The headquarters for our extended weekend in Texas was the little town of Uvalde. It's an hour and change southwest of San Antonio, making it about an hour north of the border. It was a happening place, mostly because it was the opening weekend of deer season, but also because it was harvest time.
It might be November but in South Texas something is growing...and therefore ready for harvest...all year round. We didn't see a lot of fields on the highway between San Antonio and Uvalde, but in some of the small towns we saw what appeared to be heads of lettuce or cabbage along the side of the road, as if they had rolled off passing trucks. And when we asked, we learned that yes, there were big fields of cabbage nearby...and carrots and a host of other things too. So when we had some free time on Sunday afternoon, we set off to ride around the countryside to see what we could see.
That's when we found the pickle shed.
It was a series of small buildings at the side of the road that wouldn't have been of much interest except for the big trucks out front unloading pickle-sized cucumbers...and unloading them in what seemed like a most unusual way. They were using water and I think that's what caught our attention.
I wanted a picture so I got out of the car and approached the man operating the giant hose. Would I violate any safety codes if I walked over by him to take some photos? I asked. He shook his head, motioned me over and then cautioned me to be careful. And then I got a course in pickle washing.
They pick pickles twice a year in Uvalde and in between they travel to Ohio and into Canada to pick pickles. These are mechanically picked which is why they're so dirty. They wash them down out of the truck and into a concrete-lined pool, then they turn the water on from another direction and move them onto a conveyor belt for sorting by size. They don't make the pickles there; just process and pack them for shipment all over the US. And they'll be all different kinds of pickles when they're done. The things you can learn if you just get out of the car.
We tried to find the pickle farms because we wanted to see mechanical pickle-picker-uppers but that was an adventure in itself. We were following an empty pickle truck when a full truck approached from the other direction. As the two trucks passed, pickles flew off the trailer. It was raining pickles! I was just glad one didn't hit the windshield. The hunt was over when the empty truck turned down a dirt road.
That's one of the things I love about traveling...every locale is different with food, landscape, customs and agriculture of its own. It's fun to find out what it is...even if it's pickles.