The Texas Road Runners !!!!!                

Road Trip Adventures, Roadside Attractions, Crazy DIY Projects, Texas Fishing, Rock Hounding and more......

Past Adventures

Texas Panhandle 2003 With the Chad and Buddy Bill

Sites visited were : Cap Rock Canyon State Park, Palo Duro State Park, more Gem Trails of Texas, the cities of Quitaque, Turkey, Lubbock and Amarillo, the Plains Museum,  Lake McKenzie, the American Wind Power Museum, the Texas Steak Ranch, Fort Griffin State Historical park, Possum Kingdom State Park, Mineral Wells State Park and more of those wild Roadside Attractions.

 What’s New? (As always, click on the picture for for a larger image and click on the links for photos surprises.)

     Though this page is dedicated to the Texas Road Runners' trip to the Texas panhandle, I did finally hit Scarborough Fair and made another Gem Trails of Texas expedition to the Cisco Area before the big trip.  Please see the embedded links for those adventures.

 Scarborough Fair 2003

 Gem Trails of North Texas 2003

    There is a new twist on hiking and collecting rocks and fossil by using a GPS unit.  Geocaching is the phrase used by hikers to hide a treasure in a weatherproof container along a trail.  The the coordinates are posted on :

http://www.geocaching.com

      The basic rule is : If you take something out, then you must put something back in.  Some folks have had their travel bug treasures moved across the country.  This is actually going on all over the world.  Check it out.

    Also, rock hounds are using the same principle on their hunts.  A good book to start on is "The GPS Guide To Western Gem Trails", by David Kelty.  Unfortunately, it does not include Texas.  I wish I had my Gem Trails of Texas Book and my GPS three years ago before making all my road trips.  Then I could help Brad update his book for the new technology.

    Oh, yes.  The new look of the site.  I hope you like it. Since most of us are Texans and we're traveling Texans......  I'll update the rest of the pages as soon as I can.  I will also try to give it a new web address like http://www.txroadrunner.net.

    Ah, this just in.  Apparently Dee and Russ were cleaning up and they had to move their sphere.  Mighty nice!!

     Well, on to the adventure and an exclusive interview with Stanley Marsh III.  Oh, by the way, we added a little humor this time.  Believe what you see, but don’t believe all you read.  I’m sure you will figure it out.

 Star Date :  06/05/03 – The Night Before

     Both Chad and Bill were excited about the trip.  Chad grew up in Abernathy just north of Lubbock and Bill had always paid special attention to the pan handle sights in the Texas Highways magazine.  The evening before, Chad came over to spend the night so we could get an early start.  Of coarse I put him to work on moving my slab saw to the patio.  Although it is still broken.  Now I have a bit more space to refinish my antique oak file cabinet and desk from the Auction Block Texas in Lancaster.  I went over the agenda and then we crashed for the night, for Buddy Bill was to arrive bright and early the next morning at 5:30 am.

 Star Date : 06/06/03 - Friday, Thursday, On to Lubbock

     Ding dong.  Sure enough, it was Bill at the door at 5:15 am.  He helped us finish loading up the truck and we finally made on the road around 5:45 am.  We had a lot of rain the night before and it rained all the way through the DFW Metroplex.  The early start gave us a jump on the rush hour traffic.  We simply headed north on I-35E and then headed west on Hwy 114.  We drove through an interest town named Aurora, TX which had an alien buried in its cemetery.  Unfortunately, it was still rainy and too dark to visit it.  But, there is always a next time so we pushed on.  By the time we got to Bridgeport, we were out of the morning rush traffic and had breakfast at the local Sonic.  We headed out again and I pointed out some areas I went fossil hunting at in the area.  As we pushed west, the skies began to clear.  Thank God, no more rain and it was nice and cool.  We past through Jacksboro, Olney and finally stopped in Seymour to stretch our legs.  Chad picked up the driving from here while I navigated.  Hwy 114 turned into Hwy 82. We drove through Benjamin which was the county seat for Knox county and through Dickens which is also the county seat for Dickens county.  Finally to Lubbock.

     Our first destination was the Cap Rock winery that Jean O’ Conner in Engineering so highly spoke of.  We arrived and took the grand tour of the facility.  They began the tour of where the trucks roll in and feed the grapes on a conveyor belt to the crusher.  Then the juice is fermented in these tanks.  After a certain period, the wine is then stored in oak barrels for further processing until its time to be bottled.  It is such a big facility that Llano rents space here for their wine.   We then went to the wine tasting room and bought our share of wine.  Hint, more Christmas gifts for some of you.   The Cap Rock winery is not that old and is a great facility to  visit.  They do have a vineyard but, primarily rely on grapes brought in from other parts of Texas.

