Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Roadtrip Summer 2011

I went a Road trip from July 26th to August 10th. The goal was to head to see my sister at Philmont Scout Ranch outside of Cimarron, New Mexico.

July 26th- We woke up early and headed south. A goal of mine had been to see the relatively new Mercedes Benz factory in Vance, Alabama. The museum was very small and not especially interesting. I think that if I had been able to go on a factory tour the experience would have been more rewarding. After spending a few more hours driving we stayed the night at a La Quinta Inn in Meridian, Mississippi.

On Wednesday July 27th we headed west and toured Vicksburg National Battlefield Park that morning. We enjoyed lunch in downtown Vicksburg on the Mississippi River and visited the first location in the world to bottle Coca-Cola. It was not particularly interesting. We then headed back east to Jackson and visited the Old Capitol Museum which was a beautiful building that explores the history of the state. This was well worth the trip. Jackson overall seemed to be a pretty tired city with much poverty, at least the areas we drove through. After Jackson, we headed south on I-55 towards New Orleans arriving to visit a friend who lived in the city.

A nice picture with a random monument.
 A bend in the mighty Mississippi.

July 28th - We toured the WWII museum in New Orleans, where the Higgens boat was built. (soem say....the savior of the war..) We spent time exploring the city and having lunch in the French Quarter with another friend.
This graphic shows the size of the Japanese and German armies at the start of WWII compared to the US.
I recommend Tyler's Produce if you are in the New Orleans area.

July 29th We woke up early and headed northwest on I-10 stoping in Baton Rouge to visit the Louisiana State Capital . It was a very impressive building that is the tallest of the state captiols. It acutally looks like a 1930’s office building, (which it is) I also learned about Huey Long and with help, found the bullet holes on the wall where Huey Long was assassinated.

The bullet hole from where Huey Long was assassinated.
We had planned on stopping at Johnson Space Center in Houston however according to Yepl.com the last positive review was in 2009. Some reported that some of the exhibits had been moved and one person described the Space Center as more of a glorified Chuck-e-Cheese than anything historical or learning related. Because both of us had never been to Austin, we decided to just skip Houston. We did stop at a good Tex-Mex place and had some decent food. I tried to order in Spanish and when the waitress realized that I was just being a bumbling idiot who really did not know Spanish and was mearly an imposter, she moved quickly to English. After that, I just did not see any point in even pretending to know Spanish.

We arrived to Denise’s parents house in Austin Texas, who we would stay with for the next few days. They were wonderful!

On July 30th we woke up and walked around the University of Texas campus, thinking about the dreadful 1966 campus shooting and then walked through campus to the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential library. It was a beautiful building and the exhibits were very interesting. My favorite was about the rise of the various counter-cultures during the time of LBJ.
LBJ the teacher.

A seemingly odd exhibit at the LBJ Library.

I did not expect to find this shirt at LBJ's library,
or a picture of the famous bra burning!
Every Presidential Library seems to have a model Oval Office.

We stayed with my friend’s wife’s family and Denise’s gave us some excellent tips for Austin.
Places to Eat:
The best place for Breakfast is Amaya's. 

Breakfast at Amaya's, excellent!
-We also had breakfast at Amaya’s twice,  it was the best place for Tex-Mex breakfast I think I’ve ever been.

Trudy's  for dinner or lunch.
Trudy's lunch.

-We had lunch at Trudy’s one-day and it was very very good. I would suggest to anyone to eat there.

There are a TON of bats that live under congress bridge and people like to go see them come out at dusk.
Amy's Ice Cream

Amy's Ice Cream  on South Congress Street. If you get ice cream, get mexican vanilla with strawberries. Everything else pales in comparison. Denise's opinion was correct.

BBQ-The Salt Lick BBQ is also good.  We had wanted to go and eat at Salt Lick, but did not have a chance, fortunately they catered my friend Jesse’s wedding. There is little better in this world than Texas barbecue.

Jess's wedding
That afternoon, we attended the wedding of a friend of mine.

Outside the Alamo.

Even the Japanese are interested in the Alamo!
On the July 31st we went on a day trip to San Antonio to see the world famous The Alamo. Which was ok, but not expecially exciting. 

On the river walk.
We then went to visit the River Walk, which was a neat development inside the city connecting many restaurants and hotels. The River Walk was nice, maybe an engineering marvel, but was not exceptional and it seemed to me that I had seen this before. Plus it was incredible hot outside so it was time to move on. We headed back north on I-35 stopping at a  Whataburger for lunch and a Costco outside San Antonio.
The lowest mile Tucker in existence. 

