We’re off once more! Can’t keep a good man down! It’s a bit of a spontaneous trip and we’ll serve a couple purposes by it, but we’re on the road again. And it feels good.
From Los Fresnos Northbound there really are only a couple options. For our trip to San Antonio we chose US-281 which cuts north from near Mission straight North to Three Rivers where it runs into I-37, which is a connector to I-35 which as you may know runs mostly straight north to our destination for this trip: Minneapolis/St Paul.
Our experience of I-35 from San Antonio to Temple has never been favorable. Theres a lot of traffic and a lot of construction — Austin TX is one of the fastest growing regions in the US and the construction nearby is commensurate with that boom.
We have therefore sought out other choices and the one we seem to like the most utilizes US-77 — someday to become I-69 — as far as Victoria, and then US-77 north to Waco where we can pick up I-35. The roads are typically good Texas secondary roads and the traffic whizzes along nicely. There are towns, and local sheriffs to worry about but the roads are good.
This trip we are actually leaving on July 4 — even though I’m posting this on the 11th — you know by now I never tell you where I am when I’m there. I always delay our travel posts for security reasons. And with travel on July 4 I prefer to be off the road early so our destination is Bastrop, slightly off route but a place with a reliable motel.
Most of the route between Los Fresnos to Bastrop is pretty flat. It wasn’t until we got within about 50 miles of Bastrop that we started seeing some rolling hills. The problem being that the scrub bushes were so close to the road that even though there were hills present, we mostly could not see them!
There’s a Buccee’s in town. So we fueled for $1.79. I expected on a holiday the price might have zoomed upward but not the case. Every time we stop at one of this chain’s stores I’m amazed at the size of them and the number of customers they pull in!
Lunch for the day was at The Grace Miller Restaurant. TripAdvisor puts it as #8 out of 77 restaurants. But then they put Buccee’s as #3 — so TripAdvisor isn’t particularly discriminating — it’s more of a popularity test adjusted by weird algorithms! Still, the restaurant advertises itself as having been voted the best Chicken Fried Steak in Texas since 2006. I’m not sure about the claim, Seems as how the place we visited in San Antonio said something similar — but hey, who am I to complain?
I say that because we opted for the daily special — which happened to be the Chicken Fried Steak, and this is what we got for $7.95. My only complaint was the broccoli which had been cooked to within a smidgen of being mush. But the rest of the meal was actually quite tasty. The place was mostly full — at least the indoor seating. There are tables outside too but with temps in the mid 90’s no one was sitting outside!
It was a lovely day for a drive; enough clouds to keep the sun from becoming oppressive (as long as you were inside the car with tinted windows! Whether or not you consider I-69E to be a real Interstate or just US-77 with a fancy name (as the route is not yet up to full Interstate standards) we were only on Interstate for about 15 miles out of 330, the rest of the day was on US and State roads. I’m always amazed at how good Texas highways are. My only proviso being that is true as long as you are confident in your ride. There are a lot of roads with not a lot of traffic and in this kind of heat some of the lesser travelled ones do not lend themselves to roadside assistance! Still, the slightly out of the way route keeps us away from I-35 until Waco — meaning we avoid the congestion between San Antonio and Temple. Always a good idea in my mind.
So, there you have day one of our latest road trip. Tomorrow will be another hot one — temps in the mid 90’s again — so we’ll get an early start and try to get off the road as early as we can just on generally principles.