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My November Vacation 2021 Road-Trip

#TravelThursday continues now with Part 5 of my 7-part blog series on my recent 18-day road-trip between South Florida and North Texas.

Last week I left-off on Day 9 within the eastern portions of the Dallas Texas Metroplex (Collin County). I visited the Military Heritage Collection Of North Texas military museum, and then from there I visited the “Dallas” TV series museum – the Southfork Ranch. It was an interesting combination of military history and television history, and it was very appropriate in that I discovered the “Dallas” TV series in England in 1986 with my military dormitory buddies. It was “must-see-TV” for us back then.

Here’s what’s even wackier. During our guided tour of the Southfork Ranch, one of our tour guides went around the room and asked where each person or couple was from. I responded “Miami”, and a couple on the other side of the room did the same. We eventually met up outside on the front grounds of the mansion following the conclusion of the guided tour. The couple were actually from Homestead (same as me), and the guy worked at Homestead Air Reserve Base (same as me) for the same Wing. He left / retired a few years ago, and he and his wife moved to the Dallas Texas area. We actually knew some of the same people on base. #SmallWorld

After I returned back to my brother’s and sister-in-law’s house on that Friday afternoon I did not drive my car again until the following Friday morning. I enjoyed the day-to-day routines with my family, and we did the normal things that we always do during the week leading-up to #ThanksChristmasGiving – our traditional combined Thanksgiving and Christmas. One of my favorite things to do is something that goes back some 40 years, and it’s as simple as shopping with my brother. It’s also a good workout keeping-up with my brother in the stores.

On Day 16 of my road-trip – Friday November 26TH 2021 – I departed my family’s house for the start of the long drive home, but first I had to let my defroster melt the coat of frost off my windshield and rear window so that I could see. On that frigid morning I took the backroads of the local area over to U.S. 69, and I took that to I-20. On the south side of Shreveport Louisiana I got in one last meal at Whataburger.

Fun Fact: The nearest Whataburger is about 380 miles from my home.

After my early-lunch at Whataburger I proceeded onto I-49, and I took that to Alexandria Louisiana. From there I took backroads and old U.S highways through the rest of Louisiana, across the mighty Mississippi River, through Natchez, and over to Hattiesburg. I pretty much traced the same route eastward, as I took westward 2 weeks earlier.

I arrived at my hotel destination on the west side of Hattiesburg right around sunset that night. On that day I drove 523 miles, so that’s 1,974 miles on this road-trip so far.

And that’s where I’ll end Part 5 of this 7-part blog series. I’ll continue with my road-trip adventures and experiences next #TravelThursday. I’ll reach Florida next week, but how deep into Florida will I get ?

All rights reserved (c) 2021 Christopher M. Day, CountUp Ministries

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My November Vacation 2021 Road-Trip

#TravelThursday continues now with Part 4 of my 7-part blog series on my recent 18-day road-trip between South Florida and North Texas.

Last week I left-off on Day 6 in Dallas Texas when I visited the beautiful 66-acre Dallas Arboretum And Botanical Garden. Next time I drive to North Texas I hope to spend another half (or full) day there to see everything. On this visit they were all decorated for Christmas – which was a lot of fun, and it put me into the spirit of the season. I’d like to visit during another time of the year when they are holiday decoration-free. I took 40 photos of my trek around the park. I’ll be posting and captioning most of them onto my Flickr site early in 2022.

Days 7 and 8 were spent hanging out with my family (brother, sister-in-law, and 2 nieces). Day 8 – Thursday November 18TH 2021 – was actually supposed to be another mini-road-trip for me. I had planned to visit the nearby Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary, Historic Downtown McKinney (self-guided walking tour), Collin County History Museum, and lunch at the Cadillac Pizza Pub. None of that happened. It was a full-day of fun planned well in advance, and it’s all deferred to my next road-trip to North Texas in a couple of years. (My next road-trip there may be my inaugural post-retirement road-trip.)

So let’s hit Day 9 – Friday November 19TH 2021. This was an action-packed day of fun on my own. It was a cold morning to get started. I headed east to the small town of Nevada. (It’s pronounced “na-VAY-da”.) My first stop was an old roadside diner that’s very popular with the locals – Watkins Country Cafe. I walked-in, and every table was full. Two guys at a table saw me standing and waiting, and they quickly finished-up and gave me their table. (That’s small-town friendliness right there.)

