Tag Archives: Texas

Road Trip~ Fort Smith, Arkansas to Amarillo, Texas

2 Nov

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis


September 10, 2017 Day 4

September 10 marked our second day of loading and unloading the truck. Since we were carrying sandwich makings for our daily picnic and other items needing to be kept cold, we had to carry in our coolers too.  What is all that stuff?



Our route today on Interstate 40 would take us through the rather monotonous plains of Oklahoma. Fortunately, On a previous trip out west my husband had his heart set on seeing the landscapes that were settings in the cowboy western movies of his youth. Unfortunately, our RV broke down and we had to forego stops to get back on schedule for our camping reservations.  I had a surprise planned for my husband on this leg of the trip.  A picnic in a cowboy canyon!

The tiny town of Hinton, Oklahoma, population 3,220, and is the home of Red Rock Canyon State Park. According to their website:

Red Rock Canyon was once a stop on the famous California Trail. Now visitors can enjoy this beautiful western Oklahoma oasis without bringing the Conestoga wagon. Red Rock Canyon State Park is a great place to hike, climb, or explore. Bring the family or bring the whole wagon train!

The timing of our arrival was perfect. We were ready to get off the interstate for gas as well as lunch. Driving into the park we began a sharp descent into the canyon. I was amazed at the abrupt change in the landscape and my sweet husband was thrilled to finally experience cowboy rocks!



Our daughter noticed that I seem to snap pictures of my husband  while he is chewing. It wasn’t intentional….honest.



After our picnic, we returned to Interstate 40, excited for our first glimpse of Texas. I am not a fan of hot weather, so all of our previous trips west took a northern route. Not the greatest picture, taken by my phone through the windshield.



I was surprised at the number of wind mills in Texas! There were acres and acres of them. We ended our day in Amarillo, Texas and I was ready to try some authentic Texas barbecue. I asked at the front desk and they recommended Dyer’s. It was hard to find as it is located in one of those shopping areas where the businesses blend into to setting.


Photo credit Yelp Review


We enjoyed the atmosphere and ordered a three meat plate. It was all delicious and I particularly liked their brisket and onion rings.The servers were friendly and their sweet tea was as good as my mama’s, strong and sweet.


Not chewing this time!


After supper, I spoke with our daughter on the phone. She had decided to ride out the storm in her home….alone. Hurricane Irma would be passing over her home in the evening hours. I knew I would not be getting much sleep.


My 2016 Mid-West Trip~Part 4

27 Jul

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Bill Cross Plane


Day 4 (Tuesday)


I made good time on my trip from Houston to Fort Worth today, and my first stop was to visit the C.R. Smith Museum. This museum records the history of American Airlines, which was founded in 1930, and how the airline has developed from its inception, to the present, under the leadership of C.R. Smith.



They had a beautifully restored 1935 DC-3 in American Airline colors (of course!). That reminded me of my very first flight on an airplane. That took place in 1945, when I was 6 years old, and my family was moving from Dallas, Texas to Albuquerque, New Mexico. And would you believe it, that trip was in a plane that just happened to be an American Airlines DC-3. I wondered if it could be possible that this is the very airplane I flew in all those many years ago? I have heard of stranger things than that happening.


Several museums that I had planned to see in Fort Worth were closed today so my next stop was to visit the Vintage Auto Museum and Grill in Weatherford, Texas. This is a very unique museum, in that it includes a bar and grill all under one roof.


One of the museum’s favorite automobiles is the 1964 Lincoln Continental Convertible that President Lyndon B. Johnson used to drive around his Texas Hill Country ranch, when he was there resting from his White House duties.


I forgot to mention a minor incident I had yesterday. As I was leaving Texas City, heading north on I-45, a truck kicked up a stone that hit my windshield, (left of my field of vision) leaving a chip in it. I told myself, “I’ll have to be sure to mention that chip to the Thrifty Rental Car folks when I turn the car in at the end of my trip.” That thought was based on the fact that DiVoran and I have two chips in the windshield of our 2003 Mercury Grand Marque that you can barely see, and have been there for years with no problem.


But, by the time I got to the motel last night, a crack had migrated about 4 inches out of the chip, toward the center of the windshield. When I got up this morning, the crack was not any bigger.   No problem, right? Well, as the day wore on, the crack kept getting bigger. There didn’t seem to be any system to it. I’d drive along for a while and there would be no progression of the crack. Then all of a sudden, it would grow an inch or more.   So, by the end of the day now, the crack was over 12 inches long, and had progressed right across my field of vision. I was afraid that if the windshield was hit again, it might shatter and I could be in a heap of trouble. Since I had some time left in the day, I called Thrifty, explained the problem, and asked them for the closest office where I could take my rental car for a replacement. That turned out to be not far, at the DFW Airport. Thrifty set up the exchange and by the time I got to the airport, that office had my replacement car ready.




