Saturday, January 16, 2010
Wandering the Byways around Austin, Brady, Iraan and Safford
When you have a craving for some excellent Mexican food, stop by the Old House Cafe in Iraan. (Yes, that's spelled correctly.) We found this little cafe as we traveled US190 across west Texas. It's about 100 miles west of Brady. What a find! We noticed that the local families and working stiffs were chowing down on the Mexican buffet for $6.95. So, we decided a little local flavor was in order. And we were very pleased with the freshness and the quality. We'll stop again.
Actually, our lunch break was a part of our meandering through Texas, New Mexico and into Arizona over the past three days. Once again, to get a wider view of the country, we've been sticking to the U.S. and state highways and farm to market roads whenever possible. Texas offers an abundance of those choices. So, of course, we tried to find some that we had never taken. This included our trip out of Livingston west on US190, FM1696, SR30, 105, and US290. Then as we approached Austin we hit US 21 and then US71 on the west side. We decided this route was easier and more pleasant than others we've tried in and around Austin. After taking US290 west to Fredericksburg, we followed SR87 north to Brady this time. Yes, there were a few more turns in the road maybe, but exploring new routes keeps us entertained.
And that's where I guess I left off with my Iraan lunch story. Getting to our lunch stop on US190 was a peaceful ride on a sparsely traveled road. Just a few locals and us. We saw more goats, cattle and deer than humans. The vehicles that we did pass on the road were pickup trucks, every one equipped with a deer foil on the front bumper. (I guess that's what you call the large contraption that protects the radiator from an animal who decides to use the highway just in front of your vehicle.) The area wasn't completely devoid of humans, however. At least not as far as the signs indicated. Along our way, we saw some peculiar signs, strange to us anyway. You know those type of orange signs that you see along the road that warn of “Road Crew Ahead?” We came across several along highway US190, out in the middle of nowhereville, that read “Seismic Crew Ahead.” What's that mean? We looked carefully as we passed between one on the left and one on the right. But the only evidence of any "crew" were two large drilling rigs. We surmised that they were the "seismic" activity. Not knowing what the signs meant, we decided to research it later. The Internet, of course, provides plenty of information. Now we know that these seismic signs denote the newer type of gas drilling that you may have heard about. That is, they drill into shale. It's a part of the natural gas boom around the country.
After three days of taking the “back roads,” we traveled I-10 for a little while, about the only option in this far west Texas area. And, truthfully, this stretch of I-10 is okay for us. It's not heavy with truck traffic and is yet another part of that wide open space in the west that we like. This section of the trip put us out at at Lordsburg, New Mexico, where we jumped onto US 70 northwest into Arizona. Again, this is a road completely free of advertising and big trucks. There aren't even many towns. The mountain ranges are starting to appear as you wind north toward Safford, AZ. The shades of the desert change as you come around each bend and the sun hits the peaks and valleys.
We do like following the paths that add some variety to our journey. Hope you enjoy sharing them with us. See you down the road.