April 15, Monday

Day one would get us to Laredo, departing Fort Worth at 3:30pm (I worked graveyard shift that morning) and stopping in Austin for dinner. We ate a fine dinner of KFC chicken strips near the Congress Avenue bridge, timing our stop with sunset so we could watch the exodus of two millon bats from under the bridge, a nightly occurance and besides live music, one of Austin's primary tourist attractions. The bats ran late--it was a good half-hour after sunset when we decided we'd waited long enough, and hit the highway south. Texas south of San Antonio was new to me, and though we traveled the "NAFTA Highway" after dark, the parallel former MoP to Laredo was damn busy--it's a good thing UP installed CTC here in the late 1990's after that deadly head-on collision in dark TWC territory at Divine. We saw a northbound. . . then a southbound. . . then another southbound. . . was there another northbound coming? No! Two more southbounds were ahead, waiting for a northbound. . . all headed to Laredo, where they'd no doubt be hours getting across the international bridge. Most of the trains were solid trains of empty auto racks, one led by a pair of Norfolk Southern locomotives for power. We made it to a downtown La Quinta--true to form, it shared a parking lot with a Denny's--not too much before midnight. The room at the dingy motel was, with tax, $100. I guess much of that went to pay the security guard who patrolled the parking lot all night.

April 15, Monday
April 16, Tuesday
April 17, Wednesday
April 18, Thursday
April 19, Friday
April 20, Saturday
April 21, Sunday
April 22, Monday