My father had this beautiful map upon one wall of his office in Nigeria. It was one of those hand-drawn, water-coloured things, with the names of stations, villages, rivers, Points Of Interest and sundry other things named in a lovely script.

Truly a marvel of the cartographers art.

On this map the forest surrounding the town in which we lived was labelled “MMBA” in that gorgeous calligraphy.

I, being all of eight years old or so, decided that MMBA was the local name for that particular part of the jungle, and I quite happily told visitors — oil company brass, visiting researchers, Peace Corp idiots, that sort of thing — for a couple of years that Warri was located in the heart of the M’mba forest.

Later I was gently informed that “MMBA” was actually an acronym for “Miles and Miles of Bloody Africa”.


I bring this up because I am returned from a twelve hour — one way — trip to El Paso, Texas to pick up one of our wayward critters.

Goddess knows that I truly love my State — there is no-where quite like Texas, and I revel in that …

… but when you drive ten hours, finally cross a time zone, realize that you still have two hours to go … and understand that no part of this trip involves leaving the State —

Sweet shivering Shiva.

It’s good to be back home.


Class II Beverage Alert

52 thoughts on “MMBT”

  1. Drove from DFW back home to SW AZ a couple of years back and at least the speed limit bumps to 80 out near Odessa, if I remember correctly. The only unfortunate thing about that, is that it doesn’t go to 80 somewhere closer to Fort Worth.

  2. at cornudas’ burger stand (population 3) there’s a sign that reads “the sun has riz, the sun has set and we ain’t out of texas yet.”

  3. Having made the New Orleans to Santa Fe run a few times in the course of not quite getting my college degree, I came to the conclusion that west Texas and eastern New Mexico consist of nothing but miles and miles of miles and miles.

  4. Red Skelton once said “Texas has miles and miles – of miles and miles”.


  5. On my first trek from SC to CA, soon-to-be Hubby asked me when I wanted to stop for the night.

    “When we get the Hell Out of Texas.”

    Actually makes a decent mantra for dealing with the dying air conditioner. In Summer, of course. All I have to say is, Good Lord, I-20 is LONG…

  6. And that’s why the 55 MPH speed limit was so hated in Texas.

    I used to have to drive from Lubbock to Dallas in the 80s. 350 miles at 55mph.

    I got a few tickets.

  7. My wife and I have both had phone support jobs where we had to explain to people from other parts of the USA (and the world) how big Texas is. We used such examples as:
    – When travelling from the southernmost point in Texas to Canada, over 1/2 the trip is in Texas.
    – When taking a southerly route from the the east coast of the USA to the west coast of the USA, a third of the trip is in Texas.
    – It takes roughly 4 hours to drive from Dallas to Houston (without any stops) on the highway. (We used this when the superbowl was in Houston.)

    To give an example of the misconceptions people have on size, I had a coworker with friends visiting from Germany. They thought the Grand Canyon would just be a quick daytrip from Dallas.

  8. Hey, ‘Dog – –
    Yes, that’s still quite a one-day trip, but back in the day – – –

    My immediate family moved to El Paso in 1951. Both sets of grandparents and most of their other offspring were within 100 miles of Fort Worth. At least twice a year, we made the round trip. The first several times, there weren’t fifty miles of four-lane highway the entire distance. And U.S. 80 didn’t bypass ANY of those little towns that are now just big green EXIT signs off Interstate Highways 20 and 10. This meant 30 mph speed zones and frequent traffic lights.

    Dad always liked big-engined cars, which he kept in top condition with high grade tires, and he wasn’t bashful about cuttin’ loose out on the open road. We ate sandwiches on the move, stopping only for gas and URGENT rest stops. It was still a 12- to 14-hour trip, ELP to FTW.

    Ah, back in the olden days, lad . . . .


  9. The sun has riz,
    the sun has set,
    and we ain’t out of Texas yet!

    No wonder speed limits are just speed suggestions down there. When I went to Thunder Ranch down there I could not believe how much time I had to spend in the car and I found out that “just down the road” in Texas means 5 hours or less. 🙂

    I have to return in January 2010–to Dallas–double ugh!

    Shootin’ Buddy

  10. We live in San Angelo, in West Texas. My Mom-in-law called a couple of years ago from Iowa and said that they were driving down in the camper and planned on taking our kids to Corpus Christie for the day. I had to burst her bubble and let her know how far that is, especially when father in law drives about 45 MPH on the interstate. (yes, he’s that guy)

  11. Heh. I think the very furthest two points in MA are 4 hours apart, and that’s going from the furthest NW corner to the very tip of the Cape…

    In 12 hours driving time, I can just about make it south into North Carolina. That’s eight states…

    Puts Texas into perspective, don’t it?

