Whew! Moves are hard, but we've had a lot of wonderful help. We're moved in, unpacking, actually putting stuff on the walls, and starting to feel a little more at home. But even before we set foot in our apartment, I noticed: We're definitely not in the West anymore, Toto!!
If any of you doubted or wondered, Texas really is different from anywhere else in the country.
1. The stop lights are not vertical like the rest of the country--you know, red on top, yellow in the middle, and green on the bottom. They're horizontal--red on the left, yellow in the middle, and green on the right. WEIRD!!! Well, I was weirded out. They are horizontal because they are more stable on the poles against hurricane-force winds.
2. Although the scenery on the highway was pretty boring (mostly bushes and dead grass), there were a few interesting roadside gems. Tracy saw armadillo roadkill, which I wish he had pointed out to me! There were several stretches where oil rigs were just by the highway. You'd think in this land of oil plenty, gas would be cheaper than $2.50 per gallon!! But oh well.
3. Native Texans are really friendly, want to know your whole life's story, and will tell you theirs. On our first day in College Station, Tracy and I went to Denny's, and our waitress called me "hun" and "dear" probably about ten times. She told us stories about other customers she's had and about table manners (no one should start eating without everyone's food present--which we already do anyway).
Tracy's professor bought a used truck down here for his son, and after the car was checked out by an old mechanic, we went with his wife to pick up the truck. Just during the phone call, the mechanic covered topics ranging from restaurants in town to movies to the house he grew up in to what church they would attend.
One of the guys who helped us move in offered his old (being not exactly new but not yucky or ugly) couch to us. Yay for having a couch!!
4. Even the traffic signs are friendly. On the highways we'd see signs that would say, "Please help prevent forest fires," "Drive friendly," and "Maintain your vehicle." Such polite reminders! But my favorite sign was this one.
5. And this sign leads us perfectly to the next thing that makes Texas different--state pride. We stayed at Fort Stockton our first day of driving, and they had waffles on the breakfast table. I like waffles, but these are a little silly.
And state pride is huge here!! The guy who installed our internet talked about Texas football with Tracy for fifteen minutes and probably would have stayed longer if he didn't have other appointments.
While I hope I don't adopt all the Texas quarks, some aren't that bad. The last new fact about Texas is that we live in Brazos County. Brazos is Spanish for "arms"--for those who struggle remembering high school Spanish. So, Texas has received us with open arms, and we are grateful for our safety and for all those who have helped us move at all stages.