A beautiful Franay bodied Dusenburg

The Marmon V16
  On the way in San Marcos, Texas I found Dick’s Classic Car Museum and of course, visited. It had a very nice collection of early American cars, especially Dusenbergs and the lowest-mile Tucker in existence.
On arrival back to Austin we toured inside the Texas  State Capitol. State Capital.  As we had visited a few state capitals already on this trip we had high expectations for each. The Texas State Capital is very large and the best part was getting our picture under the painting of George W. Bush.
It was hard to get a good picture of this, everyone wanted one.
August 1 – This morning we left Austin and headed north on I-35. We first had another meal at Amaya’s (Amazing) We stopped at the Dr. Pepper Museum in Waco. It was interesting but I would not suggest a visiting, but it is now checked off the list.
Out front of the Dr. Pepper museum.
Then we headed into downtown Dallas to visit Dealy Plaza, the infamous location of the assassination of JFK. The weather was incredible hot, it was about 106 degrees. This temperature only really allowed you to spend about 20 minutes outside before needing to find some A/C. The 6th Floor at Dealy Plaza was definitely worth the time. We spent about 1.5 hours there. It was a very emotional place when you think about what occured there.
The spot of the second shot.
Standing where Zapruder took that infamous footage.
After the Dealy Plaza Museum we headed west to Irving, I had always wanted to see the National Boy Scout Center and Museum. The museum was designed for a 8-15 year old and I would not suggest visiting unless you have one with you. Then we drove 3 hours to Abilene Texas and found a hotel for the night.

August 2 – We woke up and drove 3 more hours to Midland, Texas. We went to the Petroleum Basin Museum and the Bush Boyhood home

The Bush Boyhood home.
 The Petroleum Basin Museum seemed like it was stuck in the 1970’s with its displays.

The Petroleum Basin Museum
 However the new 2004 wing on the left side had a collection of Chaparral Racing Cars from the 1960’s-70’s, these make a visit to the museum worthwhile. The Bush Boyhood home was hilarious, it was just a regular house where the Bushes lived for 4 years in the 1950’s. It was making something ordinary into something extraordinary but people that believe in him as a politician and maybe trying to create more important historical places in Midland.We then headed north and stayed in Canyon, Texas for the night.

August 3 The next morning we went and toured the Palo Duro Canyon. 
Our ride for the "jeep" tours.

All smilies at the Canyon

That name says it all!
 We went to Tyler’s BBQ in Amarillo for lunch then headed west for Philmont to see my sister.We arrived later that evening at Philmont.

August 4- After an early breakfast at Philmont we headed west to Taos, New Mexico. 

Ellie and I in the garden of the Villa Philmonte
We visisted the very moving Vietnam Veterans chapel in Angelfire. I had never actually stopped and it was a very powerful experience.  In Toas we toured the Martinez Hacienda, It was an interesting place, but definitely not a AAA Gem. 
The Rio Grande Bridge.
We headed west to see the high bridge over the Rio Grande. For lunch we ate at the famed Guadalajara Grill. 

We then toured the Taos Pueblo, for the admission cost and what I had heard about it I was excited, but I found it to be rather depressing, with many indigenous people trying to eke out a profit. We then headed south for Santa Fe, the drive was incredible, the road stayed followed the course of the Rio Grande.

"Art" in the New Mexico state capital.
San Miguel

Vendors outside the New Mexico History Museum
August 5th – We stayed in Santa Fe and toured New Mexico State Capital. We went to the small San Miguel church and visited the New Mexico History Museum. The history museum was excellent and really could not be enjoyed in just one day.  We then headed back to the Super 8 in Taos for the night.

August 6th-  We drove back to Philmont, first exploring downtown Cimarron. Once back at Philmont we toured Waite Phillip’s residence, the Villa Philmonte. 
Ellie, Sarah and I in front of the "tooth of time"
We had lunch at the Philmont and said goodbye to my sister. Driving east towards Amarillo Texas. We had dinner at Rabbit Ears in Clayton NM. We arrived into Amarillo Texas late in the evening.

August 7th – We headed east on I-40 driving  to Oklahoma City and toured the Memorial and museum, this was another very emotional day and you just did not want to do anything after visiting. 
The Memorial, each seat is for a victim.
Another view.

This was located just inside the back entrance to the Murrah Federal Building. 

The license plate of the rental truck driven by McVeigh
We also drove by the Oklahoma State Capitol, the only state capitol with a oil well on the grounds, it was raining so we headed east staying the night in Ft. Smith, Arkansas.

August 8- Little Rock, AR
Out front of the Clinton Library.
An interesting look for Bill.
Little Rock Central High

Waking up early, we headed east to Little Rock Arkansas visiting the Clinton Presidential Library, Little Rock Central High School and the state capitol. The state capitol is a scale representation of the United States Capital. We then headed east and stayed the night in Memphis, TN.

Inside Graceland
August 9 - Arriving early we toured Graceland, this is one of those things you do once and probably never do again. An easy example of how money cannot buy taste. It is incredible to think how much money this places makes.
At the foot of a star

Then headed south east  back into Alabama to see the Tueplo Auto museum and the birth home of Elvis.  it was a funny experience to be in rural Alabama and  hear tourists from Brazil and Japan speaking in English to each other it’s about how important all this was to them.
Then we headed east and stayed the night in Huntsville Alabama at a La Quinta.

Hand in hand with Jack D.
Michael and I with a Cadillac Tow-Truck
August 10 - We went to the famous town of Lynchberg TN and toured the Jack Daniel’s Distillery. An interesting place, but by no means remarkable. We then headed east to Chattanooga and met up with my friend Michael and had lunch downtown then visited the world famous National Tow truck museum. We said goodbye to Michael and headed back to Hickory, briefly stopping just northeast of Chattanooga to see the new Volkswagen factory. 

Here is a map of our Trip: 

View Texas New Mexico Road Trip 2011 in a larger map

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