Feb 242020

After a comfortable night at the Hampton Inn in Roswell, New Mexico, we were relieved to wake up and find that the little green men that seem to hang out on just about every street corner in town had not abducted us in our sleep. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not, though. I mean, like, am I not pretty enough to take home to their planet as a specimen?

I was still under the weather so Terry drove east across the rest of the state and into Texas on U.S. Highway 380. It’s a good highway with some interesting landscape along the way to break up the boredom from miles of brush and not much else.

Texas was more of the same. A few scattered farms and ranches, and as many old abandoned places that someone finally gave up on or were pushed out of.

I would love to know the story of this once-beautiful old home. Obviously, whoever had it built was well to do at the time. What happened? Did they lose everything in the Dust Bowl? Was it some other calamity that made them abandon it? They say every place has a story, and I get a lot of story ideas from things we see in our travels.

We passed through several sad little towns where most of the storefronts were boarded up and wondered how people there make enough money to live on.

And what’s a small town without a grain elevator? I think every rural town has one.

I remember small town movie theaters like this from when I was a kid. Back then a quarter would get you in to see a double feature, with money left over for a bag of popcorn and a soda. These days even multiplex theaters in big cities have to work hard to make a profit. Everyone thinks they must be raking in the bucks hand over fist for what they charge at the snack bar, but I have known several small theater owners and with what it cost to get a movie, they are all lucky if they can break even on ticket sales, and quite often they don’t. It’s the overpriced candy, popcorn, and sodas that make the money to pay their expenses and keep the doors open.

Other businesses that have a hard time making a profit are small family run farms and ranches. More and more of them are being forced to sell out to big corporations every year. But there may be some help, literally, on the horizon. More and more of them are leasing land out to big wind farms to erect huge windmills that generate electricity. A USA Today story about windmills said the average farmer can receive $3,000 to $7,000 annually for the small area a windmill occupies, roughly the size of a two-car garage.

Now, I know everything is supposed to be bigger in Texas, and I guess this bull proves it, even if it’s not real.

We stopped in Throckmorton to admire the handsome Throckmorton County Courthouse. It was definitely worth getting a picture of.

The County also has a memorial to its veterans on the courthouse grounds.

This is our favorite way to travel, along the two-lane roads, far from the interstate highways and big cities. And even in what some might think of as barren landscapes there are photo ops and things to admire along the way.

We covered 460 miles before we stopped for the night at the Hampton Inn in Denton, Texas, which is far from a small town. We had planned to go south to Livingston from here to visit our dear friend Bonnie Bellomo, who lives there. Bonnie and her late husband Sal were among the first subscribers to the Gypsy Journal, and over the years they became close friends, helping us with parking and guest registration at many of our early rallies. But I didn’t want to give Bonnie this crud that I can’t seem to shake, and as it turns out, she has been sick, too. So we put that plan on the back burner until our next trip west.
Today we plan to make it to somewhere around Vicksburg, Mississippi. I love the history of that historic old river town and would like to spend some time wandering around exploring it before we go on to Tuscaloosa to see my son Travis and his wife Geli.

Congratulations Kevin Cauley, winner of our drawing for an audiobook of Big Lake Burning, the sixth book in my Big Like mystery series. We had 69 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon.

Thought For The Day – I am somewhere between the young and the restless and the old and the senseless.

Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  3 Responses to “Our Favorite Way To Travel”

  1. The Little Green Men are known to practice mischief. We were almost prevented from voting once. Our absentee ballots were sent to General Delivery in Roswell for us to pick up. You remember those days? Our mail was returned to sender before we got there. 2 days.
    It had to be space aliens, everyone knows the Post Office never makes mistakes!

  2. I drove from Rockport TX to Altoona IA one spring (workcamping to workcamping) on the back roads as much as I could. The boarded up Texas towns is what I remember the most.
    That was 6 years ago.

  3. Love to see the photos of the back roads and the small towns. But sad to see that so many stores are closed, signs of people moving away. Looking forward to following you to Vicksburg!

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