Welcome to the

Random words, pictures and thoughts of one who always wishes to be on the mind's road to discovery!

About Me

My photo
Connecticut River Valley, New England, United States

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Another Beautiful Texas Day

Hello from the heart of Texas, Trekkers! Today began with one of the worst motel breakfasts EVER! The hash browns were palatable, though not a favorite of mine for breakfast, but kielbasa passed off as morning sausage really doesn't cut it for me. I'm afraid most of the meal found its way into the circular file. Coffee was passable. In some ways not eating breakfast made the veal masala I had for early dinner at 3 pm even more delicious. Today we headed toward Early-Brownwood which Bill told me was 400 miles away. That didn't seem right but he uses the map graph and I don't usually bother with it. I just navigate, never determine distance until it is getting late and we have to make a decision about where to light for the night. So off we went, Bill driving like there was no tomorrow. Within four miles I espied an unusual figure in a passing in a blur cemetery. There was construction congestion ahead, so when Bill offered to turn around and go back I, irritated said don't bother, and picked up the newspaper. He grunted and said okay, we aren't going as far as Brownwood. I said if all I'm going to see are blurry trees and fleeing birds for 400 miles I might as well read the paper. The snit lasted about ten miles when Bill pulled over for the first hysterical sign and life returned to normal. Thank goodness, the few flare-ups we have are short lived and soon forgotten ( though I really wanted to see that thing in the cemetary! AND, I found it in a web search and the last four pix are of this incredible chrome life sized angel with her body arched and head thrown back as the wind blows her hair and wings behind her. I would have loved to have seen her for myself but I know where she is for the future.) At any rate we continued on toward Corsicana, which Bill kept calling Corsica! We could have gone to Navarro or Italy, too. Eventually, we saw what looked like a dam off to the left but no water on our side of it. We turned onto the road that ran before it and indeed there was water coming slowly through it and there was a basin of water that narrowed down to the original width of the river or stream that was being dammed. Birds were way down at the base of the dam near the trickling water and signs were all over making it perfectly clear that the Tarrant Water Bureau meant business if anyone thought they'd like to mess with the area. We had passed an entrance to Richland Creek Wildlife Management Area and returned to check it out. Obviously, waterfowl hunting is a major activity here and there are signs instructing the hunters to form in single file to register and to park in designated areas. All kinds of regs for hunting use, but since it was deserted but for a couple of rangers we figured we could explore with impunity--and so we did! The place was huge,but Bill had not gotten gas in Palestine, planning on getting it in Corsicana, and we did not want to run the risk of getting stranded in the middle of nowhere so we only covered half of it. He offered to return after gassing up but though I love these places, as does he, we still had many miles to cover and there might be more things along the way where we'd want to linger. I was happy with the birds I photographed--ducks of many species, all unknown to us, a couple of great blue herons and several snowy egrets. The hawk was skittish and got away from me. LOL Continuing on, we found the reservoir being held back by the dam was considerable in size and had many macmansions all along the shore. We assume it is a source of water for Dallas-Fort Worth since we were basically traveling west just south of them. Our next historical sign commemorates a poet of whom we'd not heard. But I love his poem " I Own a Home". I think anyone who does, especially if the mortgage is paid, could relate to his sentiments. I must look him up--500 published poems--he started at the age of 15. Not really deep, or self-consciously intellectual, but simple everyday thought in this one. Enough imagery for me, too. I'm sure you all realize that Texas is a huge State ( the map is almost as big--what a pain to fold and unfold without blocking the whole windshield ). As a result it is difficult to show all the roads that exist here on the map without it becoming a mash up of lines all converging at places with no way to determine where to turn to get the one you want to follow out of the snarl. In Corsicana we had to pick up 22 and on the map it appeared, with some imagination, that one would follow 31 for half a breath and then turn onto 22. That was the plan and sure enough as our road began