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Texas 2K10

a travel blog by Kugs on the road


My Trip to Texas and back home in the spring of 2010.
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I haven't left yet

Syracuse, United States



On Saturday April 3rd I will be leaving on a two and a half week drive to the Texas Gulf coast and surrounding areas. I have been researching my route for several weeks and have some very exciting stops planed. I will be touring several Navy ships, Presidential libraries, the Johnson Space Center, the 6th Floor Museum (the place JFK was shot from) and of course some very interesting spots along the way. I will be making updates as often as I can (depending on internet access) So please keep checking for updates.

Kugs

permalink written by  Kugs on the road on March 30, 2010 from Syracuse, United States
from the travel blog: Texas 2K10
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11:00am Start

North Syracuse, United States


Starting out about 2 hours later than I wanted to... but I'm on the road! I will drive as far as I can today and will hopefully get to southern Illinois.

Kugs

permalink written by  Kugs on the road on April 2, 2010 from North Syracuse, United States
from the travel blog: Texas 2K10
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Day 1: The Long Drive

Evansville, United States


I think I had a bit of cranial flatulence when I said I was hoping to make it to southern Illinois. My original goal was Evansville Indiana, and I made it there. I drove about 800 mi. in 12 hours. Had some stomach problems along the way, but nothing to serious.
Tomorrow I'm driving across Illinois and Missouri and hoping to end up close to Tulsa Oklahoma. But because most of this is going to be roads I've never driven before, I would like to be off the road before dark. One of my main rules on these trips is not driving after dark. The purpose of these trips is to see America and you can't see America in the dark.
I'm also hoping to take a few minuets tomorrow to stop at one of my favorite types of attractions in southern Missouri.

Kugs

permalink written by  Kugs on the road on April 3, 2010 from Evansville, United States
from the travel blog: Texas 2K10
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You know, I love a good henge

Vinita, United States



Is there a better way to start a trip than a little henge? Stubby Stonehenge is half-sized Stonehenge replica that was built by the high- pressure water lab at University of Missouri's Rolla campus as a way to showcase their stone carving skills. They claim that this is the only henge that actually works as a calender, but my sources tell me that there are 4 other working henges. Maybe one of those henges will be along my route this trip.
After my stop in Rolla, Mo I headed South West towards Oklahoma. Just after I crossed the Oklahoma state line I heard a "ding" from the dashboard. It was the fuel warning light. I looked up just in time to see I was passing an exit with a sign that said "No services for 17 Miles". I was able to make it to the gas station, but I ended up putting 16.6 gallons in a 16.9 gallon tank.
Tomorrow I have several stops planned in Oklahoma including the Will Rogers Museum and a World War II sub Parked on dry land and of course... a gas station.

Kugs

permalink written by  Kugs on the road on April 4, 2010 from Vinita, United States
from the travel blog: Texas 2K10
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A day in Oklahoma

Oklahoma City, United States



I started today with a visit to the Will Rogers Museum in Claremore, OK. Of course the museum is full of Will Rogers memorabilia, paintings of Will, Newspaper clippings of his syndicated column, and reports of his death in Alaska. They also had three small theaters set up, one showing a 30 minute film telling the Story of his life. Another theater was showing the movies that he appeared in. The third one showed footage of Will's roping tricks. I knew he was known for his roping abilities and had seen some clips of him standing on a horse spinning a rope while he was making humerus commentary on the events of the day. But the film that they played showed some tricks that were absolutely amazing. He could throw a Lasso at a passing horse and rider catch the horses head twist the rope 180 degrees an then catch the riders head so the rope ended up in a figure 8.
Of course one of the strangest displays was the contents of his pockets when his plane crashed in Alaska.


Next I stopped in Tulsa, OK to see the "Sonic Center of the Universe" which for the most part was a disappointment. The spot is a small park/ sitting area located on an old bridge in the downtown Tulsa. It was designed in such a way that if you stand in the center you can hear an echo of your voice. But it looks like there hasn't been any maintenance in years, there is a lot of visible weather and human damage. Also it was difficult to hear if the echo thing really works because there were construction noises all around. They were fixing up areas on both sides of the bridge, but no sign of work being done to this little spot.


After that I stopped for a photo op with a giant Oil man ( I seem to be getting closer to Texas, things are getting bigger).


Then a visit to the USS Batfish, I knew this site was going to be closed and was just hoping to get a good shot of this 1,525 ton ship sitting on the ground or at least mostly above ground. From what I have read this ship was to large to float up the Arkansas river which is only a few hundred yards away. So they ended up putting the ship on some barges to bring the ship to this location. Unfortunately this made the ship to tall to float under most of the bridges, so the army corps of engineers had to lower the level of the river so it would fit. All in all it was quite an engineering feat to get this ship where it is.


