We left at 10:05 on Sunday morning which given the target time of between 9 and 10 was a success. However a trip to Walgreens set us back 45 minutes, for traveling supplies and a gift the three year old had spied weeks ago and kept reminding us that Santa was going to bring it to her. I assume at some point she’ll have more expensive tastes so I’ll treasure the rewards of shopping at Walgreens for Christmas.
Once on the road, we made good time and it was a beautiful day for driving. Wobbles, who wasn’t going to take a nap because she is a big girl, fell asleep at 11:25 and was asleep until Wichita Falls where we stopped for gas and lunch.
Since they completed the 287 overpass in Wichita Falls, there is nowhere convenient to just pull off and eat unless you like your sandwiches served by Subway in a Love’s Truck Stop. Which I do but we decided to have an actual lunch instead. The Back Porch Draft House is on 82 about 3 miles from 287 and convenient. It’s a small sports bar with a few other locations but fewer than Cheddar’s which was our goal in finding a non-chain spot. It’s not exactly classic Americana road trip stuff but is clearly appreciated by all the locals. The burgers are good and they have 23 oz beers including a few local brews, always a plus.
Once back on the road, it’s 3 and a half long hours from Wichita Falls to Amarillo, made longer by the not-nap nap happening before lunch. We entertained ourselves with Sesame Street songs, coloring books and decorating the car door with Paw Patrol stickers.
It was a beautiful West Texas winter day, 60 degrees and sunny with long vistas of the prairies only occasionally broken by the increasingly frequent wind farms. M wondered if I was against them after commenting that they clutter up the landscape. My feelings for wind farms are blasé. It’s not my land and not my vista. I assume they are a net good, surely more environmentally friendly than the regular coal trains that one also sees on the tracks to and from Amarillo. But then tell that to the hawks or the bats or the whatever else that get knocked out of the sky by them or the landowners with neighbors who put up hundreds of them. Coal plants are surprisingly unseen and therefore easier to forget but the wind farms are right there, everywhere, as you drive along. Like the oil wells of my childhood, they are now part of the landscape and I suppose nature will adapt.
Towards the end of the drive, the skies filled with geese. The winter wheat fields of the Panhandle are perfect places for them to stop over on migrations though I think many of them are resident at this point. One of these years I’d like to come up and do a goose hunt.
We arrived in Amarillo at 5:00 PM with plenty of daylight. Six hours in the car is the limit for Wobbles (and everyone else in truth) so she was thrilled to jump into the arms of eager grandparents. We unwound for a bit and then went to the Amarillo Botanical Gardens for the last night of the Christmas light show there. Get there early if you ever go, all of Amarillo likes to attend. The entire gardens are strewn with Christmas lights, flashing PVC structures and Santa Claus projected onto a wall directing a symphony of holiday music. It’s a very human experience, in part because of the universal joy holiday lights seem to impart on the human soul and in part because you’re rubbing shoulders with 500 of your closest friends as you stroll through the park.
The remainder of the night involved getting an overly tired, recalcitrant three year old asleep in a different house without anyone having a stroke.
- Gas: Exxon in Wichita Falls 14 gallons at $2.10 / g: $29.61
- Lunch: Back Porch Draft House Wichita Falls $59.26
- Snacks: 1 bag of Goldfish, a Perrier and a Coke Zero at Walgreens $7