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

Past Adventures

Good-Bye Waxahachie & Treasures In My Back Yard  2004

The sights include : The Ellis County Court House, the Munster's House, the Fine Wood Carving Galleria, the Texas Motorplex, Scarborough Faire, Screams, the Catfish Plantation,  Getzendaner Memorial Park and a Hunt for Indian Artifacts and Fossils in My Own Back Yard.

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

          Well, I am almost moved outta here.  Though my house is still not sold yet, it is quite exhausting driving back and forth from college in the Houston area and back up here in Waxahachie.  I thought I would pause for a moment and reflect on just what I'm going to miss from living in the Waxahachie and Ellis county area. It may even sound like a road trip through memory lane for some. There's actually quite a few interesting sites and places that I have enjoyed in my past 14 years up here.  Even if you do not live in the area or you are one of those that I met on the road, this page just may make you give us a visit.  So let's explore some of them. 

Star Date : 07/07/2004 - The Drive back Home.

         Currently, I have been leaving Waxahachie on Mondays or early Tuesdays to drive down south to the south Houston area for my Pharmacy Technology classes.  I have also been using these trips to move my belongings down and I usually make the trip back home after my Wednesday evening class.  Unfortunately, on the last trip back up, my truck broke down on Hwy 287 just before the Texas Motorplex, the big drag race track.  I was only another 15 minutes away from home.

          I was never a big drag race fan, however, in my beer drinking days we would always go to the convenience stores in Reagor Springs to buy our brew.  Whether you were inside the store or outside the store, once the engines of those cars took off running, the vibration of the noise/shock wave would run right through you.  Bear in mind, the race track was still 2 miles up the road!  How can those fans take it?

          I looked up in the clear sky and was so disappointed with the few stars I saw.  There was too much light pollution.  Not like in the Big Bend area. Eventually, a tow-truck towed my truck to the local Thornhill Auto Group dealership and gave me a lift home. 

 Star Date : 07/08/2004 -The Ellis County Court House :

          I woke up early and made it to the Thornhill Auto Group dealership and got my truck setup for the needed repair work.  While in the area, I decided to renew my car's license tag which showed up in my mail while I was a way.  I hit the town square and made it to the county tax office across the street from the Ellis County Court House.

         I remember back in late 1999, I received a jury summons in the mail.  I thought, hey great, a little break from work and wound up at the Ellis County Courthouse.  I never did get picked for jury duty.  Probably because I recognized the defendant as a former Customer Service Representative with VarTec Telecom, Inc., my former employer.  It was a real interesting case due to a big huge black semi-automatic pistol I saw sealed in a clear plastic bag.

          Oh well, I walked out of the court house and noticed these faces along the outside walls.  They then became uglier and uglier.

          The story of the faces is the fact that an artisan from Eastern Europe was hired for the carvings to decorate the court house as it was being built in the 1880's.  The carver fell in love with a young beautiful women there and therefore he started to carve her likeness.  Unfortunately for the carver, the young lady wouldn't have anything to do with him, so he began to carve her into uglier and uglier sculptures.  The moral of the story, ladies, don't piss-off the artists!

          One cannot speak of the Ellis County Court House without mentioning the town square of Waxahachie.  The square does boast of plenty of antique shops, and a few good restaurants.    Currently, my favorite is the 1879 Chisholm Grill  located across the street from the court house on the east side.     They do have an old time Tex movie theater which now mainly caters to civic events.  Other interesting old structures still in use around the town square are :

City Hall

The Museum

The Old County Jail

Not to be confused with the original county jail just off Hwy 878 south of town from FM 287.

The Rodger's Hotel

The Sim Library

          Other significant structures include :

Southwest Assemblies of God University

and.....

The St. Paul Episcopal Church (The old church in the city)

07/09/2004 : My Tuck is fixed, The Fine Wood Carving Galleria and the Munster's House.

           This afternoon I received a call from the dealership and my truck was ready.  The fuel pump went out.  I ran outside to see if any of my neighbors could give me a lift to the shop.  Unfortunately, they were all at work.  Hum, maybe Buddy Bill could give me a lift?  I gave Bill a call and he said no problem. 

          Bill showed up and as we proceeded to the Thornhill dealership we passed by the Fine Wood Carving Galleria.  Don Rutledge, a former pro boxer owns the place.  he retired back in 1982 and originally set up his shop off of Hwy 287 about a half mile from where my truck broke down!  Now, it is on the west side of I-35 E. just inside the Ellis county line from Dallas. 

