which began when a force of Texansnswarmed up the Rio Grande with thencry “On to San Francisco!” Now, Inhave to say that the plan to capturenCalifornia’s gold and unblockadednports strikes me as awfully ambitious.nI’d just driven from the Bay Area andnknew in my posterior how far away itnwas. Still, the campaign did begin well,nwith a victory over the Colorado Volunteersnat Valverde.nI didn’t realize the present hostilitynbetween Texans and Coloradans wentnback so far, but at Valverde a Coloradonofficer rallied his troops with the cry,n”They’re Texans, boys! Give ’emnhell!” It didn’t work, though, and thenrebs raised their flag over Santa Fe onnMarch 5, 1862, before losing a battle,nand the campaign, at Glorieta. (A longnretreat through the desert back to Texasncost more lives than combat had: 500nof the 3,700 Confederate troops werenbattle casualties; 1,200 died from “other”ncauses.) The exhibit in Santa Fendisplayed wedding rings found in anrecently opened mass Confederatengrave at Glorieta, and informed us thatnhigh-tech methods matching bonensamples with tissue from known descendantsnmake it likely that the bonesnwill be identified and returned to Texasnfor burial.nAnyway, after the glitz of Santa Fenwe went on, with some relief, to LasnVegas, New Mexico, 60 miles up thenSanta Fe trail, and not glitzy in thenleast — in fact, a little on the seedy side.nLas Vegas had its high point when thenrailroad came through in the late 19thncentury, as dozens of once splendidnhouses attest, and there you can seenwhat is left of a real wild West townn(where outlaws were hanged by thenscore from the local windmill) withnlittle subsequent overlay and apparentlynno hope of attracting the touristntrade. Aside from an endless motorcadenthrough town for a returningnDesert Storm veteran, nothing muchnwas happening in Las Vegas. It lookednas if nothing much had happened for anlong time.nFrom Las Vegas to Tucumcari isn106 miles, and we counted every singlenone because we made the mistake ofnbeginning with only a quarter-tank ofngas. The New Mexico highlands arenbeautiful, in a desolate sort of way, andnthey were damn near deserted. In thenentire stretch we saw only six other carsn42/CHRONICLESnand one gas station (and it was closed).nWe passed gates opening on dirt roadsnleading to out-of-sight ranch houses;none sign said “House 16 miles.” Butnwe made it to Tucumcari, refueled,nand drove northeast to Dalhart, Texas,na charmless place surrounded by cattlefeednlots and right aromatic when thenwind is right, which it was. The nativesnwere friendly, though, in what seemedna Texas sort of way — or was I imaginingnthings? Anyway, after a whole yearnin California without going near a hotntub I figured it was all right now that Inwas back in the Old Confederacy, so Insoaked the travel off of me at thenSuper-8 Motel. Felt good, too.nThe next morning found us in thentown of Guymon, capital of a patch ofnground known as “No-Man’s-Land”nbecause at one dme neither Texas nornOklahoma claimed it. Oklahomanblinked first, and got it. Guymon wasnthe heart of the Dust Bowl, and Inthought once again of the Okies andntheir Great Trek. It’s a hell of a tripneven now, in an air-conditioned PlymouthnVoyager. We soon crossed intonKansas, arriving at the town of Liberal,nproud home of both the Shrove TuesdaynPancake Race and “Oztoberfest,”nwhen people dress up like charactersnfrom the Oz books. Somehow wenknew we’d reached the Midwest.nThe next day we explored the ruinsnof Kansas City, a grand early 20thcenturynAmerican city, lingering at itsnsplendid Great War memorial and museum,ndedicated by General Pershingnand Marshall Foch when we thoughtnwar had been ended, but now rathernodd in its attenhon to that unmemorablenconflict. Kansas City’s best daysnmay be behind it, but it is still a famousnbarbecue town, and I was perplexed toneat barbecue as good as I’ve evernhad — in a place that was all wrong.nKG Masterpiece is a restaurant —ndefinitely not a joint—located in ansuburban shopping center and ownednby an M.D. It sells its sauce in supermarketsnnationwide, serves Buffalonchicken wings and Monterey salad,nand violates neady all of Vince Staten’snrules for good barbecue. (For instance:na good place has flies. If there are nonflies, you should ask what the fliesnknow that you don’t.) But, my, it wasngood. That supermarket sauce is greatn(try it), but the meat was memorable.nMy beef brisket was merely wonderful.nnnbut my wife’s pork tenderloin wasnsublime. She wouldn’t trade me neariynenough of it. The next day we went tonArthur Bryant’s, over by the old ballpark,na barbecue mecca ever sincenCalvin Trillin wrote it up. Its atmospherenis 100 percent correct, and it is angreat joint with fine pork barbecue —nbut it’s not as good as KG Masterpiece.nFrom KC onward the trip got lessnexotic as we went on through Missourinto North Carolina, via Ohio (don’tnask), so I’ll cut this short. What I wantnto know, though, is this: how cannanyone travel this continent and believenthat regional differences are unimportant?nShoot, my distant kinsman PeternTaylor wrote a whole novel {Summonsnto Memphis)—and John Hiatt a greatnsong (“Memphis in the Meantime”)n— about the difference between Nashvillenand Memphis. You want to talknabout Holbrook, or Dalhart, or Liberal?nGood Lord. No, America onlynlooks uniform when viewed from farnaway — from the coasts, or fromn30,000 feet in the air. Up close, itnremains a delightful hodgepodge.nAttentive longtime readers will noticenthat John Shelton Reed has a newncar. He thought it was Americanmade,nbut learned too late that it wasnassembled in Canada.nLetter FromnNew Yorknby Murray N. RothbardnLong Hot Summer, LongnCold WinternViolence in New York seems to havenescalated to a new dimension. It used tonbe that ethnic violence would erupt innthe hot summers, to subside in thenwinters when those folks who live theirnlives in the street withdraw indoors for Rn& R. Now, however, at this writing innmidwinter, violence has taken hold innthe winter as well.nThe first thing that a non-NewnYorker must understand about streetnviolence is that, at least in those drearyn”outer boroughs” outside of Manhattann