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We took a trip to Texas over the Easter holidays.  We arrived very late on Monday, evening and flew back again Friday, a  week and a half later. It was the first trip to Texas (and New Mexico) for both Ari and I, and it was Ian's first trip to the USA.  It was also the first time that Ian and Brendan met each other.

The one impression we bought home with us was BIG! There is just so much space, so far between things and the land seems so poor for growing anything.  Instead we saw a few herds of cattle (but not all that many), oil wells and some of the biggest wind farms we have ever seen.  From the general view picyites you can see how much space there was.  Most of our travelling was on fairly flat dual carriageways, with very little treaffic on them.  You can see that many of the hills are  flatish -  as if they are made up of layers of rock (which I suspect they are).  Alpine (where Brendan lives) is right at the very edge of  Texas close to the Mexican border.  It is also right on the edge of the barren scrub plains that made up most of our landscape.  One of the views shows the mountains just south of Alpine, on the Mexican border.

Most of the following text was written on the PDA while we were on holiday - although I have added a few bits to give it a bit more depth as I added the pictures.

We started taking pictures even before we arrived.  The plane flew quite a long way north on the journey, and we could see sea ice out of the plane windows.  It looks like we were passing right over the edge of an icefield, with bits of ice breaking off.  Is this global warming in action, or just the phase of some earth cycle?  A bit of both I suspect ...


We started off in Dallas and drove to Odessa. Stopped off at Abilene for lunch but couldn't find the center of town - had a Chinese meal for lunch. Abilene is, apparently the center of the cattle ranching and oil area, even though it doesn't appear to have a center of its own! We saw lots of little oil wells, and even an oil well scrap yard near a place called Big Spring. Sadly, we didn't see any long horn cows, just a few fairly ordinary cows. However we did see cactus growing wild and some small buttes / mesa.

However Odessa has its own stonehenge!  Literally an exact copy of the original Stonehenge in Wiltshire, built in sandstone on the grounds of the local university.  It was really strange looking at stonehenge in a foreign country surrounded by desserty type landscape.  To see more  pictures of Odessa's Stonehenge here at the Odessa history site.

Stayed at a place that was almost a traditional motel - room straight off of the car park. Walked around the mall, Italian fast food for dinner and then went bowling. Ian beat me first game [he bowled 140] that is the first time he has beaten me, and he really deserved the win. Its nice when your kids get good enough to win.


Breakfast at McDonald's then a bit of shopping before we set off for Alpine to pick Brendan up. On the way we stopped off at the Odessa Meteorite Museum. A big meteorite fell there thousands of years ago, and left a massive crater. Its pretty much filled in now, but it was an interesting visit. From then on it was lots of oil wells until we turned off the main road. Then we really saw 'big country' - hardly anything in sight for miles, except scrub and a few cacti.

On the way we saw a road runner, vultures, a couple of wild turkeys, horses and cows running wild. Oh, and Ian and I smelled dead skunk for the first time.

Stopped off in Fort Stockton for dinner and I had catfish. It was really nice - both Ian and Brendan tried some and liked it as well. Ari wanted to stay there, but I wanted to push on, even though Ari didn't think there would be a hotel. She was right. No hotel for over 100 miles. Nothing but one  gas station on the whole journey. However the scenery was amazing - high mesa, buttes, nothing but open country.  We finished up in a motel in Ozona.


We found a diner for breakfast then hit the road. It was only 200 miles to San Antonio, but it seemed to take forever. Stopped of at a nice little town called Boene and eventually found a restaurant [The Peach Tree] that suited us. They did a really nice low-carb kids plate for Brendan - meat and cheese rolled together with a selection of fruit - all laid out like a face. I had gumbo for the first time. Made San Antonio in the afternoon and went to see The Alamo. I was surprised that it was right in the middle of the city. I was a bit disappointed [although with hind sight, I shouldn't have been] I didn't think the museum bit was laid out well, nor were the exhibits exceptional - but there were a number of items that belonged to guys like Davey Crockett and Jim Bowie, and that was cool. We checked into the hotel, McDonald's for dinner, then went looking for a mall. The instructions from the guy at Macdonald's sent us all over the place, but eventually we found a Wal-Mart. We bought another  book for Ian, a toy for Brendan, a few basics and then home for an early night.


Six Flags Texas Fiesta theme park today - but we stopped at Jim's diner for breakfast. Ian had pancakes and just loves the idea.  I had grits for the first time, which tasted just like watery porridge. I added butter [as per recommendation] but it didn't do all that much for it. Mind you, a bit of salt worked wonders.

