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

Past Adventures

Texas Panhandle 2006 - Part II

The sights include :   More Texas Courthouse Photos, the Tex Randall Statue; Once Again, the Cadillac Ranch; the Alibates Flint National Monument; the Lake Meredith Aquatic and Wildlife Museum; Rock Hunting and Wine tasting in Mason, TX; and Bandera Fossils.

Forward :  (As always, click on the picture for for a larger image and click on the links for photos surprises.)

          Thanks for coming back for Part II of this little road trip adventure.  If you reached this page without reading Part I of The Texas Panhandle 2006, then please click on the link below :

The Texas Panhandle 2006 - Part I

Otherwise, please read on.....

Star Date 03/17/2006 - Friday

     The Alibates National Flint Quarries :

          Finally, the site we had really been waiting to see and explore, the Alibates National Flint Quarry.  I had tried to visit it the last time we were out there, but unfortunately, they could never accommodate us on they schedule we had on our Texas Panhandle - 2003 Adventure.  However, first things first.  First, a few more Texas county courthouse photos :

Deaf Smith County Courthouse - Hereford, TX

Randall County Courthouse - Canyon, TX

          While driving on the back country roads, we noticed that the local farmers had just recently harvested their cotton crop.  I must have counted at least thousands and thousands of huge cotton bales the size of truck trailers.  Is there really that big of a cotton market?  Then while making our way through Amarillo, we had to stop by the ole' Cadillac Ranch to see the latest graffiti on Stanley Marsh's Cadillac's.  Unfortunately, we forgot our cans of spray paint :

Line Them Up

The Latest Graffiti

Support Our Troops

We Love Our Moms

After our quick visit to this unique outdoor art gallery, we noticed the billboard while pulling out.  Unfortunately, we had no time to eat there, but, that place sure does bring back memories.....

          We finally left Amarillo and traveled north on Hwy 136 for about 25 miles and soon reached the famous Alibates Flint Quarries to our west

          First, a quick note on the Alibates National Flint quarry so you can understand and appreciate what is happening here :

     Along the sloping canyon rims of the Canadian River Valley in the Texas Panhandle are signs of an industry that has spanned the course of human history in North America. Small pits and literally tons of stone manufacturing debris bear mute testimony to perhaps 13,000 years of quarrying a brilliantly colored stone known as Alibates flint. So prized was the material that prehistoric hunters traveled—or traded—over distances of a thousand miles or more to obtain it. Projectile points and other tools made of Alibates stone have been found in sites as far north as Montana, as far south as Central Mexico, and east to at least the Mississippi River.

     Archeologists for years have puzzled over the scale and range of prehistoric activities that created these remarkable sites. It is likely that some workers in search of flint merely picked up exposed chunks or cobbles lying on the ground. In fact, knappable cobbles of Alibates have eroded down the Canadian River into western Oklahoma and as far as Fort Smith, Arkansas. Other, more enterprising, workers chiseled boulders directly from the bedrock. Their quarrying activities left holes ranging from small depressions to broad pits ranging from 5 to 20 feet across and up to 2 feet deep. But what catches the eye for hundreds of yards beyond the pit perimeters are the quarry waste piles and tool-making debris blanketing the hill slopes: thousands of quarried chunks, tested cobbles, flakes, and tools in various stages of production.

     Although termed "flint," the stone is technically a silicified or agatized dolomite occurring in Permian-age outcroppings. These deposits, exposed as slightly undulating layers, are unique to the Panhandle area. But regardless of what the stone is called, none of the terms captures its startling beauty. In hues and tones of the evening sky, colors range from pale gray and white, to pink, maroon, and vivid red, to orange-gold and an intense purplish blue.

     Patterns in the stone are varied as well. Bands of alternating color create stripes and a marbled effect. Researchers have speculated about the statistically significant occurrence of red Alibates in sites, and whether the color might have invoked magical connections to the blood of animals. Clearly it was the exotic appearance of Alibates flint rather than its workability that attracted prehistoric toolmakers. Modern-day knappers report that the material has a resistant quality and hardness which makes it more difficult to flake and shape into tools than other stone, such as the Edwards cherts found abundantly in the Edwards Plateau to the south.

