West Texas Road Trip: Day 1
We left on Friday after a fantastic lunch of brisket tamales at Emelia’s in The Colony. Our first port of call was Mineral Wells, described in the guidebook as a “winning town.” I beg to differ. Its first impression was that of a rundown, depressing place. The welcome committee was made up of boarded-up houses, empty shops and deserted streets.
The Baker Hotel, along with the Bat World Living Museum, is one of the town’s attractions. The 1929 building is a prepossessing building. The ugly chain link fence around it and the graffiti that defaced its walls could not entirely ruin its stately look. The cacti growing on the eaves contributed to its air of poignancy.
It was time for the next town. Palo Pinto is a few miles from Mineral Wells. It is so small that only the Main Street is paved. We wanted to visit the County Jail Museum Complex but it was closed. It sounds more grands than it really is: a handful of restored tiny historic constructions. It closes at 3 pm, in case anyone is interested. The park across the street is rather nice. It has a tabernacle and, according to a fading sign, it is forbidden to park inside.
We pushed on to Wichita Falls. This city has a rather deceiving name: it’s nothing like Iguassu Falls or Niagara Falls. Rather, the local falls are man-made (the original, natural ones were destroyed by a flood in 1886) and 54 (16 m) feet high. However, we weren’t disappointed because the whole point of coming here was to see these artificial falls. They are located in Lucy Park, which is quite a nice place for a stroll (but not when it’s over 100 F (38 C)!)
We spent the night in WF. Sean found a nice Greek restaurant called Salt and Pepper, where the food was very good. The highlight of the night was our waiter. As it turns out, he plays rugby at college, which is rather unusual as rugby is not the most popular of sports here. He was so delighted to hear that Sean was Welsh and played rugby at school that he sent a beer “on the home team.”
I slowly came to the realisation that this road trip was not about visiting spectacular landscapes or seeing breathtaking views. It was about slowing down, listening to people’s stories, appreciating the small things that make life worth living.