Based in Williamson County, Texas, WHY ARE Y'ALL HERE? is a travelog by Spencer Darr. His posts explore Texas counties through photos, maps, music, videos, writing, and--most importantly--interviews with local residents about why we are where we are. Y'all enjoy!

We Yurted: A Journey to the Center of Texas

We Yurted: A Journey to the Center of Texas

“While there is life there is hope. I beg to assert...that as long as a man’s heart beats, as long as a man’s flesh quivers, I do not allow that a being gifted with thought and will can allow himself to despair.”
— Jules Verne, Journey to the Center of the Earth

Does a state have a heartbeat? Does Texas have a soul? While the blackness of its soul is debateable, as is its whiteness, its heart is not with its slow beating red rural counties, its blue urban palpitations, its pulsating purple suburbs. I don't know how well the Texas heart would do on a stress test, but it definitely has one. As to where that heart resides, welp, that seems to be debateable as well, although the McColloch County seat of Brady, TX has staked its claim.  

 Where's your stethoscope? Damn it Jim, I'm a writer, not a doctor!

Where's your stethoscope? Damn it Jim, I'm a writer, not a doctor!

On the way to the courthouse driving through neighborhoods and past businesses in Brady, one can see the heart plastered all over everything from store fronts to garbage cans sitting out on the curb. (I didn't get any shots of that because, well, its a residential neighborhood and I didn't want to bother people and I'm not getting shot over shooting a garbage can with a cartoon heart logo on it in someone's front yard...although that would make a helluva story...hmmm...I need a zoom lense and/or a bulletproof vest...or maybe I should be more proactive about this whole deal and buy m' own damn gun.)

 I felt both proud and lied to all at the same time. Growing up for a few years in Waco, I went to the Heart of Texas fair  there a couple of times as a kid. Somebody is full of shit, here, and it is either Brady or Waco? Or maybe the heart of Texas is so big, you can find parts of it in every county <3

I felt both proud and lied to all at the same time. Growing up for a few years in Waco, I went to the Heart of Texas fair  there a couple of times as a kid. Somebody is full of shit, here, and it is either Brady or Waco? Or maybe the heart of Texas is so big, you can find parts of it in every county <3

Although human hearts are a little left of sternum, Texas' heart is dead center, or so this beautifully sculpted, humungous hunk of stone lead us to believe. We decided to head northeast in search of the center.

 We found it! (Chelsey took this photo.)

We found it! (Chelsey took this photo.)

There it is, in all of its scrolled glory. If you look closely toward the bottom of the sign, you can see where somebody crashed or backed into it and they welded it back together.

You can also see that we are still 5 miles away from the actual center. Honestly, I think somebody got pissed and decided to intentionally run over the sign after searching for the center of Texas only to find that you can't actually get to it: the geographic center of Texas is on private property. I researched the center of Texas and ran into a confusing dead end: while the Texas Almanac puts the "geographic" center pretty close to where the sign says it is outside of Brady,  "the Texas Society of Professional Surveyors — measuring by satellite the exact distance between the state’s four borders — places the “geodetic” center of Texas 18.5 miles west-southwest of Eden."  Geographic, geodetic, I really just wanted to stand in the center of Texas and contemplate the spacious grandeur of this magnificence state and have m'self a blissful little existential crisis/spiritual awakening, but no. Of course, in true Texas-fashion, the actual location of the heart of Texas is privatized. Just like the heart-logo festooned garbage bins in Brady, I would get shot and/or arrested for tresspassing for searching any further for the center of Texas. Fuck it, we have a yurt to stay in, so we sauntered the truck on down TX Highway 337 toward Abilene State Park.

 Brown County, brown grass. In all fairness, it is still technically "winter."

Brown County, brown grass. In all fairness, it is still technically "winter."

 Cute small town highschool football stadium in the background, probably for a 6-man team.

Cute small town highschool football stadium in the background, probably for a 6-man team.

 Good thing it's not a school day, or, as seems to be a theme on this journey, I might get shot by the Home Ec teacher. Oh, believe me, she's packin', too. Movin' along!

Good thing it's not a school day, or, as seems to be a theme on this journey, I might get shot by the Home Ec teacher. Oh, believe me, she's packin', too. Movin' along!

 Nothing says Coleman County Line like a little bit of buckshot through the sign :)

Nothing says Coleman County Line like a little bit of buckshot through the sign :)

 Not sure what ham has to do with the jokes, but alright.

Not sure what ham has to do with the jokes, but alright.

 I'm guessing that rectangular pile of stones is a tomb of the unknown pioneer?

I'm guessing that rectangular pile of stones is a tomb of the unknown pioneer?

 Oh, oh! Pulled a U-ee for this one, it's a turtle! Please be alive, please be alive...

Oh, oh! Pulled a U-ee for this one, it's a turtle! Please be alive, please be alive...

 A little camera shy, but definately alive. I love creatures. &lt;3

A little camera shy, but definately alive. I love creatures. <3

 Missed the sign on the way in to Taylor, this is on the Nolan county line, hence the wind farm.

Missed the sign on the way in to Taylor, this is on the Nolan county line, hence the wind farm.

 We made it!

We made it!

 That, my friends, is a yurt.

That, my friends, is a yurt.

 Interior lighting...fan-cy pants!

Interior lighting...fan-cy pants!

 It even has a wooden door...no tent like apparatus I've ever camped in has had a wooden door. Or a microwave. Or a mini fridge. Can I just live here?

It even has a wooden door...no tent like apparatus I've ever camped in has had a wooden door. Or a microwave. Or a mini fridge. Can I just live here?

First Shots, Lone Wild Flowers, and The Big Tree Near the Beach

First Shots, Lone Wild Flowers, and The Big Tree Near the Beach

Living on Edge and Discovering What Remains of Wealthy

Living on Edge and Discovering What Remains of Wealthy