Monday, August 26, 2013

Road Trip: Albuquerque to Near-Dallas, Texas

Date         Stop    Odometer   Location                                       Time

6/21/20130211050Albuquerque, NM7:04 AM
6/21/20131211215Tucumcari, NM9:49 AM
6/21/20132211319Amarillo, TX1:00 PM
6/21/20133211491Vernon, TX4:08 PM
6/21/20134211626Lake Mineral Wells S.P.7:00 PM

From Sara's travel journal:
Friday, June 21, 2013 8:00pm
Lake Mineral Wells State Park, Texas (about 30 miles west of Dallas/Fort Worth)
We woke up pretty early at the hotel in Albuquerque this morning and packed up all of our stuff. We took it out to the car before we enjoyed our complimentary continental breakfast. We ran into some folks that were originally from Iowa. The man went to Davenport Central High School and UNI and was into music, so he and Cory knew a lot of the same people. What a small world! 
We made excellent driving time today. We stopped just outside of Albuquerque so that I could buy a New Mexico magnet, and we had an excellent lunch in Amarillo, Texas. We stopped at a small, diner-sized barbeque restaurant called Doug’s Bar-B-Q. There wasn’t a long line when we got there, and Cory and I had some time to mull over the menu. Finally, Cory had the courage to tell the restaurant owners/staff that we were from Iowa and that this was our first time eating Texas BBQ, and we weren’t sure what to order. He asked for a recommendation, and we took their suggestions. We shared a beef brisket plate that came with cole slaw, potato salad, and baked beans and a “half Barbeque Frito Pie”. The pie was essentially a walking taco that had barbeque sauce and baked beans on it instead of taco seasoning. The ladies told us that Doug's Bar-B-Q was a local, family owned place that had been open since the 1950s.  When we sat down, I saw that on the wall there were several local “best of” awards, so it looks like we chose well for our first Texas BBQ! Lots of locals were in and out as we ate our lunch, and I’m glad we took the time to stop and eat there. Afterwards, we thanked the ladies for their suggestions and went on our way. 
Doug's Bar-B-Q restaurant in Amarillo, Texas
Doug's Bar-B-Q, Amarillo, Texas
Barbeque sandwiches and Frito Pie at Doug's Bar-B-Q in Amarillo, Texas
Our first Texas barbeque.

After lunch we stopped very little, only for gas and restroom breaks. We turned south on Hwy 287 after Amarillo, and although the highway was a very easy, 4 lane route, it went through several small towns, which really made the drive interesting. I was impressed with how great the condition of many of the small towns was—when you drive through towns like that in Iowa, many of them are pretty decayed. We even saw a town that I swear could have been the inspiration for Dillon, TX in Friday Night Lights. The high school football team signs were everywhere, and the football stadium was really large for a town that size. We also noticed a lot of religious signs in the fields and towns as we drove through. 
We made it to the Lake Mineral Wells State Park at around 6:30-7:00pm. It’s a good sized park with a large lake and, from the looks of the map, a decent amount of hiking trail. We won’t really have much time to explore it, but it looks like we could have a fun weekend here if we were planning on it. New Orleans beckons, however, and hotel reservations have been made, so tomorrow we will journey onwards and southeastwards! 
Orange tent, camp chairs, and campfire at Like Mineral Wells State Park, Texas
Our campsite at Lake Mineral Wells State Park 
I made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for our dinner (with jelly that I cleverly swiped from the Country Inn and Suites breakfast bar this morning) while Cory started a fire. It’s actually kind of lucky—we’ve been seeing burn bans all day, including in the neighboring county, but it looks like we are good to go on fires tonight and tomorrow morning. Our plan now is to hang out by the fire and roast some marshmallows before we go to sleep. It is awfully warm right now, and we have returned to more humid climates, so I hope that things cool off some when the sun goes down. We definitely don’t plan on bundling up as much as we had to at our other campsites!

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