After my Breakfast there I proceeded a couple of miles away to the Military Heritage Collection Of North Texas. It’s a military museum that’s operated entirely by volunteers and funded solely by donations. (There is no admission.) I posted a 5-star review on Tripadvisor. This museum visit was the biggest surprise of my road-trip. This is the type of place that I would volunteer at if I lived in the local area.

From the military museum I proceeded over to the “Dallas” museum – as in the “Dallas” TV series – the Southfork Ranch. This was my 2ND visit. My 1ST visit was perhaps a dozen years earlier with my brother, but I don’t remember much of it. On this visit I took the guided tour – which starts as a tram tour behind the gift shop and museum. It continues as a walking tour inside the mansion (both floors). After that the tour is over, but you are free to roam the grounds of the ranch and walk inside many of the buildings within the compound. You can really spend a good half-day there checking it all out.

I became an unlikely fan of the “Dallas” TV series over in England of all places – over 8 years after its U.S. debut. Me and a couple of my military dorm buddies gathered each week to watch (and be mesmerized by) the latest episode that was being shown on the BBC. I ended-up watching the series until its 1991 ending after 14 seasons, and I also simultaneously caught-up on the reruns of the show from 1978 to 1986. I think I watched every single episode ever made, and I also watched the 40 episodes of the 2012 to 2014 reboot.

I drove an additional 47 miles on that Friday, so that’s 1,451 miles in 9 days of driving to North Texas and while there.

And that’s where I’ll end Part 4 of this 7-part blog series. I’ll continue with my road-trip adventures and experiences next #TravelThursday. I’ll fast-forward a full week to Day 16 – and the start of my long road-trip back home to South Florida.

All rights reserved (c) 2021 Christopher M. Day, CountUp Ministries

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My November Vacation 2021 Road-Trip

#TravelThursday continues now with Part 3 of my 7-part blog series on my recent 18-day road-trip between South Florida and North Texas.

At the crack of dawn of Day 3 of my road-trip I was back on the road again – across the 4,205-foot-long Natchez-Vidalia Bridge high atop (125 feet above) the mighty Mississippi River below. When I crossed the bridge I was the only one, so there was not the usual stress involved in doing so like at the various other river crossings. (I’m scared of heights, so I get nervous driving on tall bridges. It’s exasperated by tailgaters.)

It was a clear, crisp, and cold Saturday morning in the upper-30s and lower-40s in the Louisiana “low country” near the river. It was my coldest morning in a long time. Luckily it was in the mid-to-upper-60s in my car with the heater on low.

I continued west-southwestward to Alexandria Louisiana where I left behind the old U.S. highway system and network of back roads, and I rejoined America’s Interstate highways via I-49. I took that northwestward up to Shreveport – Louisiana’s 3RD-largest city. About 400,000 residents live in its metro area. Louisiana State University (#LSU) has a large campus in Shreveport, and it’s also the home of the 22,000+ acre Barksdale Air Force Base.

I picked-up I-20 westward out of Shreveport, and I took that to Longview Texas – where I stopped for a Texas BBQ Lunch (which was not very good at all – think “gas station food”). I also left behind the Interstates, opting instead for U.S. 80, U.S. 69, and a series of state and local roads en route to my family’s house in the northeastern suburbs of Dallas.

I arrived at my brother’s and sister-in-law’s house right at 2 PM on Saturday November 13TH 2021. I drove 376 miles on this final leg, so that’s 1,357 miles in 3 days of driving to North Texas.

I had planned to visit a small church on the outskirts of my family’s neighborhood (less than a mile away from their house). I had previously (in the weeks prior) done a lot of research on churches (of all sizes) within the local area. I looked at about a dozen churches online. I eventually had it narrowed down to 3 churches, and then 2 churches, and then a single church. The church I finally selected (over the other 2) started its service at 10:45 AM on Sunday.

I ended-up not attending a church service. Family comes first, and immediate family comes before church family. My brother planned a family Lunch together to celebrate our Mom’s birthday, so we did that on my first Sunday there. We enjoyed a fun Lunch at a Japanese restaurant where you order off the menu, and then the cook arrives a few minutes later, gathers-up all of the ingredients, and then cooks your meal on the large hibachi grill right in front of you while putting on a show. It was a lot of fun, and the food was pretty good too.

