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Author Topic: trip to Texas and back (very long)  (Read 2190 times)

brianreynolds

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trip to Texas and back (very long)
« on: May 20, 2012, 10:54:23 AM »

North Texas was my destination for last weekend.  Houston was my wifeís, so she could spend Motherís Day weekend (and a bit more) with her son there.  We left Hastings about 8:30 AM on Thursday.  Smooth sailing and a time zone change allowed me to drop Linda off at Chicagoís Midway Airport about 10:30 AM.  From there, I-55, I-80 and I-74 to Galesburg, then IL-41 and US-136 to Keokuk, visiting two new IL counties along the way.
In an earlier thread, I was advised that the Big River crossing at Keokuk was boring.  I didnít think so.  I wasnít paying much attention to the highway bridge, so I guess it might have been nothing special.  But the parallel railroad bridge and the nearby Lock and Dam No 19 provided plenty of interest.
The trip through Iowa was brief.  There was a point along the way where and oversized US-61 shield was displayed with and undersized US-136.  Nothing rare about that, but it always looks goofy.
US-136 to Unionville, then MO-5 and MO-139 to Hale, then local MO-J and US-65 to Carrollton   I was beginning to think that all of Missouri is rolling or hilly or mountainous, but the area west of Carrollton is very flat.  MO-10, MO-13 across the MO River, US-24 (a pleasant drive) and MO-7 to Harrisonville where I stopped for the night.  Eleven new MO counties for the day.
Back on the road early Friday.  I saw my first noteworthy RoadOCDGeek item of the day as I exited the motel lot.  At the US-71 interchange, the shield assemblies are all interstate-ready, complete with the blue directional tabs.  The only thing missing is the I-49 shield itself.  Along the road, it looks like it will be a year or so before the freeway construction will be finished.  The assemblies make it look like MODOT is a bit Interstate overeager.
The cheapest fuel for this trip was in MO and AR, about $3.35 or so.  The most expensive was near Midway Airport, way more than a buck higher.
My Prius offers a gentle reminder when an oil change is almost due.  Fail to act in a timely way and the gentle reminder becomes an insistent nag.  I was almost to the ďnagĒ point when I got to Joplin.  I spent about a half-hour touring and viewing the tornado ravaged area.  The extent of the damage is beyond description.  The clean-up is about 95% done, but the rebuild is only maybe 5%, maybe not that much.
I arrived at the Toyota dealership before 11 AM Friday.  They had just opened in their new building on Tuesday morning.  The service took about 30 minutes.  During that time, a salesman described the storm and immediate aftermath in vivid terms.  Thankfully, most of us will never experience trauma on such a scale.
Back on the road by noon, US-71 to MO-49 to Noel.  Beautiful resort area, and a road feature I had never seen before.  The road is cut into the mountain.  So?  Whatís new about that?  Well, it is kind of like a tunnel, but with one side exposed.  The mountain looms directly overhead.  Iím sure the remaining rock has been properly inspected by a qualified geologist, and pronounced safe and stable.  Still, it is a bit unnerving.  Sometimes gravity wins.
MO-90 and MO-43 to the tri-point, a good photo op, and the first time I actually broke out the camera on this trip.  Four more MO counties for Friday,
Then the famous duplex of AR-43 and OK-20.  AR-43 to US-412 to US-59 to US-62 to AR-59 to I40 to the OK Welcome Center near Sallisaw.  Three new AR counties along the way.  US-59, OK-9 and OK-82 to Talihina.  This was another pleasant surprise.  I didnít know that southeastern OK had such mountainous terrain and scenic highways.  However, I also was not making as much forward progress as I expected.  US-271 to Antlers, by which time I was running out of daylight. 
Oh, the things you learn along the way.  From an earlier visit, I knew that Fannin County TX is ďdryĒ.  With that in mind, I stopped at a liquor store for beer.  When I expressed disappointment at the available selection, the clerk said, ďYouíre not from around here are you?  This is all low-point beer.  If you want good beer on Oklahoma, bring it with you.Ē So, back on the road, in the dark, in the rain, into TX.  Six new OK counties for the day.
Stopped at Paris for fuel and beer, on to Bonham for Friday and Saturday nights, a wedding on Saturday.
Back on the road early Sunday, immediate destination Lufkin.  US-82 to Paris, TX-19 to Sulphur Springs (Iíll bet the Chamber of Commerce didnít name that town), TX-11 to Winnsboro, TX-37 to Mineola, US-69 to Lufkin.  I took the loop road around the West side of Tyler, but there was so much traffic and so many traffic lights that it probably would have been quicker to stay on US-69 through town.  Five new TX counties along the way, the last of the new counties for this trip
The plan was to meet Linda and her son and daughter-in-law in Lufkin at 11:30 AM.  It worked perfectly.  We had a really fine Motherís Day lunch and leisurely visit, then back on the road about 1:30 PM.
I wrote about this a few years ago on MTR, but it is worth repeating.  From north of Nacogdoches to Carthage, US-259 and TX-315 could and should be signed as ALT US-59.  It is a bit shorter, less traffic, better roads.
Approaching Texarkana, I am accustomed to US-59 to I-30 west of town.  I was surprised by a new connection south of town with Little Rock as one of the control cities.  It crossed the state line 10-15 minutes sooner than I expected.  I-49 construction is progressing well.
We wanted to avoid the I-40 construction mess east of Little Rock, so we took US-67 to Walnut Ridge, US-412 to Paragould where we stopped for the night. 
I-55 and I-57 to Kankakee.  It was about 3 PM local time, and we were concerned that traffic might be tight on I-80, so we sought local roads to I-65.  IL-17 and IN-2 through Lowell, with construction delays along the way.  There is probably a better alternative.  If we didnít save any time at least we save the toll.
Back home by 8 PM.  It is good to be home.