to rise to go above something a sign for 31 appeared suddenly on the right. I directed Bill to it, hoping it led to 22 but nothing really indicated that. The turn took us to the underpass, not visible from our original path, and there the signs said oh, by the way, here's 31 and it goes to 22! Sometimes, I think these places do these things to drive outsiders crazy. Anyway, off we went through downtown, headed to Barry et al. I just loved the station for lease with the tank and spiral staircase--kind of pretty in a way--but the real laugh came from " Your name here!" So, any of you, looking for a nice place to put your name--there you go. There are some lovely places of worship in this burg. Don't ask the denominations--caught them on the fly--but found them unique and beautiful. Even the Masonic Temple had lovely designs along the roof line. The last house in the series of pix for this town is for sale--quite a beauty. Another historical sign--yet again showing the transience of the human existence. Not a bit of evidence this place ever existed. Where are the people buried. Did they move out with the railroad toward Hillsboro? How come they changed the name of the town-- Bill said the engineer was the only one who would marry Sloan's daughter so Sloan gave up Sloan's Spur for him. I said Sloan didn't have any kids and the townsfolk thought their future lay with the railroad so they tried to butter up the engineer. No matter--town's gone, railroad's gone, people are gone. By the way, we have traveled many, many of the farm and county roads in this area and so decided to take the more direct roads today, so that we would see new places. I loved that we were going through Barry--told Bill it was named for my Grandmother Brown who was a Barry right from Ireland. Not true, of course, though she did drive cross country with Grandpa when they moved from Jamaica, Queens to Los Angeles. Doubt that they came this way, but who knows? Anyway, not much to Barry, TX! Nor to Frost which followed a few miles later. Are you enjoying my collection of water towers? I decided they'd be my focus this year--lol The weather is really strange this year and though it has been good for planting this early, the farmers are leery--so the cotton fields are looking good but nothing planted yet. I've never seen a tank farm before--but that's what this field of probably 50 tanks was labeled. No company name and they are surrounded by shallow moats as though to catch spills but they are so clean and there are no wells visible or noticeably smelly so not positive they are for oil--though they have that look. Very clean with lots of pipes and valves entering the bottom. A back road mystery. Approaching Mertens, which is just another spot in the road with a couple of houses and some empty stores, you could see way down the straightaway a huge building--the Baptist Church! We've experienced this so many times on these back roads--huge Church, gigantic parking lot and nothing for miles around. Yet, we've come through on Sunday and the lot is packed. Amazing--they are out there somewhere. As you can see, the roads here are either straight as a die or curving as can be--both within a couple of miles. Up around a curve and there's a barn right on the crest in front of you, down around a curve and here come two wide loads right at you with no lead car to warn you they'll be there. Did I mention the speed limit is 70 on straightaways and 60-65 on curves and these guys do that! If they come up on you they tailgate and push--Bill pulls over as often as possible. Lots of sheep and goats, too. A few years ago, during the drought many cattlemen diversified to these animals. They sell the goats to Middle Easterners who eat goat meat and of course there is cheese and goat's milk, as well as wool from the sheep. The old time cattlemen must be spinning. Goats and sheep graze by pulling the plants from the soil--clears them out pretty well, that's why some people use goats to get rid of weeds. Cattle on the other hand mow the plants--leaving the roots of the pasture continues to grow. We passed through Hillsboro with its beautiful courthouse and square and back into the country and another dam. This time we actually drove on top of it. This was at the town of Whitney and it forms Lake Whitney. At this point we were south of Fort Worth and north of Waco. Bill stopped to get gas and I looked more closely at the map. 400 miles?? I don't know what he read, but we were only about 100 miles from Early and had gone about 100 miles!!! I showed Bill and we decided that we would, of course go as far as Early-Brownwood. But, again the roads in Texas are interesting. At Meredith we could take route 6 north about 40 miles then swing down to Comanche and on to Early or we could continue on 22 about 40 miles and cut across to Zephyr and up to