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Author Topic: Texas Tropics and Texas Mountains (the trip out)  (Read 1337 times)

The High Plains Traveler

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Texas Tropics and Texas Mountains (the trip out)
« on: November 25, 2013, 06:09:18 PM »

A summary of our recent (late October to early November) 18-day, 3300 mile trip, named for the Texas trail routes we found ourselves on. We pulled our RV travel trailer along behind us.

Route (and cities stayed in):
Starting in Pueblo, east on U.S. 50 to Lamar, south on U.S. 287 to (Amarillo). We stayed on the east side of Amarillo, so we followed Loop 335 and took I-40 back to the center of town when leaving.

Commentary: Instead of our usual route of I-25 south over Raton Pass and U.S. 87 east to Amarillo, I thought I would try using U.S. 287 to avoid the climb over the pass. It gave us a chance to see the new Boise City bypass, and if I hadn’t found the detailed commentary on the signage here from last year, I would have been disappointed that I couldn’t easily stop and document what a bad job ODOT did in signage. Approaching the old route through town, you see an all-text (no route shields) sign in small type with way too much information to assimilate. The 287-385 markers for northbound traffic from the town at this intersection are on Oklahoma state shields. Further east, the only interchange built for this project somehow omits two of the most important highways I would be looking for (U.S. 56/64) and only shows U.S. 412 and OK-3. But it has an exit number tab – in Clearview – over a sign with Gothic text. At Amarillo, the project to rebuild the overpasses just north of the city has progressed since we came through here last year.  Different bridges are now bypassed by routing highway traffic down the interchange ramps, and the cross roads here are closed. 

Route: I-27 south to Loop 289 at Lubbock and Spur 331 to U.S. 84 east.  At Snyder, we turned south on TX-208 to (San Angelo). To reach our RV park, we took the freeway loop marked as U.S. 67, which then becomes Loop 306. Leaving town, we took Loop 306 to U.S. 87 at Eden, then south on U.S. 83 to I-10 at Junction. I-10 east to (San Antonio) (to reach park we drove I-35 north from downtown for a short distance).

Commentary: I’d like to know the accident frequency along the two-way frontage roads that parallel I-27. Those off- and on-ramps seem like potential locations for serious collisions if someone neglects to yield to ramp traffic, and also could contribute to wrong-way entrance to I-27. The interchange at I-27 and Loop 289 in Lubbock is rather odd; there are parallel roads to both roadways that intersect in the middle of the interchange, with stop signs in one direction, providing access between the routes. It’s rather confusing and not well-signed. So, to go east on 289 I first had to stop for the 289 north parallel road, and then had right of way to turn left at the south parallel road.
I will note here that Texas has enthusiastically extended the 75 mph speed limits to most of its roads. TX-208 south of I-20 goes through a hilly area that made me question the appropriateness of that speed for this road. I’d have to drive it in a passenger car to make my mind up.

I have to wonder why Loop 306 isn’t posted concurrent with U.S. 67 at San Angelo. That would make it a true loop. At Junction, I noticed that gasoline was about 30 cents higher than we’d seen it up the road in Menard. Seems like the stations are gouging motorists who are filling up before heading west across the desert.  In San Antonio, fortunately, it was Saturday, so I was able to maneuver the rig through downtown and its very complex interchange, and the unanticipated lane drops once I entered I-35.

Route: I-10 east and I-410 south to I-37, then at the edge of Corpus Christi U.S. 77/I-69 south. I-69 posting ends at Robstown, a few miles down the road, so U.S. 77 south to Harlingen. TX-100 east to (South Padre Island).

Commentary: About all worth noting here is the beginning of the I-69 signage. The highway from I-37 is posted as I-69, with an END sign on the south side of Robstown where the freeway ends. Between there and Harlingen, there are several interchanges under construction. The only I-69E signage was on overhead signs at the U.S. 83 (I-2) interchange. Perhaps it’s a distinction without a difference, but it’s not clear where TX-100 turns into Park Road 100 at South Padre. It’s marked with the Park Road signage north from the intersection at the east end of the bridge, and the 100 designation also appears to go south from there to the county park. Park Road 100 terminates at a sand dune north of the town. We declined to drive the beach, since the sand drifts I saw at the beach entrance would have high-centered my off-road, 4WD pickup.

Local trips at South Padre Island: We drove down TX-48 to FM-511 and then east on TX-4 to its end at Boca Chica Beach. This is the southernmost point to access the Gulf in Texas,  and I entertained the idea of driving my truck down the beach to the Rio Grande. It was over three miles, and after a short distance we stopped. Not much to see anyway. We then drove back through the first of several Border Patrol stations. They put the station here so they didn’t have to patrol the beach itself as the agent explained, and after a perfunctory look in the back of our truck we went on towards Brownsville. We then turned south on FM-1419. This is also called “Southmost Blvd.”, as it’s the most southerly road in Texas. Along here, we saw the current incarnation of the border fence. It can’t follow the river itself because the river is very bendy. Rather, it is built along and south of this road, with openings so the land inside it can be accessed for farming. There are gates on some openings but not others. We drove through one of these ungated openings to a nature preserve (Sabal Palm Grove) located near the river. As we went through the opening, there was a Border Patrol car watching vehicle movements through. Are they there all night?

Return leg of the trip in next topic.

"Tongue-tied and twisted; just an earth-bound misfit, I."


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