My last stop for the day was my first Triple D stop (Diners, Drive-Inns and Dives). The Cattlemans Cafe is the oldest operating restaurant in Oklahoma City. If you saw this episode on the food network, you'll know that Cattlemans doesn't just specialize in steaks. They also serve brains and eggs (yup, a double scramble) and lamb fries. They say if you don't know what lamb fries are, don't ask, just eat em' and enjoy. So for dinner I had a strip steak with a baked potato a salad and a side of lamb fries. Of course the steak was perfect and the lamb fries .... well they kinda tasted like frog legs. I don't think I will go back in the morning for the scrambled eggs...

I was planning to head to Amarillo TX tomorrow, but I think I'm going to bypass Amarillo and head to Dallas tomorrow.


Kugs

permalink written by  Kugs on the road on April 5, 2010 from Oklahoma City, United States
from the travel blog: Texas 2K10
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Dallas

Fort Worth, United States




This morning I drove to Dallas Texas and took a tour of the Sixth Floor Museum. This museum is located on the 6th floor of the old Texas School Book Depository, The place that Lee Harvey Oswald shot JFK from. They don't allow Photography in the Museum so I can't show you any photos of the inside. The Museum consists mostly of photos and text that are on wall hangings throughout the museum and the wireless audio that is included with the tour guides you through it all and tells the story from Kennedy's election to the investigation into the assassination. when you get to the corner window where Oswald stood, they have the area behind glass walls staged the way it was that afternoon. One of the other items they have on display is a scale model of Dealey Plaza that was used by the Warren Commission in their investigation of the assassination.

By the way... The window Oswald shot from was on sixth floor on the far right.


After the tour of the museum and a quick stop at the gift shop, I went out to Dealey Plaza to take a few photos. In 1993 Dealey Plaza was declared a National Historic Landmark and has been kept the same as it was in 1963. The picture here was taken from in front of the Depository looking towards the where JFK was shot. They have Paced X'es in the road in the spots where JFK was hit. Even though this is still a very busy road, there are still people who will run out there to have their picture taken on one of those spots. The right side of the photo is the Grassy knoll, the left side is a green area where people stood to watch the motorcade.


A few blocks from Dealey Plaza is the John F. Kennedy Cenotaph or Open Tomb "That symbolizes the freedom of Kennedy's spirit"
Basically it's a 30 foot square cement block. It was originally going to be marble, but cement was cheaper.


This may look like your average Conoco gas station... but inside is gourmet restaurant, well the food is gourmet, the decor is still gas station. This is another DDD tour stop. The story is in 2001 the owners were trying to open a restaurant, but the banks were not willing to lend them the money because of their lack of experience running a restaurant. However, the bank was OK with lending them money to buy a gas station... So they found a gas station under construction and bought it, added a kitchen and the Chef Point Cafe was born. The tables and chairs are very much what you would expect in a gas station convenience store eatery, the food is closer to what you would find in a 4 star restaurant.


I started with the Escargot stuffed in mushroom caps topped with sherry wine sauce. Not only were they the best escargot I've had in any gas station, They were the best I've ever had. For diner I was thinking of getting the Lamb Chops, But ended up getting the Seafood Supreme, which is shrimp, scallops, calamari & fresh vegetables, in a roasted bell pepper sauce over bow-tie pasta. After all that, I was stuffed. So I ordered the "Worlds Best" Bread Pudding to go. I don't know if it's the worlds best, but I thought it was pretty good.


Tomorrow I'm heading towards Corpus Christi with a few interesting stops along the way.

Kugs

permalink written by  Kugs on the road on April 6, 2010 from Fort Worth, United States
from the travel blog: Texas 2K10
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One Good Henge Deserves Another

San Antonio, United States



Today was a great day, the weather was perfect. I avoided the interstates almost all day, and I had a nice long drive on country roads. I couldn't have asked for more.


Aurora Cemetery seems like your average rural cemetery at first, But according to local legend (and the plaque next to the gate) They have a very special visitor interred somewhere inside the gates. According to the legend, in 1897 a Spaceship crashed near there and the pilot was found dead. The pilot's body was buried in the cemetery and his grave marked with an odd shaped stone. At some point the marking stone was removed or stolen and now it's anyone's guess where the alien is buried.


The National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg, TX Was much more than I was expecting. My main reason for stopping here was to see the Japanese HA-19 WWII sub. This two man sub was one of five used by the Japanese to attack Pearl Harbor. Like the other four, this sub was unsuccessful in it's mission. However this is the only one of the five to survive.


In 1989 Doug Hill Stood a large limestone rock upright in his friend Al Shepperd's Field. This sparked the imagination of both men. A few months later Al commissioned Doug to build Stonehenge II, and eventually two 12 foot Easter Island statues.

