Sunday, March 10, 2013

See the World and never leave Texas

Ranch near Hico
This edition involves a road trip that Kevin and I took a few weeks back.  We drove west from Fort Worth to Weatherford, which despite being so close to I-20 has a Western feel, with plenty of feed stores, tack shops and mom & pop restaurants.   Further west, Mineral Wells is a bit tired and run down. In its hey-day thousands flocked here for the cure-all "mineral" waters, now it looks time stopped in 1958 and it just wants to be left alone.  Crossing back over I-20 we considered finding Thurber, a town that once boasted 10,000 inhabitants in 1920 when its coal mine was booming.  Now it is not even on the map.  When the trains converted to oil and diesel, Thurber was no more. 

Natty Flat Smokehouse

Fee Fi Fo Fum
Just south of 1-20 on TX 281 is the hamlet of Natty Flat.  There is nothing here other than the Natty Flat Smokehouse but that itself is plenty.  We had some excellent smoked brisket and sausage, washed down with some Dr. Pepper and a Big Red.  Adjoining the restaurant is a store selling home made furniture, including this monstrous rocking chair that is as tall as as a utility pole.  Yes, another example that everything is bigger in you-know-where... I do not believe the rocking chair to be for sale.  And what kind of porch would it fit on?

Stephenville is a busy town, billing itself the "Cowboy Capital of the World" and based on the number of horse trailers, pick-ups and western stores, it might well have a basis for such a claim. 

Dublin Train Station (not Heuston)
And so to Dublin.  It is unclear how Dublin got its name.  Per the Texas State Historical Association:  " It was founded in 1854 by A. H. Dobkins and named in 1860, probably for the warning cry at Indian raids, "Double In," for the capital of Ireland, or for the double-log cabins used by early settlers."  Today is better know for Dublin Dr. Pepper (using cane rather than corn based sugar), although thanks to a dispute with Dr Pepper-Snapple, the bottling plant is now closed.   Dublin is a nice size town, busy and bearing very little resemblance to its Irish cousin.
Downtown Hico
Now heading east we came to Hico (pronounced "Hi-Coe"), my favorite town in north central Texas.  It is a blip on the map with only 1300 residents but what it lacks in size makes up in charm and small town friendliness.  Some of the infrastructure looks unchanged in decades.  Hico has tried with limited success to boost tourism by claiming that Billy the Kid escaped from Pat Garrett in New Mexico and lived out the rest of his days in Hico.  There seems to be little supporting evidence but it makes a good story.

The day was closing as we drove back through Glen Rose and Granbury, each a fine town in their own right and positively huge metropolises compared to Hico.  Kevin may argue the point but we had an enjoyable afternoon touring the country.

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