After leaving Louisiana, we went Northwest towards San Angelo, Texas. I get really restless in the car and so does my dog. We’d take as many chances as possible to stop for a break. Thankfully, I downloaded the Rest Stop USA app to my iPhone, which tracks your location in relation to all state owned rest areas. I was so thankful for that app! It lets you know if there are toilets, vending machines, and even WiFi at any given location.
In my opinion, Texas has some of the best rest stops/welcome centers in the United States. While most of the rest stops in Florida and Washington are small with a few picnic tables or plaques commemorating some event or another, the Texas rest stops are massive well-kept buildings with exhibits. The outside usually has four to five sheltered picnic tables with a full-size playground for the kids. And by the kids, I obviously mean my husband.
We were headed to San Angelo to meet up with some of our old ROTC friends who are stationed at Goodfellow AFB. Entering Texas also meant that I had complete my goal of visiting three states I had never been too! Another goal to check off of the 101 in 1001 list! On the way, we drove through Interstate 17. Driving through I-17 is like driving through my old hometown – farmland, farmland, farmland. The only difference is that in Lynden I would eventually hit “the city.” In Texas, you could drive through farms for hours and never see a single town.
They also have these brown signs for “Historical Landmarks.” The first time I saw one, I had been driving for a bit and was ready for a quick leg stretch. I thought, “What a perfect chance! I’d love to get a few photos of a great historical landmark!” I figured I’d turn off the road at some rest stop-like area. However, there wasn’t a whole lot of notice, a building, or even a turn lane, so I ended up careening off the road into a steep gravel driveway at about 50 miles per hour, screeching the brakes the entire way. We pulled to an abrupt stop, Ellie slamming against the back of my seat, only to see a tombstone marking the last Indian battle in the area. Not in the state, not in the county, just on that particular hill. Really lame site, if you ask me! Spencer made jokes about this incident the entire trip as well. Jerk.
The rest of the drive was beautiful, but uneventful. We found the campsite and set up camp. We were in a very solitary campsite in the middle of a Texan plain. It was 90 degrees, but very dry and very windy. We used the guy-lines off of the rain fly to secure our tent, since the winds were upwards of 15 mph. After the tent was secure we went to meet up with our friends for dinner.
Spencer opened the door for Ellie to get in the car when the unthinkable happened. As he closed the door, her tail wagged back and got caught. At the same time, the wind caught the door and slammed it hard. I was on the other side of the car, heard her yelp, and saw her tail. I yelled for Spencer to open the door and when we did she whimpered and whimpered. Spencer felt so awful.
At the restaurant, Ellie seemed much better. One of our friends, “R,” loves dogs and gave Ellie plenty of loving, which she needed after her tail incident. Her tail seemed fine, and was wagging like usual, though it was still tender to the touch. It was so nice to meet up with our friends again, and when we left Ellie kept looking over her shoulders, almost as if she was hoping that her new friend would come along.
When we got back to the campsite, we set up a nice fire and roasted marshmallows. I had a great time just sitting and talking with Spencer about life. This was our first vacation ever, and its nice not to have to worry about him flying or having to go to bed early to get ready for work or training the next day. We doused the fire at 9:30 after the wind picked up some more, and went to bed.
The temperatures were still in the 80s and there were wicked storm clouds moving in along with the 20+mph winds. The inside of the tent was too hot, since the rainfly had trapped all the heat inside. I almost slept for an hour before waking up. We put water on our heads, necks, thighs, and armpits in an attempt to cool down. Between that and the wind hitting the side of the tent, I woke up nearly every hour. At 6:30 Ellie and I left the tent for a bathroom trip, and then attempted to set up for breakfast. I was excited since I was going to finally be able to use my cast iron cookware. The clouds began to roll in hard around this time, and before we knew it, it was raining. We attempted to cook breakfast during a break in the rain, but the coals burned too quickly making it hard for the cast iron to heat and cook the bacon.
By the time the food was done it was filled with dirt. The rain was threatening to fall as the clouds hung low in the sky. We huddled behind the car to hide from the wind while we quickly ate our bacon and eggs. I rushed to clean the campsite as Spencer started taking down the tent. Sure enough, as soon as the rainfly was off the tent the rain started coming down. We hurriedly and poorly packed the car and left the site – no shower, no coffee, and little to no sleep for the second night in a row.