MTTS: Day Six – Lubbock, TX

20140731-193643.jpg

Today was our first actual day with MINI Takes the States. We woke up really bright and early to meet up with the other MINIs at the dealership. There were a lot of bleary eyed MINIs in the parking lot this morning…. I don’t think MINIs are naturally morning-types. Their human counterparts roamed around and foraged for coffee and breakfast. MINI provided breakfast burritos, but Brian and I passed, choosing to stick with our Cliff bars. We had a very long drive ahead of us today and we didn’t want to risk tummy upset. (They appeared to be McDonalds burritos and I’m not positive they would have been gluten-friendly even without to flour tortilla.)

Everyone roamed around and talked… Lots of photos were taken and introductions made. Many of us have been following/planning with this group on Facebook for months… It has been exciting to finally meet (in the real world) some of the people that we’ve been talking to for so long. Brian and I met another couple that started their trip almost a month ago. We’ve been following their adventure online. They are going all the way across the county with MINI and throwing in a bunch of extra stops before and after MTTS for a total of TWO months travel! IN A MINI!! Maybe that’ll be me and Brian some day! (I have a photo of the four of us, but my computer won’t connect right now, so I’m blogging on my phone… Love my iPhone!)

20140731-205342.jpg
We’ve been interviewed twice about our MINI… It’s so cool! I hope I can find the video!

As we left MINI Sandia (ABQ) this morning we drove through a crowd of people and out onto the highway where the police had blocked the roads. Superstar treatment!

20140731-195313.jpg

MINIs streamed out onto the highway and zoomed into the hills of Albuquerque.

20140731-195354.jpg

It was all very exciting at first… The sight of hundreds of MINIs caused a stir among the other cars… First looks of confusion then smiles as we passed. But as Albuquerque disappeared behind us the open roads of the plains stretched out before us boredom set in. The speed limit is 75… So that makes things more fun for the drivers… for a while…. I napped for a while… Played on my phone… When I had signal (which wasn’t very often) and quizzed Brian on his thoughts on alien life. Then Brian suggested I take another nap. Hmmm …

We finally arrived in Roswell, New Mexico shortly after noon. MINI had made arrangement for us to visit the International UFO Museum & Research Center. Brian and I breezed through fairly quickly. Most of the displays are news articles and documents relating to the Roswell UFO crash. I’ve been there before with Dad and I enjoyed reading the papers and looking at all the photos… Brian had been in the car too long and was in no mood for reading.

20140731-200504.jpg

We found a quiet spot for our picnic lunch and had just begun to eat when another lady sat down at a table near us…. And started ranting and yelling…. Not at us…. And I’m pretty sure she wasn’t on a phone either…. One too many alien encounters, maybe? I dunno. We stuffed our lunch in our mouths and got out of there pretty quick.

After a quick stop at Target to restock our picnic supplies (and get me a bit of chocolate) we were on our way to Lubbock, TX.

20140731-200900.jpg

At the Texas-New Mexico State Line Metroplex MINI of Dallas was there to welcome us to Texas.

20140731-210839.jpg
MINI didn’t have anything planned for our evening in Lubbock, but a group of MINI enthusiasts had organized a meet up at a drive in theater. I’ve been wanting to go to a drive in forever…. Especially since we got the Roadster,so I pretty much whined and begged until Brian gave in and said we could go. The movie doesn’t start until nearly his bedtime… I promised to only stay through the first movie…Rise of the Planet of the Apes!!!

20140731-205248.jpg

MTTS: Day Three – Amarillo, TX

Does Oklahoma never end?  Seriously…. that was the longest state!

I totally overslept this morning.  Not that we really had an actual schedule, but we had imagined that we’d be up and moving by eight.  I’m going to blame it on those wonderful Holiday Inn pillows.  (I used to have a couple of those…. Not stolen!  You can order them online.  I need a couple more… they are just the nicest pillows ever.)

I finally drug myself out of bed around nine and took my sweet time getting ready.  By the time we checked out, the free continental breakfast was pretty much gone.  I grabbed a banana and a hot coffee to go with my Cliff Bar and we headed out.