So, then it was back to the motel, with my new car, for leftover Baby Back Ribs, sweet potatoe and cole slaw. It was all almost as good as it had been the night before at Longhorn Stakehouse.



—–To Be Continued—–

Family Treasures~Part 3

19 Jun


Judy Wills



I’m really having a good time, going back through the “things” that made up my childhood and growing-up years. They bring back such fun memories.

The previous musings have been about items in my family home. Today I would like to introduce some things that, while near and dear to me, were in my Aunt Jessie’s house. She and my Granny lived about 10 minutes away from us, and they were a huge part of my life – almost daily – for about 10 years. I loved their house as much as I loved ours.

Aunt Jessie never married, and so “things” became the focus of her life. Grandpa started her on the road to loving antiques, and she never quit. She would go to estate sales around Albuquerque and pick up what she wanted. She furnished her house with some REALLY good antique furniture. She was, at one time, the President of the Antique Club in Albuquerque.

As I’ve mentioned before, Aunt Jessie, Granny, and my Mother, all worked in the Rochester Handkerchief Factory in San Antonio, Texas, at one time or another. Mother told me that, eventually, Mrs. Rochester discovered that it was actually cheaper to go to Ireland for the fabric, take it to China for the cutwork, and then bring it to the United States to sell. They actually made a bigger profit by doing that. Unbelievable to me.

In any case, while in China, Mrs. Rochester would pick up items that she wanted – and that Aunt Jessie would like to have, and have them shipped back to the U.S. I’ve mentioned before about the hand-carved camphor chests.

One other thing that she brought to Jessie, that I have always loved, were Chinese scenes, formed/carved from cork. They have always fascinated me. And so, when Jessie died, I took two of those pictures, and they now hang on our guest bedroom walls. And they still fascinate me.

They might not have been in my parent’s house, but they are still family treasures to me.






Texas Bluebonnets

15 Mar


Judy Wills





Some of my family is from Texas – actually my brother and I were born in Dallas, but moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico when we were small children. But my mother’s mother (Granny) and her oldest daughter, Jessie, lived in San Antonio for many years.



Consequently, I had known about the Texas Bluebonnets for longer than I really knew what they were.



Even though Fred and I lived in Fort Worth for many years, it wasn’t until we moved to San Antonio that I really knew about the Texas Bluebonnets. And they are AMAZING! They have been adopted as the state flower of Texas.



On the internet I found this: As historian Jack Maguire so aptly wrote, “It’s not only the state flower but also a kind of floral trademark almost as well known to outsiders as cowboy boots and the Stetson hat.” He goes on to affirm that “The bluebonnet is to Texas what the shamrock is to Ireland, the cherry blossom to Japan, the lily to France, the rose to England and the tulip to Holland.”  Well said.


When Springtime comes to Texas – from the Dallas/Fort Worth area down to the Corpus Christi area – the Bluebonnets are in full bloom, from late March to mid-April. They are the most dainty, beautiful flower, and we’ve see just fields and fields of them – like a blanket of blue in some cases. I’ve been sent many pictures of them via e-mail through the years, and have enjoyed seeing them all.



There is even one of Bluebonnets in the snow! Must have been a late storm – although Dallas/Fort Worth can have abundant snow in early Spring.

When we moved from San Antonio to Florida, I took some Bluebonnet seeds with me and planted them, hoping for some lovely spring flowers to remind me of Texas. No such luck! As I’ve just gleaned from google, they must be planted in the fall and have to have the wind, rain, and cold weather to make them leap forth in the Spring. And the panhandle of Florida just doesn’t have that kind of winter weather. Shucks! Oh well, I then planted strawberry plants and they did very well.



But the Texas Bluebonnet is a source of great pride for Texas – as if they needed something else! And they are just a beautiful side of Texas that most don’t know about. I think a lot of people think of Texas as dusty, flat, and unimaginative. But it is full of great differences, including some of the most beautiful flowers in God’s creation.



                       I’m just so glad I was able to see them, and enjoy their beauty.


For the beauty of the earth
For the glory of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies.