          We followed the signs to the Ranger Station and waited for the rest of the group who signed up for the tour.  After a few more minutes of waiting, we hit our vehicles again and followed Gene, our tour guide, to the secret flint quarry location and began our hike up one of the hills.  We would stop from time-to-time while Gene point out some unique feature along the path to show-and-tell about.  From the top of the hill, we could view the Canadian River Valley below.  Gene pointed out the first Indian flint quarry and from there, we were free to roam about as we pleased.  The following flint and landscape photos were obtained :

More of the river valley below photo 1.

More of the river valley below photo 1.

Alibates Flint 1,     Alibates Flint 2

    Alibates Flint 3,     Alibates Flint 4

    Alibates Flint 5,     Alibates Flint 6,

Boulder of Alibates Flint,     Alibates Flint with Quartz 1,   

 Alibates Flint with Quartz 2,      A National Landmark Marker

          Gene stated that the park rules strictly forbids the taking of any flint from this National Monument.  Although I had found some of this beautiful flint from our Texas Panhandle 2002 Adventure, to this area, I really had forgotten the road cut we were on back then and how to get back to it.  So I asked Gene where I could legally get some of this material to tumble polish for my collection.  Gene suggested we try the Lake Meredith Aquatic and Wildlife museum in Fritch, TX.  That sounded good to me so after the tour, we hiked down and off we went to Fritch.  But first, for more information on the Alibates National Flint Quarry, please see the link below :

The Alibates National Flint Quarry

     The Lake Meredith Aquatic and Wildlife Museum :

          We left the park and continued north on Hwy 136 and found the Lake Meredith Aquatic and Wildlife Museum just to our left at the first stoplight in Fritch, TX.  As you can guess, the museum specializes in the aquatic life of the nearby Lake Meredith and the wildlife surrounding the lake.  Unfortunately, the aquariums were closed off for maintenance, however, their wildlife dioramas were quite nice :

Wildlife Diorama 1,    Wildlife Diorama 2

and Wildlife Diorama 3

          I inquired if they had any Alibates flint for sale at the gift shop and I was in luck.  As we picked through a bucket of flint, and a gentleman by the name of Greg Arms stopped us for a moment and asked if we were interested in any more samples that we had already pulled aside.  Well, heck yea!  Greg stated he lived about (4) miles away by the lake and had found plenty on his land to sell us real cheap.  We paid for some of the flint we picked out and for the usual souvenirs  and followed Greg to his house (Just joking Greg) and picked up another three pounds from him.  Here's what we wound up with :

My Alibates Flint 1,     My Alibates Flint 2

My Alibates Flint 3,     My Alibates Flint 4

My Alibates Flint 5,     My Alibates Flint 6

          For more information on the Lake Meredith Aquatic and Wildlife Museum, please see the link below :

Lake Meredith Aquatic and Wildlife Museum

          With some more of the afternoon to burn I talked Bill into going on a few more Texas County Courthouse photo hunts and after gassing up again, we obtained the following :

Hutchinson County Courthouse - Stinnett, TX

More County Courthouse - Dumas, TX

Potter County Courthouse - Amarillo, TX

          While in Amarillo, I stopped by the Rock Hound Supply shop.  Unfortunately, they were closed.  However, for more information on the shop, please se the internal link below

The Rock Hound Supply Shop - Amarillo, TX

          By this time, we had definitely lost out light and decided to head on back to our lodgings in Plainview.

Star Date 03/18/2006 - Saturday

     The Long Road Home :

          Both Bill and I woke up well before the light of day to get back to each of our homes at at a decent hour.  Since we both have a long ways to drive, especially me, we said our good-byes and headed our separate ways.  I really was planning an uneventful trip home as I met the early morning sunrise before coming into San Angelo.  However, during one of my refueling stops I got out Melinda's Texas rock hunting book and read about fossils to be found within the city limits of Brady, TX.

