Saturday, May 23, 2009

Day One

I got up at 6:30 and went for a short run, then Dan and I finished packing, loaded the Cherokee, and corralled the critters. They were none too happy about being taken to the vet spa, but it gives us peace of mind to know that they’re in good hands.

Our first goal was Buc-ee’s in Luling, Texas.

For those who aren’t from around these parts, Buc-ee’s is a cleverly marketed upscale gas and convenience store. They draw you in with their clever billboards reminiscent of Burma-Shave signs, then deliver everything they promise and more.

Their 32 gas pumps and huge restrooms with attendants on hand would make Buc-ee’s a must, even without their store. But the store is something else again. Fresh pastries, fudge, jerky, honeyed pecans, salsa, sweet potato butter, and peach preserves await. You can get a hot sandwich made to order. You can get travel gadgets for your car, tooled-leather purses, gift items, and of course Buc-cee’s t-shirts and caps. It’s quite a place. Best of all, even though the place was crowded, they had enough cashiers on duty that there was no waiting for checkout. Dan got some teriyaki jerky and a cup of coffee, and I got some pecans.

Once on the other side of San Antonio we ran into heavy rain.

It lightened up near Kerrville when we stopped at our favorite rest stop.

We continued on through rain, sometimes heavy, sometimes clearing, as the land grew flatter.

We passed a wind farm. We had seen others in prior years, but this one is new.

We had wanted to stay in San Angelo, but when I tried to make a reservation last week, I found everything booked. We booked a room at the Holiday Inn Express in Big Spring but forgot to write down directions how to get there. I guess I should say that it wasn’t a complete oversight. I had the silly notion that a town so small would be a hard place to hide a Holiday Inn. I was mistaken. Part of the problem was the directions we got from Dan’s BlackBerry, which gave us a convoluted series of turns that completely failed to lead us to a hotel.

“Trust Google Maps,” Dan assured me.

I trusted. Then we found ourselves in a high school stadium parking lot and I suggested we try something else.

In an effort to prove that men do, in fact, ask directions, Dan asked a passing stranger how to get to the address for our hotel. The man had holes in his jeans, stains on his shirt, and breath I could smell from six feet away, and he gave directions just as confusing as those we got from Google. We followed those directions for a bit, finally ending up in a neighborhood where the houses hadn’t seen paint since the Johnson administration and were only standing upright due to orneriness. We retraced our path back to the main drag, went to a gas station and asked the attendant. He told us to just keep going up the road we had come in on and we couldn’t miss it. And you know what? He was right.

Screw Google Maps.

We got checked in, brought our stuff up to our room, then I went to the little gym on the first floor and did another thirty minute run. It felt good to sweat and get my blood moving after spending all day in the car. Then I had dinner in my room. Anticipating that there would be nothing I’d want to eat in Big Spring, I had brought along a pasta salad from Central Market and some homemade cashew butter granola bars. Very nice and just like home.

Today we drove 520 miles. We go to Santa Fe tomorrow, another 415 or so. We’re going to try to leave around 7 so we’ll get there with enough time to hang out on the plaza for a bit. We have a room booked at La Fonda, our first time to stay there since our honeymoon thirteen years ago.

Check back tomorrow night for more adventures! And if my adventures are too tame for you, Maelstrom is on tour, so check out what they’re up to.


Thomma Lyn said...

Wow, what a first day! The pictures of the wind farm are so cool, and Buc-ee's sounds like a great place to start a vacation!

And I can't quit giggling at "a neighborhood where the houses hadn’t seen paint since the Johnson administration and were only standing upright due to orneriness"... I'm sorry the hotel was so hard to find. Guess Google isn't omnipotent and omniscient after all (lol ;) )!

Hope you have a great day tomorrow, my friend! Looking forward to hearing more about your adventures.

Now I'm off to see what Maelstrom's up to!

Rabbits' Guy said...

I remember a trip we took through that area a few years ago ... there sure is a LOT of Texas!!!