My Southwest Adventure~Part 3

6 Nov

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites


One of the surprises I had while in the West Texas area was to see several operating “Drive-in Theaters” open for business.  One was a large two-sided affair and one was in the middle of an1 oil field, with working oil pumps outside the parking area on three sides.  I guess those Texas oil people don’t let anything slow down getting that “Black Gold” out of the ground.  The other thing was how flat West Texas is, and how there is nothing to stop the wind, which blows dust and tumble weeds across many of the hiways.

Then there is the Texas Hiway Loop System.  Anyway, that’s what I called it.  Most of the major Hiways and Interstates that run thru the larger cities, have a frontage road running along 2either side of the hiway or Interstate, with entrance and exit lanes at intervals.  Then at the next crossroad, there is a “Loop” lane, which allows you to access businesses on the other side of the main Hiway or Interstate.  I guess they set that system up to reduce the number of overpasses they had to build in that flat part of the state.  Anyway, It was a real challenge for me when I first encountered the system, but once I got the hang of it, I found it fairly manageable.  Of course, it didn’t confuse “Greta” my Garmin road helper, as she spouted out directions like; “…continue .8 miles, then take ramp on left to I-35East North…” Or “…in .5 miles, keep right on I-35East South…” Or “…in .6 miles keep left on Texas 12 loop East to I-20 West…” I’m just glad I had her with me for all that.  What a lifesaver she was!

Wednesday I headed North, stopping in Slaton, TX to visit the Texas Air Museum, on my way to Lubbock, TX to check out the Silent Wings Glider Museum.  DiVoran’s uncle was a glider pilot in WWII and I was interested in finding out all I could about the different types of gliders used 3during that conflict.  Also, the C-47 “TICO Bell” at the VAC Warbird Museum in Titusville, Florida where I am a tour guide one day a week, towed gliders and dropped  paratroopers in support of the D-Day Normandy invasion, and survived the many hazards it and its crew encountered on that famous day in history.

That night at the motel, while I was making out my itinerary for the next day, several workers gathered around their trucks, outside the room next to mine.  They were playing loud Latino music, laughing and having a good time. I was hoping that wasn’t going to go on all night, but then they settled down by about  8:30 and soon quieted down altogether.  But then, one of the group started singing softly to himself, the same chorus over and over.  I liked his voice, and it put me in mind of the days before TV, when people would gather in the evenings to entertain themselves by singing.




                                                            —–To Be Continued—–

My Southwest Adventure Part~1

23 Oct

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites


The main reason for this trip was to attend the CAF AirPower Expo in Addison, Texas, where “FIFI”, the only flying B-29 in the world and her CAF 1companion B-24, “Diamond Lil”, were to be featured, along with a varity of other WWII Warbirds.  I had seen static B-24 and B-29 displays at museums, but this would be a special treat to see these famous WWII Warbirds fly.  Then after that experience, I planned to complete an 11-day, 2660-mile circuit of aviation museums and other attractions in Central/West Texas and New Mexico.

I knew I was headed for Texas, because on the first leg of my flight to Austin, Texas I sat next to an older couple who were dressed in western togs.  The man was holding his 10-gallon hat in his lap the whole trip, because he couldn’t wear it and lean back in his seat.  I didn’t pay much attention to that until we got ready to disembark in Austin, at which time 2he and his wife kept taking things out of his hat; like her watch and hair comb, and his glasses and billfold.  Now I knew cowboys used their hats on the trail, to give their horses a drink of water, but I never thought about how convenient those big hats would be to carry things in!  Then I arrived at the Dallas airport, many of the people were dressed in their western clothes and boots, and I saw this 10-gallon hat display used as a window decoration for a restaurant.  The next thing I noticed, after obtaining my rental car was the Geico billboard sign, with the Gecko wearing a 10-gallon hat.  Yep, I was in Texas for sure!

The next day, at the CAF AirPower Expo, as advertised, “FIFI” and “Diamond Lil” thrilled the crowd and gave us all a sense of being a part of the past, that few people of the modern generation can appreciate.  The many other WWII Warbirds participating in the Expo made for a special day for me to remember.  Being trained as an Airframe & Engine mechanic in college, I still love the sights, sounds and smells of the round-engine propeller airplanes from the 1930s-1950s era.

One of the most memorable things for me at the Expo was meeting Bob Searden, who was part of the 507th Airborne Infantry Regiment, parachuting into Normandy in the early hours of D-Day.  Bob was all decked out in his jump uniform, metals, and even a pair of jump boots.  I was privileged to have my picture taken with Bob, who I consider a real WWII hero.  Check out Bob’s memoir To D-Day and Backwhich chronicles his experiences on D-Day and his subsequent capture and life as a POW.




——To Be Continued——


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