          The shop looks like a log cabin, but once inside, intricately carve animals and other critters are for sale along with rustic style furniture.  So, if you are into that sort of thing, stop by and give Don a visit.

          After picking up my truck, we headed back to the hacienda to get out of the summer heat and chew the fat for a while.  I don't remember how the conversation started, but Bill stated he had a friend who knew or was on good e-mail terms with Butch Patrick, who played little Eddie Munster in the 1960's TV comedy show, The Munsters.  Hum, I had heard of a lady in town who was so infatuated with the old TV series that she and her husband built their dream house just like it.

       We quickly got on the Internet and searched for related articles and lo and be hold, that house wasn't that far away from me.  We grabbed my camera and headed off to 3636 FM 813.  There, just north of town was the haunted residence of Sandra and Patrick McKee.  From reading the Internet articles, Steve Wilson of Mustang Construction was the builder of the house.  Steve was also the contractor who built Nancy's, my neighbor's house.  What a small world we live in.  We drove down a little further south on FM 813 the Corn Maze and for a few bucks you can get yourself lost in it.

          We turned around and on the way back to my house northbound on FM 813, we passed over this little creek, North Grove Creek.  I could tell Bill was becoming quite interested in this creek due to being an Indian artifact hunter and he began to question me about it.  Bill stated he had found Indian artifacts along creek beds near here.  I put on my thinking cap and all I could ever remember was Karen and Lisa would kidnap me and Justin and take us down there to party.  We hit Hwy 387/Butcher road and headed west.  If we had continued north, we would have hit the ole Rocket Cafe and we would have had to stop for their famous chicken fried steaks!  (I am surprised this little cafe hasn't been written up in the Texas Highways magazine.)  I tried to find the spot where we once secluded to, but it was unfortunately already developed over with new country homes.

           We followed some of the new road development and finally found a trail made by some utility vehicles to the creek.  We then proceeded to park and was able to follow the trail to the creek.  Ok, I'm feeling fossils here.  We then made plans to return early the next morning and I don't mean we were going fishing

Star Date : 07/10/2004 - Fossil and Indian Artifact Hunting

           Bill called me up around 6:30 AM and ask if I was up.  Of coarse I was, NOT!  Well come on over and lets check out that creek.  Bill's pretty good about getting up early for an adventure unlike some lady friends of mine.  Bill showed up all excited with his Mapsco map and showed me where he had some luck before just a few miles a way.  Thank God he brought me some breakfast, I was not in the mood to cook.  We loaded up the truck and headed on out.  The route was out of my neighborhood and south on Hwy 77.  Then east on Butcher Road.  Then a right on East Sharpshire Dr., a quick right on North Sharpshire Dr. and then left on West Sharpshire Dr. and all the way down to the new area of development.  Three minutes later (Thus the title of this page : Treasures In My Back Yard) we were at the creek.  How did I forget about this place after all this time of living here?  We parked the truck on the side of the street and I guess if anyone was nosy we could always show them our permit

          We hit the trail to the creek and quickly inspected an old wash bed about 50 feet from the creek itself.  Surprisingly, I was able to find quite a few bits of red granite.  I say surprisingly due to the fact that this is a limestone area and we were quite far away from any areas of exposed granite (150 miles).  This must had been some major river at some ancient time depositing off the erosional remains of the ancient  Ouachita mountain range which is now under ground between Dallas and Fort Worth and only pops out in the Texas Hill Country area and then again in Oklahoma and Arkansas.

          We finally proceeded to the creek and first worked ourselves down stream until someone built a dam and we had to come to a stop.  We had to be really carefull since we were on the edges of private property.  Then we worked ourselves upstream inspecting the wash's along the way.  We saw a few snakes and other critters.  While Bill was busy working on one wash, I pulled on up ahead and ran across this piece of Ferris brick.  Many of these old Texas bricks are now highly collectable especially with the name of the cities it was made in.  I have heard that the base of the Statue of Liberty was made from Ferris brick.  Although I had once visited her, I was too young at the time to remember now if true or not.  I did find a good hunk of Inoceramus shell.  As I continued, I found a foot print thus proving once again that the cave men lived at the same time as the dinosaurs.  And these were advance cavemen who wore either some kind of sandals or sneakers.   There were several faults in the stream which caused the water to break into falls.  Ok, they aren't real hoodoos made by wind erosion, but obviously by water erosion.  The limestone of these hoodoos showed evidence of ancient worm castings filled in with some kind of iron sulfate material.  Further on up the bank, I found another old collectable brick, but this time from the Palmer city brickworks.  I did find some more shells, red jasper and some milky quartz, thus proving once again my theory of some of these sediments were the eroded remains of the Ouachita Mountain range.  Lastly, is this some ancient Indian pottery or just some cheap junk from Mexico?

