Rikenjaks Brewing, located a couple of miles east just off the interstate and decided to head there for dinner.  It was busy but not too crowded when I arrived and I was seated immediately, soon thereafter ordering their locally brewed bock beer and a Dixie Po Boy with chicken, essentially a cheesesteak with peppers, onions and pico de gallo and smothered in the house beer cheese.  It was good and went well with the bock beer. 

Rikenjaks Brewing

I would finish up with a Makers Mark (a bargain at $7.50) as I sat there watching the TV’s on the wall, one of which was broadcasting Newsmax, a new entry into the conservative broadcasting gamut, known for broadcasting conspiracy theories and false allegations of voter fraud during the 2020 United States presidential election.  What most caught my attention was an advertisement for the book, the Kids Guide to Donald Trump, produced by the former governor of Arkansas and avid Trump supporter Mike Huckabee and his education company Learn Our History. 

The Interior and the Wall of TV’s

As reported at Indy100:

“The advert says as follows, “Parents and grandparents, great news! Mike Huckabee’s education company wants to help your family to celebrate President Trump and all he’s accomplished as our president. For a limited time, you can get The Kids Guide to President Trump [AJP: yes, he’s just as clueless about apostrophes as his hero] for free. This fun kids’ guide will help your kids learn all about the president’s greatest achievements. What’s more, it’s part of a very special gift bundle that includes a free kids’ magazine and free video lesson, too. To learn more and order the Kids Guide to President Trump gift bundle, just visit FreeTrumpGuide.com.”

The Kids Guide to President Trump

And with that, I settled my bill for a very reasonable $31.50 (including tip) and drove back to the Best Western, this time successfully navigating that tricky offramp and Texas U-Turn to arrive safely, looking forward to a good night’s sleep in anticipation of another full day in the car.  As we’ve traveled the United States, we sampled a broad range of the political spectrum and this being the southern portion of the heart of rural Texas, I’d be sure not to make any quips that would out my political leanings.  Joanna would never forgive me if I came to an unpleasant end in Trump Country. 

Dixie PoBoy


Somewhere You Feel Free: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WblnLk387u0

Texas U-Turn: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Texas_U-turn

Best Western Plus Orange County: https://www.bestwestern.com/en_US/book/hotels-in-vidor/best-western-plus-orange-county/propertyCode.44682.html

Rikenjaks Brewing: https://www.facebook.com/RikenjaksVidor/

Newsmax: https://www.newsmax.com/

Kid’s Guide to Donald Trump: https://trumpbundle.thekidsguide.com/

Indy100: https://www.indy100.com/news/trump-childrens-book-advert-mike-huckabee-b1801848

Texas U-Turn attribution – By Scott Nazelrod – Drawn by myself in Inkscape.,

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