Great American Road Trip – Day 1

Route: Matamoros, Mexico to Abilene, Texas
Miles Covered: 537
Lodging: Candlewood Suites, Abilene, Texas
Best Eats: The Dodging Duck Brewhaus, Boerne, Texas
Heard on the Radio: Little Jeannie (Elton John)

We began our day before dawn, scrambling to pack, recycle, or donate our last few odds and ends in the house. Although we were running a little behind schedule, we left Matamoros at 9:00 am after M. turned in our house keys. Once in Brownsville, we had to make a couple of stops, including one to turn in our diplomatic license places and replace them with a temporary Texas tag, and another at the Olmito dog park, possibly Frieda’s favorite place in the Rio Grande Valley. Knowing the day in the car would be long for her, we wanted to give her a chance to run around for a bit.

Our journey took us through the harsh, scorching South Texas savannah, the rolling hills surrounding San Antonio, and the increasingly cooler and drier farmland of northwest Texas. We arrived in Abilene at 9:00 pm, just exactly twelve hours after beginning our drive this morning.

Frieda takes a nap during a long ride.

The highlight of our day was stopping in Boerne, Texas, about thirty miles northeast of San Antonio to have lunch with my wonderful third grade teacher, Mrs. E. We hadn’t seen each other in twenty-six years, since I was in Mrs. E.’s class when my family lived in San Antonio from 1987 to 1988. We had kept in touch for all of these years, at times more sporadically than others, but I never forgot her. As a kid, I generally really enjoyed school, and I was fortunate to have a lot of really great teachers, but Mrs. E. is that one who really made a difference for me and whom I always remembered so fondly.

Admittedly, I was a bit nervous to see her again after all this time. Would she be as wonderful as I remembered? Had I built her up in my head?

The instant I saw her, my worries vanished as she greeted me in a huge bear hug. I felt my eyes well up with tears… it was Mrs. E.! After all this time! I was so happy to see her. And so happy to introduce her to my little family. She was every bit as kind and open and warm and I remembered her.

We (Mrs. E., M., Frieda and I) spent the next two hours catching up on each other’s lives over lunch on the patio of the adorable Dodging Duck Brewhaus in Boerne. I learned about her life now, her grown children, and her running (she ran a marathon two years ago!), while M. and I shared with her how we met and the ups and downs our crazy foreign service life. It was hard to say goodbye to Mrs. E., not knowing when I will see her again.

With Mrs. E., one of my heroes.

As we got back on the road, we turned up the music in our car and continued our journey northeast. We drove through one small Texas town after another, each one boasting a Main Street and tiny downtown. It felt a bit like going back in time. Small town America at its core.

We watched the sun set just outside of Winters, Texas and stopped to take a few photos. The view was breathtaking. It’s been a really good day.

Thank you for reading!

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