In an effort to stay away from the office today, I got into my Prius, charged up the flux capacitor, got to 88 MPH, and took a trip back to 1996 Sugar Land, TX. Seriously, I didn't go 88 MPH, the flux capacitor was actually a bunch of NiMH batteries, and the year is 2007 - but I really did end up in Sugar Land, TX.
Almost 11 years ago I moved to Austin from the Houston area. There are days I wonder whether I did the right thing even though everyone reading this will simultaneously shout "YES! You did!" at their computers. I had a nice house in Sugar Land and worked for a big computer company (yeah, that one). It is hard to remember sometimes just how miserable I was becoming right before I moved: There was the barking dog in the back that was waking me up, the neighbors-from-hell across the street, all the stuff I was accomplishing at work being converted to Microsoft Windows. If that weren't enough the trip today was a testament to why moving to Austin was absolutely the right move. When I arrived in Sugar Land today, I was trying to find my old apartment and house. My first comment to myself was, "I have no idea where I am." The area has become so crowded it may as well be an extension of Houston. My old apartment building is now managed by Gables Residential, and they destroyed it like they've destroyed most other apartment complexes (it was run down and I couldn't even find where I used to live). I haven't actually seen my old house in the daytime in a long time. The new owners have let it get really run down. The beautiful (but in need of refinishing) wood door was replaced by a white steel door. Yuck (the new door doesn't go with the house). The fence was in need of maintenance when I moved - 11 years later, it is still in need of maintenance in the same places, and more. I really liked that house - it was a neat house. The neighborhood, oh well...what can I say... Yes, as much as I don't like what's happening to Austin, I can say without any hesitation that moving was a good idea.
The impromptu trip was not without some value though:
I didn't end up going to the office. Mission accomplished.
The sunset from the countryside along "alt 90" tonight was amazing. I mean it was amazing enough to really have needed a camera (which I, of course, neglected to bring being an impromptu trip).
Aside from some small irritations (and the fact I was kind of tired and getting drowsy driving), it was a relaxing trip.
But it does bother me that they're doing to Austin the same thing that they've done to Sugar Land and the other Houston suburbs. Sometimes growth is NOT a good thing. Smart growth sometimes is agreeing that the way things are is just fine. But I suppose I'm never going to win on this, and when Austin becomes the next Sugar Land, it'll be time to move on. Sigh...
If you want a real shock, see the movie "The Sugarland Express" (the beginning was really filmed near TX Hwy 6 and US59 (soon to become I65, as I just found out). It looked nothing like that 11 years ago, and now it REALLY doesn't look like that.