As you can probably tell already, I have a very non-traditional family. We all really enjoy taking off on our motorcycles and traveling. So in the spirit of staying true to our tradition, we decided to skip the “normal” Easter Holiday festivities and go riding on the bikes. What originally started as a tour of blue bonnets turned into the usual over the top ride planning by yours truly to get the “total experience” of the area.
So, as I always do, I researched the area to find the “lost treasures”. I searched high and low, looking through Roadside America, Ghost Towns and Weird Texas. I managed to find a couple of interesting places to see which coincided with our planned route.
We departed Denton, Texas on US HWY 380 heading west. Our first stop was Decatur, TX where we were to find the “Petrified Texaco Gas Station.” From US 380 exit on FM51 and turn left. Follow to the T-intersection of US 81/US 287 business and turn left again. You will find the gas station just around the curve on the right hand side. E.F. Boydston built a gas station in 1927. In 1935 he decided to cover its exterior with chunks of petrified wood. He later covered the walls of his next-door cafe and motor court as well (it is rumored, one of the motor court cabins was rented by the infamous Bonnie and Clyde a couple of weeks before they died). This landmark signifies the contribution to the early auto boom and was one of the first gas stations where you could also camp out at night.
Once we took all of our photo’s to remember this place by, we made our way back to US Hwy 380 and headed West. Once we got to the US 287 interchange, we took US 287 North towards Wichita Falls, Texas. Not much to mention here, this was pretty much a “haul ass” leg to get up to Wichita Falls to jump on the “Blue Bonnet” roadways.
Upon arriving to Wichita Falls, we took the Texas 325 SPUR north (exit 3b) towards Sheppard AFB. Turn left at Burkburnett Rd/TX-240 west. Instead of listing the whole route, that is kind of boring, I am just going to tell you from here the roads we took to get to St. Jo, Texas. Turn left onto FM1177, right onto FM171 (at Byers, TX make sure you stay on FM171. follow the signs through town), left on FM2332, left on US 82 (east), in Nocona, TX turn left on FM103, left on FM2953, and continue on FM677 into St. Jo, Texas.
Along that route, there are plenty of interesting things to see, there are a few orchards with rows and rows of some seriously old trees, plenty of Texas cattle, old abandoned houses and in Spanish Fort, Texas there is a very cool abandoned high school that was built in 1924. Now the only occupants are a few horses grazing on the playgrounds behind it and many of the windows are broken out. This poor town is close to becoming the next casualty of time passing it by and ending up on the list of Texas ghost towns. If you actually continue down the road and don’t turn into town, you will find a couple more really old buildings, which are broken down, falling apart and close to rubble.
I know we took this route a little early, but it is not Easter in Texas without Blue Bonnets. I have heard this route is littered with them and both sides of the roads just literally look blue. However, on this day it was not the case. We finally found our elusive Blue Bonnets in St. Jo, Texas. Oddly enough they were growing in a Texas Historical marker site and graveyard. Poor St. Jo, the original settlers were killed soon after setting up camp by Indians in 1874. This particular cemetery held the original members of the town. It was sad to see that a couple of them were civil war veterans who survived the war only to be slaughtered by Indians.
Our next site was actually just down the road. If you continue on FM677, proceed through town and just out of town, you can not miss the road side art. Apparently some not so famous person, built a bunch of “art” and placed it on this piece of land. The art consists of a wooded fan arrangement, a windmill looking contraption, two cactus made out of iron and wood that look like goal posts, five sunflowers made out of engine parts and five peach colored VW Volkswagen bugs. It was rumored that the bugs were to be painted a different color every year, but they still appear to be the same color as they were in 2004.
From here we continued down FM677 to FM455 to FM1655. Once we got back to US287 we traveled back East towards Decatur, Texas until we picked up Hwy380 and took it back to Denton, Texas.
This is our 2010 Texas Blue Bonnet ride. It is almost 300 miles as laid out above. If nothing else it is a great back roads ride, with plenty to see, lots of twists and turns and hills. If you take this route, let me know what you think.
Safe Travels, God Speed and Keep the Rubber Side Down!