     We then checked out our Lubbock guide and noticed that the Llano winery was not far away.  Llano had a nice facility also and a great gift shop.  We took their grand tour seeing where the grapes come in, where they are crushed, fermented in tanks and French barrels, the bottling area followed by more wine tasting.  They too had a vineyard but, also depended on other grape suppliers throughout Texas.  More wine souvenirs were bought and we were on our way again.

     This time I led the guys to the American Wind Power Museum.  This is another great place to visit.  They have to biggest windmill ever made here.  These guys spend a lot of time restoring these relics of the past.  They are always adding more.  Of coarse I had to hit the gift shop for another refrigerator magnet to add to my collection. 

     Lubbock also has a very nice city park, Mackenzie Park.  There's a few statues and we found the amusement park where Chad’s mom sent him to as a kid when she got tired of his lazy butt and needed to get him out of the house so she could get some peace and quiet.  The park also had prairie dogs.  They seemed tame enough and folks just fed them left-over bread.  Sometimes they had to compete with the birds.  However, I did know about monkey pox until I got back from the trip. 

     We then left the park and checked our guide again.  We then visited the statue of Buddy Holly.  We brought our guitars to the Buddy Holly Center to jam with him but, they said he had already past away.  Bummer.  The guide also showed a big antique shop which we stopped by to see if they had an old oak chair for my desk project. Unfortunately they just sold the chair I wanted. 

     We headed out north again on I-27 and visited the last winery in the area, Pheasant Ridge Winery.  This was the oldest one in the area and they actually grow their own grapes.   Lisa was a most excellent wine tasting host for the event.  After the wine tasting Lisa showed us around.  We got to tour the tank and barrel areas in addition to the bottling station.  Oh, Lisa…..  you forgot to give me some labels for me to use to make some candles to sell in your gift shop area.  I’ll call you later on it.  We noticed that they have won a number of awards so then we purchased more wine for gifts and were on our way again.

     Abernathy was on the way to the ranch house that we were going to stay at so we stopped and Chad gave us a brief tour of his home town.  We visited the local cemetery which was infested with more prairie dogs (Probably escaped from the park.) so Chad could say hello to some long pasted away relatives.  After this brief visit we headed further north on I-27.  I forgot my grill for an evening cook out so we stopped in Plainview at the local Wall Mart.  We then hit Tulia, infamous for the fake drug busts and drove due east on Hwy 87 through Silverton and Quitaque to the ranch house just outside of town.  We unloaded and by the time we started grilling Kip and Turret arrived from the DFW Outdoors group.  After dinner, we all crashed for the night and for the big Cap Rock Canyon hike in the morning!

 Star Date : 06/07/03 – Saturday, Cap Rock Canyon and Beyond

     We all woke up early and fought for the one bathroom to get ready for the day.  I had previously stayed here last August on my last trip up here with four other folks and should have remembered that there is only one bathroom.  Well we all survived and headed for Cap Rock Canyon State Park.  We grabbed a map.  Kip and Turret took a regular hiking trail with the others in the group while Bill, Chad and I took a creek bed that I hiked last year.  The creek bed wasn’t bad hiking last year, but this time it had rained making it muddy and a more difficult trek.  This time we went upstream.  We followed the tracks of a raccoon.  As we went further upstream we found the tracks of a snake.  Then the tracks of the raccoon stopped.  Hum, I guess there was a battle between coon and serpent.  It was a mighty struggle and in the end, the raccoon had his breakfast and life moves on.  So we moved on.  There was plenty of beautiful alabaster all around us.  But we left it alone.  About an hour later we headed back.

     We drove around the park some more checking out all the interesting rock formations, cliffs and other scenery.  Cap Rock has bison pinned up, but none were to be found on this trip except for these made of metal.  They were probably hiding in the back.  Though they had some rain recently, Lake Theo was still very much low.  We left the park, drove around Quitaque and explored the area including the Trailway head.  I wanted to show the guys the grave of the unknown cowboy but could never find it.  If someone knows the directions, please contact me.  Although quite dead for a Saturday, Quitaque had a motorcycle rally going and they even raced lawn mowers up and down the streets.  We checked out the town mural and was getting hungry.  I knew better than to try to eat at this place.  Actually, I wouldn't know, I never got my food from poor service the first time here.  We headed back to the ranch house for lunch and then referenced my Gem Trails of Texas book.  

