We’re Hooked on Texas,Y’all
Our lodging highs and lows happened in Texas. Because our Texas drive was going to be the longest stretch of any state, we decided to break it up into four portions. We had originally planned on three which would have meant an initial 10-hour drive from Las Cruces, New Mexico to Austin, Texas. Instead, we made a long evening drive from New Mexico to Fort Stockton, Texas before the next day’s drive to Austin.
West Texas is mostly open land after driving through El Paso. Interstate 10 dips south paralleling the Mexican border and then heads east across the state. After a quick stop at a border patrol station outside of El Paso, we were on our way to 4+ hours of dark highway driving, made much more palatable by the driver-friendly 80 mph speed limit.
We had read that the best place for lodging along this route would be in Fort Stockton. In typical fashion, we searched for hotels as we drove and Dave made a call to a mom and pop motel and reserved a room for $45. Sounded great.
At midnight, we arrived to town, tired and ready for a shower and sleep. We drove through the main street and passed every hotel chain imaginable – Motel 6, Super 8, Best Western, Comfort Suites, Hampton Inn – the list goes on. We kept driving until we found our little motel at the very end of the hotel strip. Let’s just say I was ready to turn the car around and head back to the Motel 6.
We paid our $45 and got the last room available. Chairs lined the sidewalk in front of other rooms so I had a hunch some people may live in the motel permanently. I’m so happy all we were doing in that room was sleeping. My flip flops didn’t come off until I hit the sheets in our little full-sized bed. The room was overall clean, and the bathroom recently remodeled, but this isn’t where I would chose a family vacation. I was overjoyed when 7:30 a.m. rolled around and I could pack up.
I was never so happy to be back in the car. (Note: I realize this is going to be a common thing when we start traveling to other parts of the world. It was good mental preparation).
We then started our real Texas adventure and headed to Austin. We stayed with overly generous friends and family in both Austin and Houston. It was such a treat to be in a real house and have the creature comforts of home again (and a washing machine to finally clean our smelly clothes!).
Austin was another place I was really looking forward to on this trip. I hadn’t been before and everyone I know raves about it. We had a great time exploring the Austin back roads – beer tasting, wine tasting and sightseeing. The city is young and alive and was a great place to recharge. Dave even left with a UT hat on his head and a pretty constant “hook ’em” sign he threw out.
The highlight of our Austin adventure was a trip to The Salt Lick, a mega-BBQ ranch on the outskirts of the Austin city limits. This place is insane. A parking lot as big as an amusement park, picnic tables lining the lawn as far as you can see and smoke pits as big as the wheel on Wheel of Fortune (anytime you spin it, you land on something good and smokey). Even better, it’s BYOB so you see people hauling in coolers filled with their drinks of choice.
Austin lived up to all our expectations. Live music on every patio we visited, great food and friendly folks. Thank you to our hosts Vicki and Brian for showing us the city!
After eating too much in Austin, we headed to Houston to see my cousin and her husband for more BBQ. On the way, we drove past Jozwiak Road and had to stop for a quick picture. It’s rare to see my maiden name posted ANYWHERE.
We arrived in Houston to a smoker full of brisket, chicken and ribs – smoked for 18 hours by the other Dave. Hands down the best BBQ we had thus far. Thank you Dave for cooking and Steph for working hard on all the fixings. Best night of sleep I had on the trip.
We left Houston for New Orleans for more indulgence…more to come on our time in the Big Easy!
- Cranky Frank’s BBQ in Fredericksburg
- Tasting at Real Ale Brewing (only open on Fridays from 2-5 p.m.)
- Dinner, drinks and live music at Guero’s
- Walking to the top of Mt. Bonnell for sunset overlooking Austin and a bottle of sparkling wine
- Drinking the Super Texan at Flat Creek Winery
- The Salt Lick (of course)
- Sampling Round Rock Doughnuts
- Having a few beers at the coolest beer bar / liquor store / brewery, Whip In