About Traces of Texas

Traces of Texas was borne of frustration. Fifteen years ago I was out driving in my pickup truck, Old Blue. I was stuck in a monster traffic jam on I-35 near Austin, a situation that often causes me to question the purpose of my existence. This time was no different. “Really, Old Blue?,” I said. “Is this really what I’m doing with my one little, GRANTED life?” Old Blue was silent. He was thinking.

Then I flashed on a conversation I’d had 25 years before on that same stretch of road. It was the early 1980s and I was driving a friend from New Jersey to the Austin airport so she could fly back home. She kept remarking about the wide-open spaces and how she couldn’t get over how empty Texas seemed. And there I was, beaming internally, with an “aw-shucks” attitude, pretending like I thought it was the same everywhere and pretending not to understand her meaning. Right then I looked around at the traffic jam and realized that those same wide-open spaces, the very same ones, were gone, given over to Starbucks and Applebees and McDonalds. And I was sad. There was this wistful, elusive feeling that somebody should preserve all this before it gets Applebeed and Starbucksed to death. So I got into Old Blue and I started driving around photographing the state, sleeping in the bed of the truck on most occasions. Old Blue met a tragic end in 2014, but I’m still going.

This Traces of Texas page is about stories: your stories, my story, the story of the Texas that we know and the story of the Texas that we knew. This page will live on in a state historical archive long after I’m gone and my humble hope is that it proves both useful and inspiring to future generations. As the song says, “if you wanna see heaven, brother, here’s your chance.”

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