    I remember my mom telling a story about when my uncle, her little brother, was going to the University of Houston. There was a bad storm hitting Houston, and mom called Uncle Tony (yes, it’s a law that every Italian male have an Uncle Tony) to make sure he was okay.

    He assured her that he was fine, that the storm wasn’t near him nor expected to hit him.

    An hour or so later, she saw that the storm was still battering Houston, and called again.

    He had to explain to my mom that Houston is HUGE – to put things in MA perspective, it was bigger than the entire North Shore of MA (where we live)…

  12. Unfortunately,, you can add FL to that list,, MIAMI to Atlanta is a long drive,, but to Pensacola,, yea,, bring food

  13. After 640 miles of my own driving yesterday, making me thirteen hundred miles for the week, mya I respectfully tell you that you can find sympathy in the dictionary. It’s there between shit and syphilis…

    a fan. really!

  14. SWMBO and I moved to Texas from New Jersey about 8 years ago. 2 stories:

    1) I mentioned to her that Texas was a REALLY big state. She asked, “How big?” I looked it up: 31 times the land area. Wow!

    2) We traveled down 95 to Jacksonville, then west on I-10, in order to avoid an ice storm in the mid-South. I have a habit, upon entering a new state, of looking at the mile markers and the exit signs, to get my bearings. Upon entering Texas I saw a sign saying “Exit 878.” I remarked, “What moron numbered the exits? Is this the kind of government we’re going to have to deal with?” 3 miles later I saw a sign saying “El Paso-875 miles.” My only reaction was “FUUUUUCK, this IS a big state!”

    Oh, and BTW, I generally like the government here – any place where there’s no income tax, the normal speed limit in most of the state is at least 70 MPH, you can buy full autos, get a carry license and the legislature closes up shop every once in a while can’t be all bad – especially not compared to the dark and fascist Peoples Republik of Neu Jersey.

  15. I’m a Texas transplant, but back when I was living on the East Coast, I would make the 12 hour, 860mi trip from Daytona Beach back home to Baltimore and cover 5 states. When I first drove to Texas 2 years ago, I saw a mile marker above 900 on I-10 and almost spilled my coffee. Amazing country it is out here.

  16. Little bit of perspective here. El Paso is close to CA than Dallas.

    Dr. Joe

  17. I know folks here in Connecticut who won’t go to events in the next state (or even the other end of this state) because it’s too far away.

    Too far away being less than 100 miles each way.

    A friend who grew up in Texas laughed.

  18. Yeah, the first time it hit me just how big Texas really is was when I realized — those Farm-to-Market roads you see all over the place? The ones that are the equivalent of state highways? There’s a reason they have four digits.

  19. By “state highways” I mean roads like IL-59 (I used to live in the western suburbs of Chicago). Not a highway per se since you get traffic lights and all, but a major road that links up several towns, at least, and is therefore a good way to get from point A to point B.

  20. Yeah, Texas is a good sized state. But be glad you’re not living in Alaska. That state is so big they have little use for highways — except as landing strips for light planes!

    Few people realize just how big Alaska is but if it could be superimposed over the lower 48 Ketchikan would be near Atlanta, Shemya close to San Diego with Anchorage somewhere in between. Point Barrow would still be comfortable in the winter since it would be around the Canadian border.

    There isn’t much conventional highway though. A few hundred miles between Anchorage and Fairbanks with more running down to Homer and a main branch circling around to Valdez, Haines and connecting to the outside world via the Alcan.

    One of the nicest things about Alaskan highways though is the lack of boredom. If the scenery can’t keep you awake on a long drive the wildlife crossing in front of you will.

  21. Oldfart,
    You got that right, mostly. Here in Ketchikan, we’ve only got 32 miles of highway, not counting residential streets.
    The longest time I can drive here without turning around is about forty minutes.
    My main memory of driving in Texas was El Paso to Galveston for a rugby tournament. Seventeen hours in a stretch van with club gear, personal kit, and eleven guys.

    Ketchikan, AK
    And if we divide Alaska in two, Texas becomes the third largest state.

  22. Well as the joke for Houston goes:You know you live in Houston when you go to visit a friend that lives outside the city limits; and after 60mins of driving you STILL havent gotten outside the city yet.
    Although….that may be more due to the fact that so many of my fellow houstonions couldn’t negotiate their way out of a paper sack. Let alone drive intelligently.

