Friday, October 28, 2011

New Orleans Road Trip - Day 05

We awoke in Amarillo at 6 a.m. There was still snow on the ground but none coming down.

John took a shower while Linda took Fannie Mae out for her morning constitutional.

We found an IHOP in the neighborhood and were packed up and there by 7:10 a.m. John had coffee, 2 eggs, 2 strips of bacon, a side of fruit, one-half a piece of whole wheat toast and shared an OJ with Linda. Linda had a spinach and tomato omlette, a fruit bowl and dekaf coffee.

After breakfast John plugged Palo Duro State Park into Wilma's navigation system and we were off by 8:07 to visit the park.  We arrived there at 8:40.  As one gets closer and closer there are no clues that a canyon is nearby.  The first explorers to the area must have been really surprised to suddenly come upon such a spectacular canyon in the middle of miles and miles of flat plains. John took some pictures of the plains. As they say locally, "miles and miles of nothing but miles and miles. John also took a short video clip of a turning windmill and some lovely bird sounds. No snow had gone down into the canyon so, other than being a little nippy, it was a great day for touring the bottom of Palo Duro (which means hard wood in Spanish).  It is 120 miles long, 800 feet deep and is America's 2nd largest canyon. It was formed approximately one million years ago when the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River first carved its way through the Southern High Plains. In the summer a musical called Texas is performed in an outdoor ampitheater in the park.  The canyon and the musical are both well worth seeing. You can learn more about this interesting place by clicking here.

We took lots of photos which can sort of speak for themselves. We saw several deer but only captured one in just one photo.  Sadly, the Sad Monkey Railroad of Palo Duro Canyon is no longer operating.  It ran from 1950 to 1996 and was a really interesting way to tour the canyon.  In 1992, Linda and our son, Jay, came to west Texas to help celebrate the 80th birthday of Linda's dad. While they were here, they went to Palo Duro Canyon and Jay got to ride the Sad Monkey Railroad. After it closed a resident outside the park bought a part of it and has it on display. Linda took a photo of the train and it is in today's gallery.

Our next stop was Happy, Texas.  John's mom was a McDonald and she had 11 brothers and sisters. Many of them lived in west Texas and several of them in Happy. John was related to lots of McDonalds who lived there and spent one summer working in Happy when he was in junior high. He stayed with his Uncle Gus who had a blacksmith shop. It was dilapidated then. Sadly, it's been torn down and a grain elevator is in it's place. Gus lived in an "immobile" mobile home and Johs stayed there. Gus ownd a house, but had given it to his older son Reed, the town constable, to have for his family. Gus's house is in the video clip. John worked some for his cousin Keene McDonald repairing water wells and also plowed wheat stubble witn a big Minneapolis Moline tractor. The population of Happy is now 678. And, for film aficionados, the movie, "Happy, Texas" was NOT filmed in Happy, Texas and the actors weren't from Happy, Texas. It was filmed in, of course, California.

Next we stopped in Plainview (where Linda lived from age 3 until she left for Texas Tech College). We had a delicious lunch at the Old Mexico Cafe.  John had the gentleman's plate which had 2 enchiladas and 2 tacos.  Linda and John shared an order of guacamole.  Linda had a bean taco and half an order of nachos.  The Old Mexico Cafe was a favorite place for Linda's family and friends in the 50s and 60s.  She took a photo that shows the original Old Mexico Cafe that was located closer to downtown. The same family still runs it as in the 50s. The photo of the original location is included in today's photo gallery.

Linda has raved about Spudnuts and John saw them on the Food Channel. So she and John planned to split one so he could see what all the fuss was about. Sadly, it was after 11:30 a.m. and they were closed. Such is life! John is still Spudnut free!

The buzzards had a nice visit with Linda's stepmother, Helen Ayers, at her apartment.  The old Plainview Hospital (where Linda's brother, Wes, was born) has been converted into units for seniors. Helen has really fixed her place up cute and is enjoying living close to many friends, old and new. She does not miss keeping up a yard. Her place smelled like brownies because she was baking for a Halloween party to be held downstairs at 5:30. As we were leaving a friend was arriving to fetch Helen for senior aerobics.

Then we drove by Linda's old house where she grew up. 113 S.W. 9th Street. She took a couple of photos and John made a short video clip. After a quick stop by Sandy Cantrel Lindeman's house on Date Street the old buzzards and their Fannie headed toward Lubbock on a farm-to-market road and met up with the I-27 freeway again at Hale Center. 

The buzzards arrived in Lubbock at 4:00 p.m. and checked in to the La Quinta Inn on the Marsha Sharp Freeway. Marsha got the freeway named for her after she took the Texas Tech women's basketball team to a national championship. This La Quinta is an old Atrium hotel. All three floors of rooms face inside. The pet rooms are on the second floor. Fortunately, they have luggage carts you can use, so we only had to make one trip to wag our bags. But, we learned one thing for certain....Fannie Mae does not like elevators!

Shortly after checking in, we got the good news that Linda's brother, Wes, would be able to join us for dinner that evening. Originally Wes thought he would be at work and we were planning to meet really early for breakfast on Saturday. So, this was really great. We had planned to go to Acuff Steak House for dinner. Acuff Steak House has been in the same location in Acuff, TX for sixty years. The current owner (you'll me here in the photo gallery) has owned the restaurant for thirty years. Yes, it's a dumpy looking place, but folks travel for lots of miles to come eat the food there. It was a favorite place for Linda and John to go occasionally when they were students at Texas Tech College (before it was a University!). Acuff is about 18 miles east of Lubbock on Farm-to-Market 40. While they still have steaks, nowadays they have a fried catfish and chicken fried steak buffet on Fridays, both lunch and dinner. The entrees come with soup, a salad bar, a great assortment of vegetables and desserts. We all enjoyed fried catfish. The food was just as good as in our memories.  Wes lives in Lubbock but had never been there. Now he is probably going there for their special Thanksgiving meal.

As we had a long drive, longest of our road trip, tomorrow, we got to bed pretty early and did not get through with everything to post our travelogue for the day. Oh, well, you'll just have to wait!

So, today's photo gallery of 85 images can be viewed by clicking here. And, the short video of clips from today can be viewed by clicking here.

Tomorrow's travelogue will probably be pretty brief as we'll mostly be on the road headed to Shreveport. Probably be just a few pictures in the gallery. Hopefully, we'll get it out on time.

The funniest sign today was on the door of the Acuff Steak House. There's a photo of it in the gallery. It says something like “Wipe your feet real good” and is signed by Denise, one of the waitresses.

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