Abilene- Wind, Downpours, Lightning and Kabooms- But Fun!

Saturday, March 9, 2019

It took a while to map a work around out of the Dallas/Fort Worth area. After 10 miles of lighter traffic and only getting cut off twice by people trying to merge onto I-35 we get off the interstate and onto a US highway. It didn’t take long to vamoose out of the city and into the country. Not far down the road is the town of Decatur, seat of Wise County. Signage was good until we got into the middle of town.

I like to follow the signs when we transition from one highway to another. Ah, a sign to highway 51, cool! Jil’s “Miss Smarty Pants” phone is routing us another way. I ignore the phone and follow the signs…… until there aren’t any. Crap. Since I ignored “Miss Smarty Pants” Jil ignores it also……. until we don’t make a proper turn to highway 51 and drive off towards Never Never Land again for lack of, you guessed it- signage. Miss Smarty Pants saves the day again but Jil is aggravated at me for not following Smarty’s directions. I’m aggravated because the signs to highway 51 ceased to exist- and I don’t trust little Miss Smarty Pants as she has put us in some doozies of predicaments. Hot tempers slowly return to normal. I have to get a good map application specifically made for big rigs, and soon.

I wanted to drive through Weatherford as it looked like a beautiful town but Miss Smarty Pants routes us around town. OK, I concede, I’ll follow her directions- this time. Soon we are back on I-20 heading west. As usual the interstate bypasses many smaller communities. Signage tells you that they are close by but one cannot actually see the towns from the highway. Ranger (2400 souls) is an exception as we can actually see its water tower and maybe even downtown as we pass by. Eastland (3900 souls) is another town we actually can see.

Notice Old Rip is Missing a Leg- Then Governor Connelly Picked Him Up By That Leg……

Eastland, seat of Eastland County, has a ‘true’ story concerning the construction of a new courthouse. A few documents, proclamations and a Bible were laid in the cornerstone. At the last minute a justice of the peace walked up with a Texas horned lizard that his son had caught and placed it in the marble block before it was sealed. Thirty years later that courthouse was replaced with a larger one. The old was torn down, the cornerstone opened and construction workers pulled out what appeared to be a dead horned toad- then it moved! Will Wood, the boy, now man who caught the lizard took it on tour. Old Rip met President Calvin Coolidge at the White House. He appeared on stage in Dallas. Eastland people felt Old Rip was city property and demanded the lizard be brought back to Eastland and sued. The lizard was brought back, kept in a gold fish bowl and fed ants. A year after his return his was found dead in his bowl. Of pneumonia, the papers said. He was embalmed and placed in a velvet lined casket. Old Rips story goes on but I’ll stop there. You can read about him on the internet.

Bypassing Cisco (3800 souls) and a couple of other small towns we arrive in Abilene, our “safe haven” for a couple of nights. Last night we had one hell of a thunderstorm roll through with heavy downpours- but no severe weather. Our Lab, Megan would argue with that statement because she is not a fan of loud noises- KaBOOM! We got our fair share of thunder and lightning last night. Megan shook like a leaf, poor girl.

We drove into Abilene this morning. It’s a true town of the wild and wooly West. Many folk of notoriety lived or passed through here. Do the frontier legend names Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp, Billy the Kid, Butch Cassidy, Pat Garret or Big Nose Kate ring a bell? Big Nose Kate, nah, but the others, yes.

Halograms Look Like Real People

We learned all about them and life at that time at the wonderful Frontier Texas Museum. Displays featuring those who lived here. Narrative was of their perspective during that period of time. Native Americans, the frontiersmen who basically annihilated the bison on the prairie, and the cattlemen who found the bison less prairie ideal for raising cattle. Housewives, saloon keepers, all told their stories. This was all done with the written word, videos in amphitheaters, displays sporting hologram characters in sets such as wagons, saloons, etc. that did a great job of explaining life back in the day. This is a must see place!

Everything is Bigger in Tejas!

We took a walking tour of old downtown Abilene. I wouldn’t say it’s special but it does have some interesting buildings and occupancies

Tomorrow we move once again. Yep, more severe weather predicted in the Abilene/Lubbock area. We’re heading northwest past Lubbock and into safer country. Until then, Via con Dios!

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