We are now on day … 5? It is Monday and we got up early to clear out of Bonham and drive west on Hwy 82 toward Amarillo. We won’t go all the way, but will stop south of Vernon in Copper Breaks State Park. It started out just fine, temp in the mid 70’s, road was straight and easy, passing right through some small towns along the way. For the second day in a row I kept seeing little donut shops, but there was no easy way to stop and park, so my hunger for some local donuts is yet to be satisfied. Many of these dusty towns look empty and abandoned, the brick storefronts and porches boarded up and in disrepair. What a shame, as the towns back home would die for such cool architecture for their downtown scene.
One of the towns we did make a stop in: St. Jo. This was a very cool, big and empty town square with absolutely nothing open but lots of historic storefronts. Man, I would love to have had a coffee in their cafe or some tacos in the Windmill Grill. My brother will be excited to learn that Secondhand Lions was playing at the local movie theater, but it was definitely closed (maybe since the premier?) The town was a stop on the Chisholm Trail, the route of the famous livestock drive north, and before crossing the Red River valley, the cowboys would resupply and recharge at the shops and saloons in town.
We determined that Wichita Brewing in Wichita Falls would be a perfect stop for lunch, but Mondays are no good with breweries – nearly all are closed, as was this one. But wait? There is a brewery in Nocona, according to a billboard. But sadly it was also closed. We passed it in town, a cute place in part of a boot factory. Sigh. Ah well, next town.
The prairies and bottomlands of the Red River valley continue, with junipers and oaks sprinkling the grassland. Starting to see the oil pumps and wind turbines as we go along. The horizon is flat and vast around us. The temperature is starting to climb into the 90’s and by the time we get to the state park it is 104. Good thing we are stopping for the day. Campground is a nice flat, open area amid red rock valleys along a small reservoir. It is a Dark Sky site, so we shall see what we can film tonight if it is clear. The moon has been pretty full, so that might make it less dark.
So, a question for you: what do North Texans do for fun when it is 104 degrees? They have their kids run cross country! I kid you not, there is a meet happening in the park and through the campground. These kids are dropping like flies! Looks like middle and high school students, boys and girls, and they are awesome for doing this. The radio confirmed this is the hottest day of the year, but we should get a cold front tonight and temps should go down to 85.
Well, my effort to upload and publish the previous blog page was not successful at Bonham, but I was able to work off the tailgate at the Copper Breaks HQ building with pesky flies biting my ankles and got it published. I am sure there are some wacky errors and the photos didn’t get placed the way I wanted, but it was hot, and you get what you get. Next one should be better.
Oh, I did manage to see a roadrunner cross the road in front of me … cool stuff, but I couldn’t get the camera out fast enough! They are on my list, however, so I will keep trying. As the sun set, we watched an armadillo move across the campsite, but run in terror when Kodi came out on the leash. As fast as they can run, I am surprised so many end up roadkill. We sat out at night to watch the night sky, but the bright full moon that rose made it tough to see much more than Jupiter, Saturn and Venus (which were pointed out to us by fellow campers with a telescope).
Next day our goal was Amarillo, Texas, which was about 3 hours or so northwest. It was a windy night and we were hoping for a change in the weather and woke to – can you believe it – 67 degrees! The entire drive to Amarillo stayed breezy and 70 degrees, over 30 degrees less than the day before. Nice.
So the trip was across flat plains, pastures of horses and cattle and farm fields of cotton and soybeans. We made a stop at a beautiful rest area that had great views of the landscape. Oh, and the pet walk area had some clear warnings for critters. Umm, are you sure we should be walking the dog here?
Speaking of crazy signs, as we left the Texas town of Memphis a bright yellow sign warned “Hitchhikers May Be Escaped Inmates” … really? Bad enough that it might happen once, but if you have to print up and post a sign about it, maybe you need to check your security.
We saw a golden eagle soaring over the fields and plenty of tumbleweed bits blew across the highway, so it was definitely an all-Texas drive. More small towns that we drove through that seemed barely hanging on. Amarillo, however, has plenty of everything along I-40, including a spot that called out to tourists big time. Naturally, we had to eat a late lunch of ribs, brisket and prime rib and enjoy a 10 glass sampler of beer at Big Texan Brewery and Steakhouse. The beer was good, but frankly we have some better choices back home.
Oh, and no visit to Amarillo would be complete without stopping at a cornfield to admire the Cadillac Ranch – an installation of Cadillacs face into the ground. There had to be more than a dozen cars of tourists pulled off the road to have a look, paint a bit and take selfies. Of course we did the same. A can of paint was being shared around so we added “D&J” to the car – which will likely be covered up again soon. Fun.
We will pull out of the Ft. Amarillo RV park in the morning and make our way to Santa Fe, New Mexico. That is going to be a long drive of almost 300 miles, so we want to get an early start. We got a phone message that the next spot at Hyde Memorial Park is out of water and power until later in October. We knew there would be no water, but the electric was a surprise. Ah well, we shall see how well the next 4 days go.
Thank you for all the great comments! More adventures to come.