     The book described a place off of Hwy 70 just north of Turkey, TX where alabaster could be legally obtained.   This was an easy drive.  On the way there we stopped in Turkey for a look around.  It was dead so we moved on to the road cuts on Hwy 70.  The first road cut produced nothing.  The rock/soil was all brown.  We needed to find the red rock and soil from which the alabaster could be found.  The next road cut was more red in color but, no alabaster just soft gypsum.  The next road cut was to a bridge.  It was red and white all over.  This just had to be it.  And it was.  We walked the creek bed both west and east and collected quite a bit of material for carving.  Chad made an excellent porter for bringing up all the rocks back to the truck. I will note this as my Gem Trails of Texas Part IV.

     After this successful hunt, we researched the book again and found out that Selenite is to be found around the Lake McKenzie Reservoir area.  We then headed back west on Hwy 86.  We noted an old operational drive-in movie theater between Turkey and Quitaque.  Just before we hit Quitaque, we ran into a dust storm.  We then passed through Silverton again which happens to be the county seat of Briscoe county.  They even had a neat jail house there.  Thank God I paid my speeding ticket because I really do not want to wind up there.  We then took 2017 north to the Mackenzie lake area.  The lake was made from an earthen dam from the Tule river.  It was amazing.  We found Selenite sheets and daggers in the white sand hills of the park.  From the distance, it looks like the hills were covered with shinny mirrors.  We collected several pounds and then referenced the book again and learned that red and amber Selenite could be found in the hills just north of the lake.  We set out and again to the hills seemed to be filled with red shinny mirrors.  We headed further into the hills and found amber colored Selenite.  We also inspected a poor deer that met his untimely death.  I guess I can make something out of this, though not a cow skull.  We really hit the mother load on this material.  I will note this as Gem Trails of Texas Part V.  But the rock hunting wasn’t over yet.  It was getting late so we hit the ranch house again.  Kip and Turret were already there and was about to head out to the Park again. 

    While I began dinner, Bill and Chad noticed the field behind the ranch house had been freshly plowed.  They searched the field by the and discovered a gold mine of Alibates Flint and Tecovas Jasper which were used by the Indians for making the tools and weapons out of.  Oh, yea.  Chad had found an interesting rock and called me over to inspect it.  "What is it?" he ask.  I said "You found yourself a nice piece of brick."  You know it was a great day for rock hunting when the bed of your truck is filled with rocks.  Hum, where are we going to put our luggage on the way back home?  We discussed what we could do the rocks.  I thought of some candle lantern and scone projects while Chad thought of a board for his chess pieces.  We ate and then crashed for tomorrow’s big adventure, Palo Duro Canyon!

Star Date : 06/08/03 - Sunday, To Palo Duro and Beyond

    Ok, another early rise and a big  breakfast.  There was a great sunrise outside.  We headed due west on Hwy 86 till we hit Tulia again which happens to be the county seat of Swisher county.  Then north on I-27 till we saw our turn off east on Hwy 217.  We hit Palo Duro, paid our fees, grabbed a map, declared our rocks in the bed of the truck and found the Light House Trail. It was quite a hike and I found it much easier this time around.  The trail showed some knock down gorgeous scenery of the canyons and cliffs and we met an interesting native.  One rock formation looked like a camel.  Finally we hit the stair climb up and rested half way.  We continued our trek to the Light House base.  The grade of the slope was just safe enough for the hike to the plateau.  Finally, on the top for another photo op.  We took a break and just awed at the canyon below.  We had conquered it and time to go back down the hard way.

    We turned the hike back to the truck into some fun.  Part of the trail allowed for horses and they left behind some of their business.  So we quickly covered it up with sand and hid in the bushes for our first victim.  Let’s just say this hiker in front got quite upset.  Hum, what can we do next.  Some mountain bikers did not yield to us as described on the park map.  Revenge timeBill hid in some bushes off the trail and hurled his walking stick into the spokes of our next victim.  Well it was war time between us and his buddies with a good ole fashion rock throwing fight.  Usually the winner is the one with the most rocks but there were plenty around.  I think we won due to this.  Later, back at the ranch house, poor Bill had to say good-bye to his trusty walking stick.  As we continued back to the truck, we saw where another trail connected but was blocked by a series of rocks to keep you on the path to the Light house.  So with pranks on our agenda now, we moved the rocks so our next victims hike to a dead end to a nearby cliff.  And we just got started.  Pretty soon we were no longer the Texas Road Runners but, the Texas Road Rogues!

    We got back to the truck and explored the park some more.  You could really tell that they had a lot of rain here.  We also found a replica of the old dug out houses used by Goodnight’s men as they settle in the area.  We then hit the gift store for more souvenirs and headed out of the park. 

    We checked out Canyon, TX and visited the Plains Museum which had exhibits profiling the panhandle area including the Indians, the rocks the Indians used like the Alibates Flint, the ranchers, and the petroleum industry.  They even had a model of Palo Duro Canyon and more windmills.  We also hit Kokopelli’s for some Southwestern and Indian nick knacks.  We bought a peace pipe and the proprietor of the shop gave us some interesting tobacco to go along with it.