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txstateends

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Re: trip to Texas and back (very long)
« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2012, 04:46:45 PM »

Great post; despite your real reason for traveling, you managed to hit quite a few hot spots of our collective interest along the way.

I'm guessing Carrollton now is about the same as when I last saw it a few years ago (my grandparents last lived there).  For some reason, Dad always liked MO 10 on the way to or from Kansas City.  US 24 in between seemed much more interesting to me the one time I've been on it.

I've wondered about MoDOT's pace of getting the interstate upgrade done as well.  Hopefully it will all be to AASHTO (and their Beltway colleagues) 's liking by year-end, so those missing sign-placeholders can finally be replaced with real I-signs.

Amusing to see your experiences with dry/wet, especially in TX.  If I had $10 for every time I've had to explain TX liquor laws to a guest where I work, I wouldn't have to work again.  :-D  Interesting that Fannin Co. is still dry, as many north and east TX towns have let their dry statuses fall by the wayside in recent years.  Rusk, which you passed through going to Lufkin, voted yes to beer/wine in 2009, and just this past week voted yes to liquor sales also (only the 2nd Cherokee Co. town to vote yes to the hard stuff since Prohibition's end--the other voted yes to it 27 years ago).
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kphoger

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Re: trip to Texas and back (very long)
« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2012, 09:50:09 AM »

The road is cut into the mountain.  So?  Whatís new about that?  Well, it is kind of like a tunnel, but with one side exposed.  The mountain looms directly overhead.  Iím sure the remaining rock has been properly inspected by a qualified geologist, and pronounced safe and stable.  Still, it is a bit unnerving.  Sometimes gravity wins.

I've driven on one road like this:  Camp Bird Road outside of Ouray, Colorado.  The picture link below gives a good impression of the overhang but, when I drove it back in about 2002, there was no gravel on the road.  Back then it was just slick rock, rutted by rivulets, and wet from dripping water.  And I had never driven a Jeep before.

http://www.tlinn.com/images/travel/north_america/co/san_juan_mtns/2009-07/p7ssm_img_1/fullsize/52l._MG_2038.San_Juan_Mtns_fs.jpg
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