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Connecticut River Valley, New England, United States

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Ramble Through Texas

Today's pictures--that is to say yesterday's Mar 6--are a bit arse-backwards but once we left Lufkin I got it together. Luckett's Hole in One Cafe is the restaurant in the Lufkin Quality Inn and is quite a nice restaurant with delicious evening meals. We've had something different each of the three times we've stayed there and have never been disappointed. The owner's wife makes all the salad dressings fresh each day. They know their veggies and their chef who, I guess, is more aptly called a cook since he has no formal training, knows exactly how to cook them.

Breakfast , on the other hand, is a different story. The first year we stayed the room was filled with guests and there was a nice menu. ( this is the only choice hotels we've ever stayed at that does not serve a free continental breakfast.) Last year when we came down the owner greeted us by saying his cook had not turned up and so he had  a limited selection. Well, yesterday, we found the same situation. So for $14 I had dry toast, a huge glass of OJ, two slices of bacon and a cup of coffee and Bill had dry toast, two strips of bacon, a potato patty and a scoop of scrambled eggs. And we waited forever for it--I don't think anyone else had come here for breakfast and there certainly was no one there with us. I think he had to fire up the stove for us and then he forgot my bacon--took a few minutes for it to come out and he said, good thing I had this in the oven!  A really nice man so there was no way you could get angry BUT if we come again we must remember to go to the Cotton Patch for breakfast!  I would guess that there must be some condition in the hotel contract that requires them to be open for breakfast but, not being lucrative, I think the service is designed to eliminate customers and allow them to get rid of the need to open before dinner.

(Back from a break, watching Peyton Manning and Jim Irsay officially announcing Peyton's departure from the Colts. Sad but optimistic too.)

That welcome to Lufkin sign is directly across the road from the hotel driveway and on an elevation. Can't tell you how many times I've tried to get a decent picture of it. This is the best and the last attempt.

Left on 59 south because I let Bill pick the route to Temple. Stopped at a rest area and while waiting for Bill  I saw this old guy, so crippled he couldn't straighten up or walk without leaning on the car and his cane, get from behind the wheel of the car next to us!  I don't know, of course, how stiff or how much pain he suffers but I do know that the way my legs have been lately that I could not drive without serious difficulty--or at least with less than speedy reaction time. How is it that he drove here from Ohio? People wonder why I don't enjoy driving anymore--trucks, crippled drivers etc. Too crazy.

We came to a large rest area and stopped, hoping to get an official Texas map but it was brand new, and though the rest rooms were all set up the desk where the info stuff will be given out by a clerk was not. Eventually, there appeared a tourist info sign and we came to a chamber of commerce for some town. Bill went in and obtained an official map---so, I'm back in business!!!!!! Hooray---farm roads here we come!

At Livingston we picked up 190 again and headed toward Huntsville, passing by Lake Livingston. It was interesting to see how the low causeway protects one side of the Lake from the wind. The Lake and the sky with its clouds just made such a pretty view I just could not resist taking lots of shots. We'd watched the little cumulus clouds that line the edge of a front approaching as we moved South out of Lufkin. Now they were consolidating into larger masses of cloud and the wind was rising.

I've been on this road before--Barb, this is the road we took from La to Round Rock. I didn't get to see Sam Houston's grave this time, either. Bill didn't think I wanted to go and, if you remember, Huntsville traffic is heavy, especially at lunch time. I'll get there someday!

Henderson King Yoakum (September 6, 1810 – November 30, 1856) was a Texas historian. He was born in Claiborne County, Tennessee, and graduated from West Point in 1832. Yoakum served in the Tennessee Senate from 1839 to 1845 and strongly advocated for the annexation of Texas. Yoakum served as the director of the state penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas, beginning in 1849. In 1846, Yoakum authored a two-volume work entitled History of Texas from Its First Settlement in 1685 to Its Annexation to the United States in 1846. An 1805-1819 map of Spanish Texas is found at the front of the text. Yoakum County, Texas, established in 1876, was named after him.

Just thought you might be as curious as I as to why, in addition to Sam Houston flags--he did live and die in Huntsville--they would have some dedicated to Henderson Yoakum. So now we know!  LOL

Texas is very proud of its history and there are many historical signs and monuments on all of its roads. We like them and, if the road is quiet enough we stop and read them aloud. It depends on whose side the sign appears as to who does the reading. Bill got Hillary and I got the Baptist Church. It is interesting to see the old names--I thought Hillary would be a woman. Maybe a double L is male and a single one, a female?