  23. Twelve hours!!

    In the ’80s, I drove from San Antonio to Kansas City (I-35 all the way) in 14 hours and I didn’t exceed the speed limit, much.

    That distance is further than going to El Paso. How many pit stops did you make?

  24. I made the Austin to El Paso run a couple times, and it is long. You start playing I spy a thing. Looking for anything man made.

    Word verification “farcoht” as in:

    “You kids farcoht one more time before we get to El Paso, and so help me I will leave you in Ft. Stockton!”

  25. I had to make a Phoenix to New Orleans run, and then back across from NO to Los Alamos.

    Yeah. My only brushes with the law ever- speeding tickets in Miles and Miles of Goddamn Texas. Even my mother, who is the stereotypical old-lady driver and normally terrified by speeds above 55, would creep up to 90+ without even realizing. We’re used to the scenery actually VARYING at speed.

  26. I’m from Nevada. Not quite the as big as texas, but still pretty good sized compared to some other states. Hell, we’ve got counties that are bigger than a large fraction of the New England states. I remember one year, in 2000 or 2001, there were a large number of fires, and something like 6 million acres total burned, which calculated out to I believe a land mass roughly the size of Delaware. And less than a few dozen structures were burned.

    Few people realize just how big Alaska is but if it could be superimposed over the lower 48 Ketchikan would be near Atlanta, Shemya close to San Diego with Anchorage somewhere in between.

    What are you talking about? On my map, Alaska is only a little larger than Nebraska. >:D

    I kid, I kid. My dorm roommate in college was from Alaska, and he'd always on and on about how small Alaska is normally represented on maps, and how Alaska was represented in popular media. It was kind of funny to bait him from time to time with something like "so how big was your igloo?" and watch him start raving…

  27. I lived in Texas, and described a vacation to a friend. His comment was “Where ever you are going, once you leave Texas, you are halfway there.”

  28. Old joke: [insert any of the Texas is big stories], it takes a long time to drive.

    Punchline: “Yeah, I had a truck like that once.”

  29. I just drove from El Paso to Austin. A few notes for an old Texas History teacher. Santa Fe and Phoenix are closer than Austin to me. El Paso to Denver is about the same distance as El Paso to Houston. Hope you got a chance to eat some REAL tex-mex food while waiting for the miscreant.

  30. If Texas were perfectly flat and featureless, you could build a 24×24 foot house for every person in the world and still have room for streets.

  31. Ain’t never been to Texas, but once I visited northern Arizona. Stayed near Flagstaff. One day I headed east to visit Petrified Forest. Three hours each way on I-40. I think I passed maybe five cars. The scenery hardly changed at all. I’ve seen more desolate landscapes than the Colorado Plateau, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a flatter one. Miles an’ miles of bloody damn nothing, all the way to the horizon. And the horizon was sixty miles away.

    But I’ll never forget the rest stop. Parking lot, picnic tables, and restrooms. And a rock-tumble just made-to-order for kids to climb on.

    And a sign.

    “Please don’t climb on the rocks. There may be rattlesnakes.”

  32. hehehe- Be glad for the Interstate! JPG had it right. From Texarkana to El Paso was a 17-18 hour trip back in the day, and that was running “well” above the limit…

  33. It was fun making the trip from Stephenville to Carlsbad last year; approaching the turn off I-20 in Pecos and realizing that we could keep going for two more hours and still not be in El Paso yet.

  34. Wolfwalker, if you headed east out of Flagstaff, it was down hill all the way as well. There are stories of biker riders coasting for miles out of Flagstaff (built on an old volcano.)

  35. On the other hand, if you want the most awesomely aggravating, non-city road in the world, try US-380 between McKinney and Denton, Texas.
    It’s a distance of 32 miles.
    It can take 2+ hours to drive.
    This is not because of the traffic, which is bad enough, but because there are no less than 43 stops in that 32 miles. Yes, I counted them. If you hit the stoplights wrong, you can start in McKinney at lunch and get to Denton maybe in time for supper.
    Which is why I go an extra 20 miles out and around to visit Nana.
    At least the million miles to El Paso is scenic-if you take the right route.

  36. When I went to school at Texas A&M, my family was in SE Alabama. I had a buddy that lived in Lubbock.

    Our drive times were about the same (~13 hours or so). He never left the state. I went from TX -> LA -> MS -> AL -> FL -> back into AL.

