Section 13: Carizzo Springs to Laredo
Dan and Julia have arrived! We met them last night and now we have a cushy vehicle and support for the next couple of days. To the gas station where we left off! Dan was quick to point out that this could be any other city in America. His remark was directed at the highly developed outskirts of Laredo where apartment complexes were built one next to another. Rows of identical buildings that had the same yard space in between, each with an expansive parking lot.
The commonality between Laredo and every other city lingered into the first half of our hiking day. The remaining streets were a series of friendly looking houses, save a ferocious dog or two. Beautiful fuchsia-pink bougainvillea vines draped over the fences and odd statues were positioned about the yards giving the whole scene a decorative effect.
We walked for miles right on Hwy 83.
Who knew it would require technique to walk on a road?
We concentrated our efforts on three places: on the highway, on the grassy shoulder or on a side road. We switched locations depending on the advantage each gave us in the moment. The highway allowed a smooth, eight to ten feet wide space. The con, it was eight to ten feet from a vehicle passing at 75 mph. We abandoned the pavement when one of the vehicles that thundered by us swayed or forgot to move into the other lane. That was our cue to step into the grass that slanted down into the adjacent ditch. The grass looked harmless enough but was deceptively difficult. The angle of the shoulder meant one leg was perpetually shorter than the other. The grass was in thick clumps so it required extra effort to navigate each tuft. And it was just tall enough that we looked for a rattlesnake with every step. We got the heck out of the grass as quickly as possible! Side roads were the best of all options, but so rarely did they continue for more than one or two miles that each segment was barely worth mentioning.
Every once in a while the highway would cross a bridge and the shoulder would disappear, along with our grassy edge and side road. When that happened we would straddle the guardrail and edge along the lip, looking down at the drop below us. It would always be in these moments that the most enormous semi would fly by, shaking the entire foundation of the bridge and making us wince. Fun stuff!
The landscape felt different! There was a steady wind all day which we had been told would pick up as we closed in on the coast. Personal skiffs and boats were parked alongside vehicles in front of the houses we passed. One home was built on stilts with an outdoor living space underneath - stilt homes must be an architectural norm in hurricane prone areas. This was reinforced by several regulatory signs that indicated this was a hurricane evacuation route. We also noticed several advertisements for salt water disposal services. They dispose of saltwater and incidental non-hazardous oil and natural gas wastes produced by drilling. We are on the lookout for the ocean..the countdown is on!
Right at the Zapata County line BP stopped to remind us that this is a high drug activity area. Yes, we’ve been warned about that around a thousand times. He pointed to the county sign and explained that the many waterways in Zapata County make trafficking easier here. Narcotics in particular are most commonly smuggled across here.