A journey not to be forgotten. I almost forgot!
09.06.2012 - 10.06.2012 37 °C
Bag End, Tuesday 19 June, 2012
A week ago, that's almost a quarter of our whole trip, we were waiting for our flight to Madrid. It does not seem possible that so little can be done in that same space of time when so much was done when we were away. Of course we had a day in Madrid (more on that) and the train journey home (yes, more on that too. Is there no end to all this excitement?), but not very much has been achieved at home, apart from unpacking and putting away (on reflection, quite an achievement) making as much fuss of Sofi as she has demanded (a heck of a lot) and getting rid of, and then getting back, a Summer cold.
Back to Del Rio, Texas, which, basically, and in Arthur's best purple prose, was a "dump". We should have come back via San Angelo, as suggested by Bob but, out of all the routes we took and all the places we have been to, getting just one wrong ain't bad. "Next time".
We mentioned we had a steak in a local "Manuel's Grill" and the only photo is taken half way through the eating of what were fabulous steaks (Bob's Rib Aaaaahee and John's Nooo York Strip. Best of the whole trip, though John had only had two, no three, including the steak 'n eggs at the Gold Nugget).
Our waiter, we thought, was probably a member of the local "royalty" and we speculated what an earth one could do for a fabulous camp night out in the clubs and nightspots of Del Rio. Nothing, came the reply! Poor s*d.
Next day (Sunday) we had a long drive ahead of us. Just over 400 miles, and non-Interstate all the way looked the best option. We would not bother with the "free breakfast" (of course these breakfasts they now provide are not free. Who the heck pays for them? Not the manager out of his own pocket!) and stop within a couple of hours at a nice little cafe for our last breakfast "on the road".
So we pulled out of the car park of the Hampton Inn which, though new and smart, had a few problems (noise from other rooms, and rooms not big enough for the furniture they pack in them).
And the only recognition Bob got for his now senior Diamond-Geezer-Status was this
Do you think I'm joking?
We have not made much mention of wildlife spotted on this trip except, perhaps, the coyote in Big Bend and some small deer in Kansas. We also saw a road runner with which Arthur was quite impressed though he did say it was nothing like his hero in the movies.
We had also remarked as we drove across Southern California, Nevada and into Arizona, the lack of vultures. We had seen one or two in Kansas but now they were beginning to build in number. Either it was because we were in the Texas countryside or because they sensed we were getting older by the day, but more and more hovered, circling over our car.
Stan was getting worried. And it suddenly got much worse when we go to the Border Patrol checkpoint about 15 miles "inland" from Del Rio. These are placed on all roads leading from the border and, when we were stopped before, it was merely routine and we were waved through, no doubt helped by John's best BBC Radio 4 accent, after a cursory glance at our passports. However, there did appear to me no entry stamps nor that card you give up when leaving the USA. Very odd.
This time, the same almost happened but then, this officer-type appeared from the office and became very unhappy with our passports. We were waved into a holding pen and told to wait "for a few minutes" while he made a few calls. The few minutes turned into several minutes into what seemed like a very long time. Everyone else was being waved through, including old trucks full of men with big sombreros, huge mustaches, with striped blankets over their shoulders, swigging tequila.
The flocks of vultures increased and they started landing on the fence near us where they could keep a better eye on our pulse rate.
Were we due to be thrown ino a stinking jail full of illegal immigrants or, worse, walk the rest of the way, stalked by coyotes and vultures?
Suddenly the officer reappeared all smiles and, now, very personable. It was Sunday morning. He could not get through. Then they could not find John on the computer as having arrived in Miami. But, after another call, they did. There can't have been that many Ashplants arriving on that day?
So, 30 minutes wasted we got under way again. Leaving some very disappointed vultures behind.
After some more straight roads, we were looking forward to our breakfast, having got around 150 miles under our belt (Bob did a lot of the driving, some of it quite tricky on dead straight but bumpy ranch roads with a speed limit of 75mph).
We arrived in a place called Brady which looked to be the most likely candidate to get our breakfast. Yep, it had a very busy "gasoline alley" and a dead downtown. Gas stations, McDonalds, Sonic, KFC, Arby's, motels, they had everything, except anywhere serving breakfast. We blame the demise of the little cafe in American towns on the policy of those "free breakfasts" in motels.
So we ended up buying something called a "breakfast burrito" which resembled a wrap of teatowel-like material containing gloop which would perform well as wallpaper paste. And John succeeded in overheating them in the gas station microwave so it remained hot, no, continued to get hotter for the next couple of hours.
What a disappointment. And as we went back through the town centre and out on the Fort Worth road, there it was, a homely little cafe called "The Peppermill", roses round the door and an illuminated sign saying "breakfast being served". Grrrrrrrr!! Another 30 minutes had been wasted on the "burrito incident" so we could not afford yet more time on a proper breakfast, I'm afraid.
So then we had a lot more of these,
(note vultures still in attendance; they don't give up that easily) a lot driven by
with yet more of these:
until finally, within about 70 miles of the Dallas/Fort Worth conurbation, the towns started getting closer together and busier and the ranches smarter until they were "hobby ranches" with stupid gates, model horses and cattle and, of course, executive jet landing strips. Arthur says he forgot to take his executive jet.
Another Blog to come with any good pictures that can't be missed as well as our really enjoyable time in Madrid (we stayed where Barcelona footballers stay but they were not there at the time) and our train journey home.
Your comments have been so flattering it is embarrassing but very welcome all the same. Thank you all!!
STOP PRESS:- After complaining (of course) about our experience at the Hilton in Fort Worth, Bob received an Email full of abject apologies along with an offer of 35,000 Hilton points to be added to his Double-Diamond-Geezer account. Enough for a free night somewhere. It always pays to complain........