Monday, May 9, 2011

Texas Re-Route

We are at a rest area on US 287, about 20 miles southeast of Clarendon, TX. This is an enormous, clean and well-lit facility. Along with the usual tourist information brochures, the building is full of historical displays, wild west murals, gorgeous tile work, and a small, staffed sheriff's office. It seems to be the pride of Donley County. There certainly isn't much else in Donley County.

Today's drive moved us from the high desert of New Mexico into the flatlands of the Texas Panhandle. I like the Great Plains, but they don't make for particularly interesting freeway driving. However, the long descent down the eastern side of the Continental Divide does make for better fuel mileage. I'm also more comfortable with higher speeds on the long, straight stretches. Also? Nothing broke on the bus.

In Alburquerque, we stopped just long enough to pick up a no-contract VirginMobile Mifi, so I should have better connectivity from now on.

Just after the NM/TX border, we stopped at a picnic area for a break, and I was able to read my text messages. Sean had talked to our leadership in Washington, DC, and it seems that I will probably be needed further south than Memphis. So I've been re-routed for now toward Jackson, MS. The timing couldn't have been better: we were still west of Amarillo, where US 287 angles southeast toward Dallas and eventually I-20.

After looking at the map, we decided that our best dinner options were in Amarillo, and we set our sights on one of several Italian restaurants along our route. The GPS suggested a local place on the western edge of town in a large shopping center. Unfortunately, we never did find it. I could smell garlic, but no Cafe Bella appeared. The Garmin's database is a couple years old and in this economy, restaurants come and go quickly. Oh well, we knew there was an Olive Garden further ahead. As I approached it, though, I could see the parking lot was packed. Oh, yeah, it's Mother's Day, the biggest restaurant day of the year. Surely there could be a spot in the bar. Who takes their Mom to dinner and sits in the bar? I berthed Odyssey across the street and we walked in.

Apparently, everyone in Amarillo has been busy breeding, because the lobby was filled with a sea of young, small, hungry humans. All the mothers were in the bar, and who can blame them? We spun on our spurs and beat a hasty retreat. We decided that every sit-down restaurant in town would probably be the same story, so our options were buying groceries or finding the kind of eating establishment that even Texans won't take their mothers to. We chose groceries, and the next store was a Super Walmart.

Unfortunately, it was one of the unfriendly Wallys with the low bar across the entrances to keep the trucks out, so we kept rolling. I'm getting rather cranky at this point, but perked up when Godfrey suggested Dairy Queen. Turns out there's one in Clarendon, near our chosen overnight spot. We arrived 20 minutes before closing, and had a decent hamburger. I was happy.

As we rolled out of the dinner stop, it was pitch black. Night falls quickly here. US 287 cuts through flat farmland, with very few towns and no street lamps. My AAA map showed a rest area about 10 miles out of town, and we were both tired and ready to get off the road. The blackness seemed endless, and after 15 miles I was worried that AAA had led us astray and that we'd be driving another hour to the next small town. Then we crested a small hill and the rest area shone like an oasis in the next hollow.

I don't normally like such bright parking lot lights while sleeping, but the appearance of so much infrastructure did my heart good. Dumpsters! Pavement! Flush toilets! There were a few parking spots out of direct reach of the klieg lights, and we settled into an area pretty much by ourselves.

Within an hour, we were surrounded by other RVs, but they were relatively quiet neighbors and we had a pleasant night. We're heading to the vicinity of Tyler, TX today.

All photos by Godfrey DiGiorgi

1 comment:

  1. Looks like you are making good time. Sorry we missed you in Albuquerque but maybe next time. Glad you found a decent place to eat and park.


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