When you’re taking a long 250 mile trip through Texas you get a lot of “thinking” time. You start wondering what any one of those 38 historical landmark signs could be about. Just how much history happened on the particular stretch road you’re viewing at 70 MPH? Will the Caddoan History Museum that looks smaller than most highway rest areas really tell you much about the burial mounds you’ve seen year after year when you’ve made the exact same drive? Does “Watch for Ice on Bridge” mean I should pull over and get a good seat?
As the lanes narrow from four to two with no sign of a shoulder for miles it hits you. The truck that pulled out in front of you is not some annoying yokel unfamiliar with traditional city highway speeds. That truck is a rural pace car meandering down the road at 55 MPH to make sure you take in all the sites. At 70, you’d likely miss Miss Molly’s Antiques/Beauty Parlor/Full Service Auto Shop, but at 55 you have the time to consider getting your nails down while your car gets fully lubed. The rural pace truck not only lets you enjoy the sites, it also let’s you engage in fun activities. My favorite, especially on a low visibility day is the real life version of Frogger. This is where you rev up your mighty 4 cylinder engine and swerve back and forth across both lanes. You place mortal bets with yourself like, “I bet I can make it around the pace truck before that semi in the oncoming lane slams me into next week.” Win or lose, you won’t be bored. The game becomes more fun the longer the pace truck’s congo line is as other cars stack up behind you, each eager and willing to take the same chance.. If you’re at the back of 3-4 cars and you make it past the pace truck without spinning out in some spectacular wreck, you’re the new Back Road to Small Town god. If you don’t quite make it, well you’ve given the rest of the congo line something to do while toodling along at 55 MPH.
Needless to say, I don’t mind the drive, I love to visit my family, but I get antsy once I spot the pace truck lumbering onto the road.