2 days later (on Tuesday November 16TH 2021) on an unusually warm day in the 70s (approaching 80°F) I went on a short road-trip (within the road-trip) on my own. It was also planned well in advance. After a hot and delicious Breakfast at a historic downtown district diner I ventured about 20 miles southwestward into the city limits of Dallas.

I visited the 66-acre Dallas Arboretum And Botanical Garden. I’ve wanted to visit this place for a few years now, and now I’ve done so. I didn’t get to see all 66 acres of it, but I got to see a vast majority of it during my 3-hour visit. I know I say this often: I could’ve spent all day there. I actually bought my timed-admission and parking fee online the day before. (I think you have to do it that way. I’m not sure that you can just show-up whenever you feel like it and pay to get in during this post-COVID environment.) I took 40 photos of my trek through the arboretum. Most of them will make it onto my Flickr site, but here’s 4 of the best right here:

About 6 miles away was the George W. Bush Presidential Library And Museum at Southern Methodist University (#SMU), and that’s where I spent a couple of hours that afternoon. I had never been to a Presidential Library before. It was very educational, informative, and interesting. I’d like to visit other Presidential libraries around the country.

I drove an additional 47 miles on that Tuesday, so that’s 1,404 miles in 6 days of driving to North Texas and while there.

And that’s where I’ll end Part 3 of this 7-part blog series. I’ll continue with my road-trip adventures and experiences next #TravelThursday. I’ll tell you about a few places that I did not visit on that first Thursday in North Texas. (Again – family comes first.) And then I’ll tell you all about two places that I did visit the next day on that first Friday.

All rights reserved (c) 2021 Christopher M. Day, CountUp Ministries

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Wichita Falls Texas

#TravelThursday continues, and in this edition we return to one of my favorite cities in the great state of Texas – Wichita Falls. It’s one of my favorite cities for one main reason – I have 5 family members (and their pets) who live there. I visit them every year.

And if you haven’t already guessed by now – I was there last weekend ! #Vacation

I was there from last Thursday morning through Monday morning (96 hours). I spent quality time with family and pets, and we celebrated my Aunt’s & Uncle’s 65TH anniversary together with a quiet spaghetti dinner at home. (Normally we go out to eat dinner at a nice restaurant (usually a steakhouse) to honor the occasion, but this year we decided to go “low-key”.)

As I wrote about last #TravelThursday we embarked on our traditional Saturday road-trip of a few hours away from the metro area. We went eastward this time along U.S. 82. We stopped for Lunch along the way at Tres Niños – a Mexican restaurant in Nocona. It was pretty good. I enjoyed my plate of a sour cream chicken enchilada, a beef enchilada with chili, a guacamole tostada, rice, and beans. Eating Mexican food has become a tradition within the tradition. I didn’t know that we were going to eat Mexican food on our road-trip, but I had a pretty good idea of it. Once something works – we just keep doing it, and the tradition continues to grow.

Nocona is about 52 miles east of where we started on the south-side of the Wichita Falls area. (We previously visited Nocona on our 2015 road-trip.) From there we proceeded another 22½ miles southeastward to downtown Muenster Texas (our final destination for this road-trip). Muenster is a very German-Catholic town of a little over 1,600 residents. More than 90% of its residents are of German descent. It was founded by settlers 132 years ago. It’s named after Münster Germany. They host German festivals year-round, and tourists come to visit to enjoy the eating and drinking fun. Much of the architecture of Muenster looks very German:

That’s actually a Glockenspiel. Read more about it.

On the return trip back from Muenster we drove the backroads through “Wine Country” where multiple vineyards dot the picturesque hilly landscape. We also drove through the Henrietta area, and we visited a couple of large gift shops / “tourist traps” adjacent to gas stations along the highway. (This has also become a tradition of our road-trips.)

It was a fun 4-day visit to the #Texoma region along the Red River. The sights and sounds on the road were fun as usual. The food was abundant every day. But most importantly I got closer to my family there. Above all – family always comes first.

Join me next #TravelThursday as we visit another location on the face of this earth.

They keep you safe on your way, and your feet will not stumble. You can go to bed without fear. You will lie down and sleep soundly. You need not be afraid of sudden disaster or the destruction that comes upon the wicked, for the LORD is your security. He will keep your foot from being caught in a trap. (Proverbs 3:23-26 NLT)

All rights reserved (c) 2021 Christopher M. Day, CountUp Ministries