Then around the park riding rides all day. At one stage Brendan and I had three straight goes on the cars, with Brendan driving every time. The there 'restaurant' offers the worst excuse I have ever seen for fast food burger and chips, certainly the worst I have had in the U.S.A. And I am pushed to think of worse in the U.K.  Click here for the parks pictures.

We went to Outback for a decent steak dinner to make up for the poor lunch, then home and pretty much straight to bed.  We were all absolutely wiped out.


A 'free' day - and a really cold day with rain, and even snow in some parts of Texas, so we went shopping.  We got more books for Ari and Ian, a sweat shirt for Brendan and a few clothes etc. Then on to Natural Bridge Wildlife Park. In amongst lots of African animals we finally saw a Texas Longhorn Cow. In the evening we went to the cinema to see Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. We all enjoyed it.  Click here for pictures of all the animals we saw.

Easter Sunday

Seaworld today. It was an overcast day, so most of the water attractions were closed.  However, we saw the whale / dolphins show, a 3d pirate movie and a seal / sea lion show. Because it was overcast [which counts as awful weather in Texas] the park was almost empty, so there was no lines for the rides at all.  And the food was much much better than Six Flags. There were a few water rides open so we managed to get a bit wet, as you can see from the pictures. Then Ian and I broke a ride called the Steel Eel. It got stuck just before the highest part, and we had to wait until the train was evacuated, then we walked down the steel stairs at the side of the track. So another new experience for us both. Click here for the parks pictures.


We drove back to Alpine to drop Brendan off with his dad. A boring day with lots of driving. And a sad one too. We spent the night in Fort Stockton and had enchiladas and fajitas for dinner, and Heuvos Rancheros  (Eggs with chili salsa) for breakfast the next day.


We drove up to the Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico and saw loads of tumble weed blowing in the winds as we crossed the really dry plains that are good for nothing but oil and cows. We spent about an hour and a half walking around the largest caverns in the western hemisphere. It was interesting, however it was a bit long for me and way too long for Ian. The cavern entrance was at the top of a mountain, and the view over the surrounding plains was spectacular. all you could see was flat grass lands. It really did look like a sea of grass.  the first of the Carlsbad  images shows a cave that the early Native Americans used  as a shelter, they have found a lot of acheological bits and pieces near by.  The rest of the pics are us in  the caverns.  The picturess have been heavily manipulated, or else all you would see is blackness.  We only have a 'snaps' camera and it was dark down there!

Then back to Texas and on to another little town called Seminole - not much to recommend it, except we had the largest and best equipped room in a motel so far on this trip.


About the only place in Seminole for breakfast was a McDonald's in a gas station. And then to cap it all the ATM broke as I was taking cash. So not much money in my pocket - and worried that it already took the $200 from my account. Still, I'll worry about that later.  We are off to a town called Lubbock now.  (Dang! Never did check that cash withdrawal)

Round fields predominate.  The ground is so dry that crops need irrigation, they use a central water point with a long rotating arm loaded with sprinklers. Hence circular fields.  The closer we got to Lubbock, the less need for irrigation, so many more normal fields. We saw evidence of peanut, cotton and corn as crops.

'Is this the way to Amarillo?' had been in the charts again a short while before we came on this holiday,  and while driving around Lubbock we saw street signs for Amarillo - so we stopped and took Ian's picture underneath the sign.  You gotta do silly stuff while you are on holiday.

However, Lubbock isn’t finished - the ring road runs well outside the city, road works predominate, and signposts seem non existent. We gave up and headed straight for Abilene. We went to Chili’s for dinner [It is like a TGI Friday] and I ate Tilapia  for the first time. Tilapia is a pleasant, fairly firm, white fish - but the salsa that came with it was a bit too spicy for me.


A whole day in Abilene - the 'Frontier' exhibition in the morning, to learn about cowboys and pioneers, then on to play miniature golf in the afternoon at the oldest miniature golf course in Texas called Play Faire which seemed to be run by a very pleasant pair of old hippies. One game to Ari, one game to me, then off to a restaurant called The Town Crier for dinner. All mock Tudor beams and the Royal coat of arms - but no roast beef or Yorkshire pud. Still the food was OK. Ian tried root beer and decided that he didn't like it.

In the evening Ian and I went bowling again. Ian beat me two games to one - but I blame it on the head cold I was developing.


We americanified Ian - he loves pancakes for breakfast and we anglified Brendan, he now drinks 'proper' cups of tea, not just that horribly sweet iced tea they sell over there.






General Views







Odessa's Stonehenge




Carlsbad Caverns





Oil Wells






Wind Farms




Sea Ice



Odessa Meteor Crater