    That's when I really came to appreciate just how big this state is.

  37. Given that most of my state isn’t even on the road system, it’s still a fair far piece to get to the places that are. We don’t bother with miles, just “It’s five hours to Fairbanks if the road’s open and dry, eight if you’re going the speed limit, twelve if you’re stuck behind an RV, and three if you’re flying without a headwind.” (That’s 360 miles, most of which is two-lane road, where the snow fills in the potholes in winter.)

    Sounds like you could use a 206 for critter transport! Though it’d take more people – one or two to fly, and at least one to convince the critter not to do anything stupid en route.

  38. Lots of places with miles and miles but the highways in Texas are usually in decent condition and well constructed compared to, say, Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska and Colorado. Texas drivers, on the other hand, should be required to stay in Texas during winter months.

  39. A texas cattleman was visiting a new England Farmer. They got to talking about sizes (of course). The Texan asked the farmer how big his farm was. “All the way down to that tree.” To which the Texan replied “I can get in my truck, drive all day and still be on my ranch.” “Ayup, I had a truck like that once.”

  40. The developed area of Houston reaches 54 miles along I-10. 0-dark-thirty on Sunday morning is the best time to cross it.

    Brewster County is right at four million acres, with under 10,000 people–equal in size to Delaware. About 85 miles from my house to the courthouse in Alpine.

    The reason Texas has such good highways is that for some five decades the most powerful man in highway construction was the Junior Inspector on a road job. If the contractor didn’t meet the specifications, it was, “Tear it out and do it right.” The contractors knew that there was no appeal, whine though they might. “Meet spec or die.”


  41. “When I first drove to Texas 2 years ago, I saw a mile marker above 900 on I-10 and almost spilled my coffee. Amazing country it is out here.”

    Okay, I’ll bite!


    If you saw a “900” M/M on I-10 dude, you were seriously high on something.

    I live ritch near the 880…the last M/M crossing into Louisiana on I-10.

    That’d be the west bank of the Sabine River, lol.

  42. Now don't complain. My son drives back and forth from Houston to Canyon (West Texas A&M)several times a year and he still goes out running around with his friends after a ten hour drive. Of course, he is twenty years old and thinks that life is about pushing the limits of endurance. Youth is wasted on the young.

  43. Back in the 70’s, I was enroute to Lackland from Virginia and I was driving straight through without stopping. I was running with a bunch of truckers when we crossed the state line into Texas. I mentioned something over the CB about my trip being almost over and was surprised at the chuckles and laughs coming over the airwaves. Imagine my dismay to realize that I had quite a ways to go before I reached Lackland. Great state. My ex is there.(thats why I’m in VA)

  44. Interesting to read that you lived/grew up in Nigeria! So did I, for nine years. Parents were missionaries, we lived in a small village named Zing.

  45. You were upcountry, over by the Cameroon. We were in a tidal swamp on the Warri River south of Benin.

  46. I myself moved from NE Texas (outside of Dallas) to West Texas (Odessa-Midland area), and I drive back once a month to see my kid.

    I20 is looooong.

    To top that off, I have family down in Brewster county, which is 2.5 hours from me. I visit fairly often.
    If they want to go to Wal Mart, they have a hour drive ahead of them to get to Fort Stockton.

    Distance in Texas is not measured in miles, but in hours.

  47. About 1992 I was in Dallas on business and had to stay over to the next week. My wife’s uncle was a farmer in Madill, OK, so I drove up for Saturday breakfast. When I got back to the office in NY City and mentioned it, several people [who take trains in from CT or Long Island]were surprised that I’d drive 100 miles for breakfast. Then mentioned to them that I’d driven up on Friday afternoon to be sure I could find the restaurant. At the time my 25 mile bus commute from NJ took about 2 hours each way. It was faster to drive to OK for breakfast. And, yes, I’ve driven E – W across Texas a few times.

  48. LawMom: Yep! Right where you said we were. One of our favorite places to go was the Yankari Nat’l. Park. I know that our time there in Nigeria changed my perspective and outlook on life. Such an amazing experience.

    Blessings to you and yours. :o)

  49. Reminds me of driving back from college. Seattle to SF Bay Area (back in the day, before things got wierd). 900 miles each way… and the half-way mark was south of the CA/OR border. Tack another 8 hours onto that to get to LA.

    Y'all want fun? Drive I-5, end to end.

    Though I have proven you can get a Tahoe from Medford to San Jose on one tank of gas. ;>

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