For dinner tonight I decided to go to Lulu's Cafe in San Antonio, TX. I heard about Lulu's on the Travel Channels "Man vs Food". Lulu's is famous for 2 things, their huge Chicken fried steak and their 3 pound cinnamon rolls. The steak was definitely huge, but I've only had Chicken fried steak one other time and I'm still not impressed. I'm going back in the morning for a cinnamon roll to see if that is better than the steak.

permalink written by  Kugs on the road on April 7, 2010 from San Antonio, United States
from the travel blog: Texas 2K10
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Dinner was Awesome

Lockhart, United States



I started today out with a 3 lbs Cinnamon roll from Lulu's I ripped off a hunk and crammed it in my mouth... Wow, tons of sugar... Then I heard that little voice in my head saying that I needed a real breakfast... So I went back into Lulu's and ordered some ham & eggs (yes Tom, With home-fries and toast).


Originally I wasn't going to, But I decided to go to the Alamo... there were about 100 people outside waiting to get in... so I just kept driving.
Then I headed over to the Wooden Nickle Museum. I found the Nickle, But not the Museum.


So I drove up to Austin to the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library & Museum. It wasn't the best Presidential Museum I've been to but it was OK.


The Governor of Texas has declared Lockhart, TX to be the official "Barbecue Capital of Texas". The travel channel featured 3 of Lockhart's Barbecue joints on a show called "Barbecue Paradise", The difficult part was choosing which one to go to. I chose Smitty's Market. Trust me the Dinosaur would go out of business if Smitty's moved to Syracuse, and don't expect me to bring back any jars of their sauce either, there is no sauce. Texas Barbecue isn't about sauce, it's about the cooking.



When you walk into Smitty's they send you to the back room to get your meat. In the back there's a counter and behind that are the cookers with a fire on the floor at each end of the oven. You order what you want and the man in back lifts the steel cover over one of the cookers and pulls out a hunk of meat and cuts it to order on the butcher block. Then they wrap it in butcher paper with some bread and crackers and send you back into the dinning room. There you order your sides and drinks and have a seat at one of the long tables.


I ordered kind of a sample platter. 4 Ribs, 2 Slices of brisket, a ring of sausage, a side of coleslaw and a beer. They don't have plates at Smitty's nor do they have forks. You get a plastic knife and if you need it, a plastic spoon. The plastic knife was more than enough to cut the meat. Everything was tender and juicy and melt in your mouth good. If you ever go to Texas, go to Lockhart for dinner. If your ever near Texas, go to Lockhart. It's worth the trip.


permalink written by  Kugs on the road on April 8, 2010 from Lockhart, United States
from the travel blog: Texas 2K10
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USS Lexington

Bay City, United States



A nice slow day today. This morning I drove to Corpus Christi and spent about 3 hours touring The Lexington. The Lex is WWII era Aircraft Carrier. It took 3 hours to walk through the tour and they only allow you in a small portion of the ship. To give you an Idea how big an Aircraft Carrier is: It is as tall as a 19 Story building and the flight deck is big enough to play 14 basketball games at the same time. Not to mention the fact that airplanes can land and take off up there.

After the Lex I drove up the gulf coast towards Galveston and stopped in a small town called Bay City. I really didn't have any restaurants planned for this part of the trip, but was hoping to find some good seafood restaurants in the area. I didn't. So I ended up at a kind of Fast Food Bar-B-Que joint. It was OK, But nothing special. It had the basics of a good Texas Barbecue, but it definitely had a Fast Food aura around it.

Tomorrow I'm heading to Galveston to see more ships. Then to the Houston area for a couple days and then over to Atlanta to see my Brother and his family for a few days.

permalink written by  Kugs on the road on April 9, 2010 from Bay City, United States
from the travel blog: Texas 2K10
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A rainy day to tour some Navy ships

La Porte, United States



First stop today was to Sea Wolf Park in Galveston to visit the USS Cavalla. Although the Cavalla was first put into service in the latter part of WWII, She made up for lost time sinking 34,000 tons of Japanese ships including the aircraft carrier Shokaku that had participated in the attack on Pearl Harbor.


After the Cavalla I did a Walk through of the USS Stewart. The Stewart is a WWII era Destroyer Escort that spent most of her life on training missions.


On my way out of Galveston I stopped at the Ocean Star Oil Drilling Platform and Museum. A very informative museum with a lot of models, photos and diagrams to help explain the different types of oil platforms and how they work.


About an hour north of Galveston in La Porte, TX is the USS Texas. Built just before WWI, This ship not only fought in both World Wars, but has also been assigned to both the Atlantic and Pacific fleet. In 1948 The USS Texas became the first Battleship Memorial Museum.

Dinner tonight was another DDD tour stop. T-Bone Tom's Is yet another Bar-B-Q joint, and again to be fair I ordered the same 3 meats to make my comparison. Although I did order an Armadillo Egg for an appetizer tonight. No, it's not an actual Armadillo egg (do armadillo's even lay eggs?). This egg is a large Jalapeno pepper stuffed with pulled pork dredged in buttermilk, flour and bread crumbs and deep fried. It definitely had some heat to it, but it was good. As for the Bar-B-Q, it was tender and juicy, but I still think Smitty's is in the lead for flavor and the authentic atmosphere.

Kugs

permalink written by  Kugs on the road on April 10, 2010 from La Porte, United States
from the travel blog: Texas 2K10
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