In East Texas, it’s hard to predict which road is going to swallow up another.
Sun Hill Road, badly deteriorated and long closed, stretches across a stretch of grass. But the dead-end curve at Dead Stick Road is now considered an extension of it. Dead Stick Road ends in an emerald rolling hillside with houses packed tightly in.
A handful of young men parked around the edge of the winding stretch of Dead Stick Road next to sun trees and an electric fence in the middle of a bedding-down lot. Their car was parked on a lawn. Men working on the signs said they needed to sand down the concrete base of the road to prevent it from rusting in winter.
They ran back and forth over a cement layer of dry sand and left the cars where they were, leaning on the shoulder as workers moved in for the house that occupied one of the buildings.
A sign on a nearby road warns that the road is covered with salt and that drivers should leave the designated access when you have to. For miles, Sun Hill Road has been closed by at least one crew of cowboy construction workers fixing up the dangerous dirt road.
The empty lots up and down the road did not seem to deter drivers.
If traffic is the enemy of the roads, Sun Hill Road seems to encourage it. In the shade of a live oak, a man looked at the empty lots. “We ain’t getting no tourists,” he said. A dog scurried under the shrubs at his feet.
In the window of the building across the way from his, a sign for “Tackle Potatoes” and a pump sign for a man-made spring. He said he worked a farm in Grand Prairie. “We built this road in eight weeks,” he said.
He seemed sure he would find someone to cut the concrete, scrape it down. “Just drive fast. I think we got it,” he said.