          Therefore, from San Angelo, I continued on Hwy 87.  I noticed that Hwy 87 was littered with road kill of deer as I made my way into Brady.  Once in Brady, I pretty much wasted a good 45 minutes trying to find any kind of road cut as described by Melinda in her section concerning fossil hunting in Brady.  That's right, a big waste of time.  At least it was a good stop for some breakfast.  If you come across that section in her book, then just read on and don't stop!  Now, I know there are fossils to be found in and around Brady from different stories that I have heard and read.  But no such luck for me today.

     A Quick Stop In Mason and Mason County :

          I still had quite a bit of sunlight, so I read on in Melinda's book about fossils to be found in road cuts north of Bandera, TX.  But I first had to get through Mason county and Mason, TX.  The ranchers out here sure do have a sense of humor.

          Hwy 87 between Brady and Mason continued to be littered with dead deer.  I'm willing to bet that more deer were killed by vehicles than bullets that past week.  I think someone is out there leading them to their death.  Soon, I drove by CR 1222, the road to Katemcy.  I turned around and drove into town hoping to find the Katemcy creek which was known to contain the Texas Topaz and Smokey quartz crystals.  I did find the site.  But, unfortunately the ranchers who own the land around it fenced it up to the bridge.  I got out Brad's Texas rock collecting book and read where you can hunt here, but to go to the near-by Camp Air Convenience Store to get a collecting permit which was located back on Hwy 87.  I really didn't have time for this, so I back tracked my way on out.  When I got back to Hwy 87, it looked like the Camp Air store was closed anyway.  So I continued on to Mason.

          While in Mason, I noticed a new shop or winery, the Sandstone Cellar Winery.   I entered the building and was greeted by Manny Silerio, the proprietor.  He introduced me to their 2004 Syrah, a wonderful dry red wine.  Without thinking about it, I had him ring it up for me.  Much to my surprise, it was quite expensive and this is why.  Do you see that back door of the inside of their wine tasting room and gift shop?  That's right, that's their production facility.  Meaning, low production, low volume, therefore, high price.  Don't get me wrong, it was great wine, I just won't buy anything that expensive again.  You know, being a poor college student again. 

          But, did you take notice of their label?  That right, they had that local artist Bill Worrell, the one who makes those metal shaman sculptures and jewelry.  I think he was also the one who made the shaman sculpture over there at Seminole Canyon State Park on the beginning trail to the ancient Indian rock art.  No wonder the wine costs so much, Bill probably is sucking up the bucks for every bottle sold with his shaman print on it.  Time to move on, but for more information on this winery, please see their website listed below :

The Sandstone Cellar Winery

     Bandera Fossils :

          I continued south on Hwy 87 and made it to Fredericksburg.  It was sure hard not to stop here but I kept driving south to Kerrville on Hwy 16.  It certainly was a nice day for all them bikers in the The Texas Hill County.  They sure were hogging up the roads everywhere I drove.   From Kerrville, I continued south on Hwy 173 until I reached a series of road cuts about 6 miles north of Bandera

          As I stated earlier, this is a site as described in Melinda's Texas rock collecting book.  At least this time, I hit pay dirt!!!  I Stopped at several road cuts at the following GPS coordinates :

                    First Stop :

29° 48.300 N and 99° 04.736 W

                    Second Stop :

29° 48.464 N and 99° 04.770 W

                    Third Stop :

29° 48.880 N and 99° 04.961 W

          You really had to keep your nose to the ground, but there're out there.  I was able to collect a bag full.  Here's a photo of some of the better specimens I found.  It was now getting close to 3:30 pm.  I decided to end anymore adventures for the day and headed for home.   At least I'll have a day to recuperate before class on Monday.  Hopefully, I can get the house picked up before then.

          I did miss a few thing while up there such as the concrete people of Canadian and a few more Gem Trails of Texas.  But hey, that gives me an excuse to go back.  Thus concludes this little road trip adventure.

       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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