    After our shopping we headed up north on Hwy 27 to check out Amarillo.   Between Canyon and and Amarillo were a huge pair of legs.  Be sure to check it out and read the Texas Historic marker by it.  Very interesting art work from Stanley Marsh 3.  We made it to the city and took I-40 west to the famed Cadillac Ranch.  This too, is another Stanley Marsh III creation.  Some folks out here are very patriotic.  This time we were armed with our spray cans of paint.  Each of us had to make our mark.  I did a few southwestern/Indian designs like a gecko lizard, a shaman and a snake.   After we took care of our business we drove around the city checking out Stanley's weird signs.  He has over 5,000 of them here.  We finally caught up with ole Stanley and he gave us an exclusive interview.

Click here for Stanley’s Exclusive Interview

     After the interview was over, we were starving.  So we headed back out eastbound on I-40 and stopped at the Big Texas Steak Ranch, home of the 72 ounce porter steak.  Free if you can eat it in one hour.  Valerie took real good care of us.   If your a good kid, then they give you one of these to play with.  We all had steaks which were the best I have ever had.  They had a band playing and while waiting on dinner we partook in some gambling.  After dinner we hit the gift store and we were on the road again.  We continued east on I-40 until we hit the bug ranch.  It is like the Cadillac ranch, but with VW Beatles.  So again we had to leave our marks.  The Chad had a lot of fun here and likewise myself.  I made my mark and even Bill got into it again. 

     We then headed further east till we got to Groom, TX.  This is the home of the tallest cross in the western hemisphere.  What a sight.  They had the 14 stations of the cross, a replica of Jesus’ tomb and a copy of the mysterious shroud.  You can even see Jesus’ face in it.  It looked like they were building a small church nearby but not quite sure.  Maybe a visitor center?  We boarded the truck again and headed for the east side of town where we saw a big huge water tower that was leaning.  Bill and Chad tried to push it back while I climbed up the girder and jumped up and down.  We finally gave up trying to fix it but it sure did sway in the wind.

     It was getting dark and we saw a great sunset.  So we headed back to the ranch house via south on Hwy 70 from I-40.  We crossed the Red river and some other areas described in the Gem Trails of Texas book but, no light to rock hunt.  We made it back, tried out our new peace pipe and then it was time to crash again.  Darn that bag monster.

Star Date : 06/09/03 – Monday, Back Home

    Darn, time to go home.  We all had work the next day except for the Chadster.  We got on the road about 7:00 am by taking Hwy 70 south from Turkey, TX and saw a few friends on the road. Then east on Hwy 114.  I let Chad to pick up the driving at Seymour, the half way point to the Dallas area.  We headed south on Hwy 283 to Throckmorton which is the county seat of Throckmorton county.  We then arrived at Fort Griffin State Park.  It was once again another photo op. of another Texas fort.  They did have a nice visitor center with many old artifacts from the fort.  Unfortunately not many of the buildings were well preserved except a few barracks, the bakery and its ovens, the well, the cistern and the parade grounds.  Some of the other ruins include the magazine, the sergeant's quarters, the Administration building and the library.  Fort Griffin Historic State park is also the home of the official Texas Longhorn heard.  They seemed pretty friendly and were a real ham around the camera.  After the photo op., we boarded the truck again and continued south till we hit Hwy 180.  We continued east on Hwy 180 until we hit Breckenridge which is the county seat of Stephens county.  We continued east and found Hwy 36 to Possum Kingdom State Park for a short visit.  Before we hit the lake area in Caddo, we saw this.  No duh?  Then we saw the biggest wheel barrel in the world.  We finally arrived at the park.  This park has a huge lake and a great camping facility.  We explored it some and of coarse raided the gift store.

    We then got back on Hwy 180 and continued east until we got to lake Mineral Wells State Park.  I mainly wanted to show the guys where I took my rock climbing class at.  From the rock climbing cliffs, one could see a great view of the lake.  We then left the park after a very interesting  conversation with the park ranger on who yields to who on the trail.  The ranger simply said to act like your going to throw a hiking stick in to biker’s spokes and they will for sure stop for you.  We all looked at each other and cracked up laughing.  We left the park and finally, bison across the road.  It’s about time we saw some after being in the plains of the pan handle.

    We finally entered the DFW area and had a little race with this hot blond chick in a white car.  I guess we won because she finally turned off onto Carrier Parkway.  We pulled in to my drive way and unloaded.   Another successful adventure.  Hum, what’s next?

       So, until next time, take care and I'll  See you... on the road, or in the workshop, (which is really just my garage) !!!!

                                                     Francis                        

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