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South Texas Tour – Day 1

By: Travis “Blydawg” Blythe

It has only taken 18 years since my brother turned 16 and was old enough to legally drive, for us to take a trip together along with our dad. Don’t get me wrong, we have all done a ton of separate trips and met together in D.C. one year, but the three of us have never taken a trip together, just us guys.  Seems pretty odd, since we have been taking cross country trips since I turned 16, but living in different parts of the country does make it hard sometimes.
So here we are, taking a trip soon to become legendary, the Blythe boys, Travis “Blydawg” Blythe, Brett “Bubba” Blythe and Don “Old Skool” Blythe, two brothers and their father. We decided to take a south Texas tour and show my little brother what Texas has to offer.
Leaving Ft. Worth, we headed south towards the town of Hico, TX (pronounced Hi-Co) where our first stop was the Koffee Kup restaurant. I have been stopping here on my way to Austin for over 5 years and I love this place. They now have a banner from the Texas Monthly Magazine as one of the 50 Best Burgers in Texas for 2009. Unfortunately, we arrived early and had breakfast, which as always was pure awesomesauce! I am definitely suggesting to ThunderRoads Texas to add this place for the Points Across Texas Program!

We stayed in Hico, and went over the Billy the Kid’s Museum. Legend has it he actually was killed in New Mexico. You can Google that story; however, this town believes he actually moved here and lived to be an old man. They even tried to prove it, but didn’t convince the New Mexico government, so says Ms. Sue Land the Curator. So we have two places where tourism thrives on the dead outlaw. By the way here in Hico, they believe (according to the real Billy the Kid) he really only killed 9 people and not the reported 21, and one of those was self defense. This is a great little place and the curator is just Awesome to be around and full of great knowledge. She told me to bring at least 100 bikes to town next time and she will throw us an old west style party complete with Billy, saloon girls and cowboys. How can I turn that down?

We left town and headed south to our next destination. Along the way we encountered our first bit of bad weather. We had been chasing the rain all day and it finally caught us about 30 miles north of Burnett, TX. So we donned our rain gear and pushed on. Note to self, make sure you check your gear before you leave; I didn’t realize that I grabbed two right handed gloves for the rain gear (I have two sets). Ummm…yeah, wearing a glove upside down is a tad bit uncomfortable and makes it a wee bit difficult to pull the clutch lever.

We arrived to the Falkenstein Castle and the sun was actually starting to emerge. Just outside of Burnett, TX is the Falkenstein Castle. What an awesome site this is, a freaking castle in the middle of Texas. Although you can’t drive up to it, there are a few places to get some great pictures.

We drove down the road to Marble Falls, TX where we were in search of one of the great Hamburgers in Texas. Well, a disclaimer should be said here if you follow Ride Texas Magazine, it appears the 10 Best Burgers which are voted on. Plain and simply don’t go anywhere this magazine recommends when it comes to food. I should have known when they listed Whataburger in the top ten, something was up. I am not knocking Whataburger, I believe out of all of the fast food burgers this is my favorite. However, we searched out #4 on the list, Storms restaurant and were greatly disappointed when it turned out to be a copy of Sonic but with a hamburger theme. Hoping to sit inside and relax, we left and moved on to another “Must Eat” place in Marble Falls.

We arrived to the Bluebonnet Café. Another “Must” eat at place according Ride Texas magazine, they even had all of the hoopla and awards since 2003 from the said magazine all over the walls. Being hungry (Bubba gets grouchy when he is hungry) we were stoked to try this place. We all concurred and we do not recommend you get the burgers here. Although the pies looked awesome and huge, it appears those are the claim to fame at this place, they have a pie happy hour. Unfortunately we didn’t have any pie; we choked down our burgers and took off.

Back on the road, we headed further south, things are looking up, as we can see the sun off to the west and we know we are heading that way. Our next pit stop was the famous Luckenbach, TX. Upon arriving to Luckenbach, it was everything we know and love about the place. Friday evening and there was a good gathering and random musicians playing. We sat and listened as one guy grabbed his sister and a guitar and played the famous Luckenbach song as we sang along. I gave my brother the total Luchenbach experience and I think he actually liked the place a little.

We finished the day and headed to Kerrville, TX and settled into our hotel, the Bestwestern. I am glad they have on the sign, “New beds to rest your head”. Yes thanks for that, we need the rest.

Of course our day was filled full of humor and good times. Some of the funny moments have to be watching Bubba shift to neutral then proceed to stomp on the shifter to get the very high revving engine back in to gear and out of the middle of the road, while curing profanities the whole time. Then there was me, missing my eye with the eye drops and squirting them right on to my shirt instead. I also had the two right gloves and Bubba’s rain suit was a tad bit too small, the big banana coming at you down the road. It was only fitting his pants were flooding as we rode in the rain!

Starting tomorrow, we tackle the 3-sisters loop!

Texas Bluebonnet Ride 2010

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!