I continued on north to Hico (pronounced with a long “i”, as I found out from a local), and instead of taking TX 220 to Chalk Mountain, I decided to head east on TX 6 to Meridian in hopes of seeing my old friend John, as in Bracken. I stopped just outside of town to make a phone call, but there was no answer. Darn it! John was a renowned horticulturist, and there were so many questions I had stored up about our ecosystem, trees in particular. I had become infested with interest and curiosity about arboreal specimens since living in the Village Apartments where the landscape department had planted so many different kinds of trees. Oh, I had so many questions for my friend. Maybe next time.
I eased through Meridian with its diminutive classic courthouse (it was on my watercolor agenda), and headed north on TX 174 to Cleburne. The Hill Country was disappearing in my rearview mirror. I passed by the 1913 Texas Renaissance Johnson County courthouse with its phallic clock tower. The building was too governmental-looking to suite my watercoloring tastes. I headed northeast on U.S. 67 with the sun and wind behind me and tuned into smooth jazz on 107.5 Oasis, making for a perfect homestretch drive. I passed by Midlothian, known primarily for its gargantuan concrete and cement plant just outside of town. It was gratifying to see how much they depended on rail service, I mean, there were miles of hopper cars stacked up hauling in all the necessary aggregates. I thought, “Hurray! Here was one facility that didn’t depend entirely on trucks.” It was quite a sight.
Old U.S. 67 had now been converted to a quasi-interstate, which reminded me of telling Dodi, “There’s no way to get in and out of Dallas except on a super highway.” I started getting a little misty-eyed, recollecting the good times on the trip. I laughed out loud, remembering Suzi putting the “Bubba” teeth in her mouth, you know, those fake buck teeth that can make you look so ludicrous. I couldn’t stop laughing at her. And now, I was rolling into Big D on I-35 through Oak Cliff, not far from where my misdirections had started two days before. The panorama of downtown Dallas just before crossing the Trinity River has to be one of the most spectacular views of any grouping of skyscrapers in the country, kind of like a mini-Manhattan skyline. It was down through the I-30 canyon and up onto North Central Expressway before finally sliding into “homebase”. Thank you so much, Dodi, for getting me out of Dallas.