          I made it to this fork in the stream and decided to head on back to see how Bill made out.  Bill did find some fossilized hunk of bone, a variety of clams, and more Inoceramus shells and an ancient oyster in this creek wash.  Bill showed me another wash bed where here struck the mother lode.  Is this a possible artifact?  How about this piece of arrow head?  Obviously, another old brick.  I brought Bill up creek to the fossilized foot print and it match his foot precisely.  Therefore, this cave man wore a size 9 1/2.  It was now getting to be lunch time and the sun was making it too hot to be out any more.  Thus concluded our little archeological trip in my own back yard.

 Star Date : 07/11/2004 - The Catfish Plantation, O'Brian Airport and the Getzendaner Memorial Park

          Lunch time and it is hot in this house.  oh yea, when it rains it pours.  I have a leaky coil in my AC unit and it won't be fixed until Monday morning and unfortunately, I can't sell the house without AC.  I gotta get out of this house and grab something to eat since I am now living in an empty house with just an Igloo cooler for a refrigerator.  I don't even have a TV to watch my favorite show.

          During yesterday's little adventure, Bill followed a tributary of the Sanger (Another creek  on the east side of my neighborhood) across Hwy I-35 E on his map.  He was interested in this place due to a large number of bends which means more washes to check out. 

          It was time to check it out.  So I very carefully headed across the highway heading west on Sterrett Road.  I guess the area I really live in is Sterrett, now a ghost town.  As I crossed the rail road tracks, I noticed an old Pullman Coach by the Magma Blend manufacturing plant.  Why had I not seen this before?  Of coarse one cannot help but notice the big fireworks stand that  supplied me with many a fireworks party for the July 4th celebration.  I finally crossed the interstate and headed north on Sterrett Road to the Sanger Creek bends found on the map.  To my west, was O'Brian Airport.  O'Brian is the barnstormer we see flying around the neighborhood and entertaining us on good flying days.  He sure does love his loop-to-loops and twists!  Unfortunately, he doesn't land very well.  I never could find those stream bends, so I headed back to the Interstate.  Then, I saw the road to the Desoto Gun Club. 

          When folks would come over and visit, and we would relax out on the patio (By the way, Power to the Patio People), I always heard the same comments.  What's that noise?  It isn't the 4th of July yet!  No it wasn't.  It was the Desoto Gun Club across the interstate.   The club was established by a bunch of Desoto cops who needed a place to play.

          Ok, back to Waxahachie to find something to graze on and I wanted something more than just some snack food.  Hum, I wonder if the Catfish Plantation is open again?  It had burned down last Summer, but the owners stated they would try to rebuild.  Some blamed it on the ghosts that haunt it.  Yes, this place is haunted!  I enjoyed bring family and friends there and giving them the books of what people have actually seen or experienced.  the funniest entries seemed to always come from the children.  As luck would have have it, the restaurant had re-opened

          Ok, my belly is full now and I did not see any ghosts.  I guess the fire burned them all out.  As I headed back home, I checked out Getzendaner Memorial Park one last time.  Getzendaner park is home to the Chautauqua Auditorium in which many civic events are held.    Across the creek is Indian Trails where several Geochaches are waiting to be found.  Lastly, this park offers a 4.5 miles of bike and hike trails that leads all the way to the Lions Park near the Waxahachie Lake.  It looks like they dammed off a tributary of Waxahachie Creek to make this lake suitable for fishing and other recreational water sports.

          Upon leaving the park, I noticed the Baylor Community Hospital.  Yes, I was rushed there one late night whiles goofing around with my new pigeon throwing machine.  The doctors were wondering why I was skeet shooting at 2:00 AM in the morning.  Well, that's a whole another story!    

          I then decided to head out west on Hwy 66 from I-35 E.  After a few miles to my left was the Scarborough Faire in the Spring and the Screams Theme Park for Halloween.  I finally passed on by the Superconductor Supercollider Project.   What a shame!  All those billions of dollars spent to further science only to be wasted to what is now just a huge big facility out in the middle of nowhere!  Thanks to former President Clinton!  I continued further west on Hwy 66 till I got to Oak Branch Road and took a right turn.  Hum...  Some of you may remember just one too many parties at this house and at the Bobbi Sox Club.  I better turn back.

          Now, I must go.  I will miss you all.  But not the work or the weather!  So long and I wish the best to all of you!  (I miss this little guy already).

       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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