IMG_7434Our first planned stop of the day was Turner Falls Park.  Brian and I had visited Amicalola Falls State Park in Georgia last November and had a wonderful time hiking up (the four million stairs) to see the falls.  So that was more what I was expecting….. Okay, so Turner Falls is a Park… not a State Park… so not the same IMG_7428thing.  Think more “natural water park” than “nature park with water”.  Also think water park prices not state park prices.  State parks are usually $5 a person…. this was $12…. not outrageous, but I’m trying to stick to a budget here people!  Ugh.  So instead of being what I expected, Turner Falls was something completely different.  The Falls still turned out to be enjoyable.  I’m not sure I would recommend it as a “must see” if you are just passing through. Now, if you planned to stay the whole day and play in the water or if you had kids with you…. yeah, this would be a great place to visit and spend the whole day.  The falls are at the far end of the park, but there is a paved walkway up to it and a pool at the base of the falls to play in.  A stream flows down from the falls and there were people playing there and further IMG_7431down where there appeared to be slides and other water-parky stuff.  There are also lifeguards and restrooms with showers and snack bars.

Brian and I were still thinking “state park” so we followed the map to the “castles” and “caves”….. The “castle” was built by a professor back in the ’30’s as (it sounds like) a guy’s hang out.  The steps are insane.  Super tall, super steep and super narrow.  In some places there is a rickety handrail and in others you’re just supposed to hope your balance is good.  I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone but teenagers.

IMG_7457  We hiked back a little ways though one of the trails, following a small stream.  During a wetter season I would bet it is really pretty.  As it was today, it was pretty, but not that pretty….  We met another couple who had been to one of the caves and we asked if it was worth the hike.  The guy seemed to have enjoyed it, but warned that there were places where you had to climb ropes and that there was a wasp nest near the mouth of the cave.  The lady gave me the big eyed look that I took to mean we should skip it if we wanted to live.  So we skipped it.

All in all, the Falls were pretty and would be fun if you wanted to spend the whole day and play in the water, but we were thinking we were just going to look at a pretty waterfall…. not what we expected.

After the Falls we didn’t have anything big planned.  We stopped briefly at a Route 66 landmark and got a couple of photos of Posh out front, but she was pretty done with Oklahoma and it’s boring roads.  (Arkansas was so much more fun with all the hills and twisties!) IMG_7477

Mostly today’s goal was just to escape Oklahoma. Sorry Oklahoma, but my impression was just of a long ,boring, flat state with little interesting scenery.  Once we crossed into Texas the geography completely changed.  I wouldn’t have expected that the landscape would change so much just from one side of the state line to the other, but once we hit Texas there were things to look at.  Woo hoo!  Instead of the rolling hills of Arkansas there were deep valleys and slices through the earth.  And now I know why Texas is called “Big IMG_7494Sky Country, ”  the horizon seems to go on forever.

When we finally made it into Texas I was getting pretty hungry and had been searching for someplace to eat for far too long on my iPhone…. Hungry + Reading in a Car = Sick Stephanie.  Fortunately we had finally reached the welcome center and I got to get out an wander around for a while. Posh was far more impressed with the view, but didn’t want to wander off the road after she saw the “beware of IMG_7499rattlesnakes” signs.

Brian picked the restaurant since I wasn’t up to looking at little words on my phone anymore.  I’d narrowed it down to a hand-full once we’d decided on BBQ.  When we pulled up to the restaurant I became a bit concerned…. It was a BBQ place attached to a gas station….. Umm…. I’d been thinking of a nicer dinner?

When we walked in they asked if we’d ever been there before…. Was it that obvious?…. The guy directed us to the front counter and told us to tell them it was our first visit and promised there’d be samples.  Woo hoo!  Samples!

The brisket was delicious and Brian decided to get a 1/2lb of brisket (no “combos” or pre designed “meals”… just order what you want and pay by the pound.)  I had my heart (and tummy) set on ribs, so I got a 10405544_10152319747293668_8690263656606736249_n1/2lb of ribs.  When it came to the sides I asked if the cream corn had any flour in it and mentioned that I was allergic to wheat (It’s easier to say “allergic” than to explain “gluten-sensitive”…. people get “allergic” and the outcome is the same for me… no wheat.) He got it right away and warned me about all the other side options with wheat.  So I ended up with new potatoes…. yum and Brian got the corn on the cob.  Even the signature BBQ sauces were labeled Gluten-Free.  Brian and I loved our dinners and really appreciated how friendly and knowledgeable the staff were.  If you ever are in the neighborhood, visit Rudy’s….. don’t let the gas station freak you out.

Now for a good night’s sleep so we’ll be rested up for tomorrow’s adventures!