We noted that we had left the piney woods of the Big Thicket pretty much behind and were now entering the Texas Hill Country. We also noted the lack of traffic on 75 as we glanced across fields at the trucks and traffic on I 45 which paralleled our path to Madisonville. We passed through its historic downtown but did not find it particularly worth lingering.

Shortly out of town we came to a corner on which an oil well sat idle and here we turned onto our first Farm Road of our Texas trek. FR 1452, which came to a T with 39 toward Normangee. On the map 1452 ends here but farther up 39 it turned to the left and I was tempted to go with it. Yet, one is never sure what direction a FR may go so we proceeded to the intersection with OSR--the Old San Antonio Road. Here we found a pink marble monument which was very difficult to read. I don't know if you will have the option to magnify it but if you do and are interested it is quite easy to read when enlarged. Basically, it is one of many El Camino Real that are found in old Spanish West. It was blazed in 1691 by a Catholic priest and explorer and connected the missions in San Antonio with those in East Texas.

This part of Texas is mostly cattle for one guy is making his money from both cattle and oil. That is a big rig--a true derrick. While there are many Black Angus and Hereford here there are also quite a few Brahman. Bill says they are meat animals too but are probably used for breeding purposes as well. Originally from India they are tolerant of drought conditions and are able to survive on sparse grazing grasses. Something desperately needed in recent years. The drought has done a job on grains which in turn has caused a shortage of feed which in turn has caused the starvation of my head of cattle. I did see one herd that looked rather skeletal. Even as a bio teacher I sometimes forget these interconnecting chains in the web of life!

As we continued out of Normangee, by the way,1452 came in from the left so I guess I should have ventured more bravely--but then I would have missed the pink rock! On we continued to Wheelock and more history. Wonder how old those buildings are--sometimes what looks really ancient is just weathered by the elements and not very old at all. I really loved the double verandered building at the beginning of FR 391 and it was for sale, too. Also they are improving 391 so it wouldn't be as rural as one would think. Actually, not happy to see them widening the road--I love the old, narrow ones but the FR are for the most part wide and smooth. Just travelled only by the locals and therefore pretty empty and that is great.

I must say, that though that long ago welcome to Texas sign said drive Texas style--friendly,it didn't say that the speed limit is for the most part 70 and that the locals all drive 90!  Friendly and fast! And when they have to hit their brakes as they come around the curve upon those pokey old Vermonters they nicely flick their headlights instead of giving you a heart attack by laying on the horn.

Crossing over the tracks and looking down we saw the little burg of Hearne. The name seemed so familiar but I just figured, since 190 runs through it, that I just remembered it from a prior trip. Even the sign to Camp Hearne didn't ring a bell until we came to FR 485 and went by its entrance. Made Bill turn back and we came to the visitor's center only to find it is opened Wed-Sat! There isn't actually very much to see of the camp but what we could see anyway--but the film and museum would have been interesting. You might note the warnings about going out to the Officers' area and the remains of the fountains and theatres the prisoners built. Chiggers, mosquitoes, fire ants, poisonous snakes, boar, stray dogs to say nothing of poison ivy!  A film would suit me fine. The place is operated by a local outfit but, I imagine, as money allows, those things will become more easily accessible. This is the second WW II camp I've seen--the first was Tule, Ca which was a Japanese internment camp. One thing for sure--they were isolated. Even so Nazi prisoners were able to develop a communication system and the names of Anti-Nazi prisoners were relayed so that they would get their just rewards when the war was over and they all returned to the Vaterland. I guess it is ever true, when there's a will, there's a way.

As the day came to a close we arrived at Rt 53, soon to become Adams Av and the road into Temple. A couple of quick turns and we arrived at the Quality Inn. Checked in and then headed over to Texas Roadhouse for Prime Rib. Delicious meal, at the end of a tiring day.

Today we are remaining in Temple. The sky is overcast and it rains periodically, though the wind seems to have died down. Decided it was a perfect day to hole up and take it easy. Catch up on laundry, blogging and reading. Bill is watching some of the Big East Tournament--UConn vs W.Virginia. The winner of this game plays Syracuse, a Bill fav, tomorrow.

So, I'll say good bye for now. Think I'll redo my nails and wash my hair--not necessarily in that order. Chinese order in sounds good for dinner--haven't had Chinese food in ages. The manager here is Chinese so hopefully there is a bit of a community and the restaurant is good.

The plan tomorrow is Big Springs and then  New Mexico the following day. So Gloria and Bud---about three, maybe four days and we'll be there. Will call from wherever we wind up in NM to give you some lead time. Will that work?

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