Early. The latter would save us quite a bit of time and mileage. We've traveled the Hamilton, Priddy, Zephyr road before but we've also done the northern swing. Bill opted for the Farm Route and I like it, too. Meredith is on the Northern edge of Texas Hill Country. This is, I think, my favorite part of Texas. I love the cedars, the cattle in the cedars, the prickly pear cactus scattered among the trees and I love the roller coaster roads. I'm quite fond of sections of West Texas, too and the Gulf Coast. Meredith has a beautiful courthouse as well that can be seen as you come rolling over the hills into town. Cranfills Gap also reminds one that this part of Texas was heavily settled by Germans and often the sign entering town says Wilkommen rather than welcome; and, though there is probably a Baptist Church, the larger and more elaborate one is Lutheran and named St Olaf. Black Angus and Hereford again appear on the range, though goats and sheep are present,too; and, of course, horses. Hamilton, not to be outdone by Hillsboro or Meredith, also has a magnificent courthouse. All along in the West, towns have these huge and beautiful government buildings. Often, in areas that are flat, they stand out for miles on the horizon. Just architectural gems of a by-gone era. The weather has been so beautiful the golfers were out in force and here, unlike Alabama, the grass is green. I must have 20 pictures of the Priddy welcome sign. I laughed out loud the first year I saw it--Pirates??? Dear God, where is the nearest water??? Not only that, the sign is bigger than the place! But, it is a favorite landmark and I love it everytime I see it. Along this road, too, are Pottsville and Indian Gap. I didn't take pictures this time--they are heart-breaking. Broken down deserted houses. Pottsville has a big fairly modern school--one floor with a big auditorium attached. Empty, broken and boarded up windows and a roof that has caved in and seems to have fallen deeper into the building each time we pass through. Indian Gap has an old school--20's or 30's, I'd say. Three stories, brick, square, with a basement and an attic---it looks like an empty shell with rectangular eyes where the windows used to be. Too sad to document each time. But then we arrive in Zephyr, with its adorable little Church and the Gospel Tabernacle that looks as though ladies in dimity dresses and floral hats and white shoes and gloves will soon arrive with the men in their shiny serge suits with white shirts and polished shoes and fedora or straw hats. You can almost hear them singing and watch them swaying in the open sided shelter. Or, maybe not, maybe too much Hollywood and Francis Parkinson Keyes or Truman Capote or someone. Ah, I don't care--they walk down the street to their shaded porches for lemonade and sweet tea and hummingbird cake and visit after the service and the breeze blows and cools them off. Us, we continue up the road to Early and stop at Prima Pasta for an early dinner. Bill has a cold beer in a big bulb of a glass, I have a glass of pinot grigio. We laugh with the waitresses and the cook and a waiter--all eating a meal that smells heavenly and looks better. I ask the cook what it is--pasta, veggies and beef strips in a cream sauce. Is it on the menu, I ask and he says, no! He made it special for the help!!! Oh, no. But I order Veal Marsala and Bill orders Sausage Pizziaoli and we get the newly baked Italian bread that is so good it doesn't need butter and we are both in heaven. Anytime we are close enough to Early we stay here so that we can eat at this restaurant. I've never had better Italian food. And everything I've eaten here has been delicious and filling. Desert? You are kidding, right??? The Comfort Inn is right next door--they almost share a parking lot. We've stayed here so often they upgraded us before we even arrived to a suite. $85/night! The young girl asked if I minded and I very graciously replied " not at all, thank you!" LOL Tomorrow, we are going to check out the Train Depot in Brownwood. It has an original Harvey Girls restaurant in it--I don't know if they serve any meals there but I'm going to go online now to find out. If so, I'm hoping we'll have breakfast there. I've read books about the Santa Fe Railroad and the string of restaurants along the line and the girls who worked there. We've been to so many towns where the restaurants were but only a few still exist--just the buildings--not usually restaurants anymore. There is one in Winslow, Arizona and we have eaten there. Gloria tells me there is one, though not a restaurant anymore, in Belen and I hope we will visit it on this trip. At any rate, I'll fill you all in tomorrow night--we'll probably be in Roswell, NM --unless, we find something else to linger over. Until then, good night to you all. KandB

No comments:

Post a Comment