On the Road to Kerrville

Rather than spend several hours on a soul-killing interstate, I decided to take SH-67 south out of Dallas. Unlike most years, this time there was a mood dampening lack of spring flowers. My temporary funk got better when I made it beyond Midlothian and saw the first patches of wildflowers just past the town of Venus. Most years they are so abundant you can't pass a field or open space beside a road without seeing them in profusion, but this year, they are few and far between. Drought, too much rain, an off year - I don't know. They'll be back next year. Or the next.

SH-67 remains 4 lanes through Alvarado, Keene, Cleburne and reduces down to two before arriving in Glen Rose. The small town of Glen Rose, population 2,200, is the dinosaur capital of Texas and home to Fossil Rim Wildlife Center. http://www.fossilrim.org/ Now there's a special place for me because Fossil Rim Wildlife Center one fine fall day at sunset, on a hilltop overlooking the watering hole where exotic wild animals were coming to drink, just happens to be where I was fortunate enough to stand next to a very beautiful woman and exchange I Do's. Over twenty years later she is still my wonderful wife and has proven to have just as much patience, understanding, and commitment as beauty. And that's been a very good thing.

Glen Rose is also where this road starts getting interesting and the land starts to pretty up. Lots of room, mesquite trees, not many people and not much traffic. BFT's stereo sounded fine as I cranked it up a bit and played my favorite tunes on my IPod. You ever see people driving their car and sitting there just singing away, off in their own little world acting as if nobody can see them? I plead guilty along this stretch of road. It doesn't get much better than this.

Just past Chalk Mountain, it's time to head south on SH-220, another little 2-laner that is even less traveled than what I just turned off. There's not even any little communities along this stretch of the road, but it doesn't take much time to reach the town of Hico (it's pronounced high-coe) and connect with US-281 going south. Hico, population 1,341, is a nice little town that bills itself as the north entrance to the Texas Hill Country, but what Hico is probably best known for is that it was the 1940's home of Ollie P. Roberts, aka Brushy Bill Roberts, who gained nationwide fame for claiming he was actually William H. Bonney - Billy The Kid. Before Brushy Bill died in Hico on December 27, 1950, he spent the last years of his life trying to prove he was the famous outlaw and to obtain the pardon promised him by the governor of New Mexico. He made some pretty convincing arguments. Sam Donaldson narrated an ABC documentary about his claim and Robert Stack did a segment on Roberts in 1990 on the NBC television series Unsolved Mysteries.
Could the history books be wrong? According to the Hico Chamber of Commerce, several relatives, including a son and grandson of Sheriff Pat Garrett, claim he never killed The Kid. There were no reliable witnesses to what body was actually placed in the Kid's grave and the Garrett family holds that Garrett and the Kid plotted to collect the $500 reward offered for The Kid.
Next to the Brushy Bill marker on North Pecan Street, is a large statue by the sculptor James Rice of Billy the Kid firing his gun. Nowadays, downtown Hico, sporting the Billy the Kid Museum on South Pecan Street, is a restored Western community with businesses appealing to tourists. There is an artist studio, antique stores, restaurants, and a leather shop. There is free musical entertainment downtown on Saturday nights and the Jersey Lilly Restaurant provides free horse-drawn buggy rides.
But Hico is still a good ways from Kerrville so I passed on through, continuing south on US-281, very much enjoying the scenery and relative solitude along the well-maintained road,  traveling through the occasional sparsely populated communities and the towns of Hamilton and Evant. Finally, pretty much in the middle of nowhere, I connected with Hwy-581 and headed west, passing over numerous little creeks and not much else until arriving in Lometa, a town big enough to have a convenience store where I stopped for a Dr. Pepper and the potty break I should have stopped for back in Evant. There's not much in Lometa, but my bladder was glad to get there. The restroom was fairly clean according to small town convenience store standards. Even so, I recognized the sanitary advantage of being a guy able to stand at such a time.
Just west of Lometa, Hwy-581 makes an abrupt turn to the south for a while and then dead ends into Hwy-580 which continues southwest for a couple of miles. It's a little confusing here because 580 abruptly turns north, which is not where I wanted to go, so I caught Hwy-501 just before 580 cut north. Hwy-501 is a continuation of the same scenery I had been riding through for the last couple of hours and I was still enjoying it. You have time to think about things on a drive like this so that's what I did. I'm glad to report I solved several of the world's problems along with fixing the country. The only thing it will take will be for me to be elected king. And then I didn't think any more; I just sang songs out loud and looked stupid doing it.
Eventually I arrived at Cherokee. For some reason, even though I have never had any affiliation with the town, I like Cherokee. It's a pretty little unincorporated town, population about 175. At one time, it had over 500 residents and a college, but that was back in the late 1800's and the number of people has decreased and the college went away since then. The houses are well kept and the few buildings in town are in relatively good shape and it just seems to be a nice, quiet place to hang your hat. Or maybe I just like the name Cherokee. In town, I turned off of 501 and took Hwy-16 south. I'm getting closer to Kerrville now and starting to get a bit tired so I'm looking forward to getting checked into the hotel and maybe taking a short nap.
A few miles down the road comes the town of Llano. The pickup and I are both hungry so when I spot the Llano Dairy Queen next to a gas station with gas for $3.66, I stop. I used to get the Steak Finger Basket whenever I ate at DQ, but since my little health event, I have to watch what I eat. Deciding that fried steak fingers dipped in white gravy, French Fries and buttered Texas Toast was not the healthiest choice I could make, I went with just a hamburger. OK, maybe that's not the healthiest thing one can eat either, but I was in Llano and I doubt there is a lot of healthy-type food choices to be had there and besides, I wasn't going to spend 30 minutes driving around looking for some place called Earth Mother's Bountiful Blessings or some such so I ate a hamburger without cheese and with mustard, not mayo and I didn't even have fries with that. A girl named Sharon took my order and kept smiling at me the whole time. Hmmm, maybe I look good to a stout small town girl with ketchup and sundry other stains on her blouse. Probably any guy would. Now wait a minute. That's a mean thing to think and I should have been ashamed of myself. I'm sure she's a very nice girl just being nice to a customer. I did notice however, that when other people's food was ready, she called their number and they came to the counter to get it. She hand delivered mine and stood beside my table smiling. "Is there anything else I can get you?"
"No, this looks fine. Thank you."
"Ok, but if you need anything at all, just let me know."
That's when the little devil guy that sits on my shoulder pipes in with, "Well now, Mr. Man, this is interesting." It's sure been a while since anything like this has happened. Am I reading something into this that isn't so?

"Dude, why are you even wondering about this? It's not Sandra Bullock so you know you're not going to do anything about it even if there's an opportunity there so just pretend, yes, she wants you bad, make believe you still got it and feel good about yourself."
And that's exactly what I did. When I finished my burger, I told Sharon thank you as I walked out the door. A couple of minutes later I was still smiling as I filled up my truck with gas. Yeah, baby, I still got it!
(Please click here for the first entry in this series.)