Gainesville, Texas

The chicken fried steak?
Or the banana pudding?
Damn you, skinny pants.

Chicken fried steak

My mother-in-law's chicken fried steak - dangerously tasty!

 


Lounging on the deck
As turkey vultures circle.
Is it personal?

Turkey vultures

Turkey vultures, no doubt waiting to peck my eye out.

 


WinStar Casino,
Though designed to take my cash,
I took some of yours.

Blue Tiger

My voucher for turning $5.00 into $61.25, courtesy of the Blue Tiger!


Out and About in Dinosaur Country

Since Donna and I haven’t really spent much time in this part of the country, taking a bit of a road trip seemed like a good way to get a feel for the lay of the land. For our destination, we decided to head toward Dinosaur Valley State Park near Glen Rose, about two hours south of Gainesville.

As it turns out, we chose a pretty good time of the year to visit North Texas – we’ve had clear skies and the weather’s not been too hot (upper 70s to mid 80s). And as a bonus, there are springtime wildflower patches everywhere, including the Texas state flower, the bluebonnet!

The key attraction at the state park is the set of fossilized dinosaur footprints in the Paluxy riverbed. However, due to recent rains, the river level was too deep to actually see the prints, so we had to settle for mock-ups in the visitor center as well as one built into the sidewalk.

  

Despite the lack of access to authentic fossilized prints, the park was quite scenic and it was good to get out for a walk along the river.

 

Finally, as an interesting counterpoint to Dinosaur Valley State Park, we noticed the Creation Evidence Museum on our drive in, just up the road from the park. We got this photo, but didn’t venture inside.

Texas Food (and beer)

One of our main things to attend to during this visit is getting a decent sampling of Texas cuisine – BBQ, TexMex, chicken-fried steak, fried okra, etc. While we did notice a lot of chain / fast-food places I haven’t seen in a while (Sonic, Whataburger, Schlotzsky’s, Golden Corral), I still prefer “real” restaurants to chains.

For our first dinner out, we quasi-randomly chose Metzler’s in Denton. It wasn’t a totally random choice since the large, attached, beer store intrigued me. We focused on the BBQ – the brisket and hot links were good, the pork and ribs were OK and the sides were hit and miss. The claim of “Texas Tastiest” was a bit overblown, but it served as a reasonable starting off point for what I hope will be a more extensive culinary adventure over the next few days.

 

 

Metzler’s beer selection turned out to be pretty good – they had a reasonable selection from around the world as well as good representation of Texas breweries. In fact, they even had some Pine Belt Pale Ale from Southern Star Brewing in Conroe, Texas, near the quaint hamlet of Cut and Shoot where I lived for a few years. I also have to throw in this shot of Polygamy Porter from Wasatch Brewery in Park City, Utah, with its tagline of “Why Have Just One!” 😉

              

Ultimately though, I ended up buying a six-pack of Snake Dog IPA from Flying Dog Brewery in Maryland. This decision was made partly because it was an IPA, but also because it reminded me of our second foster dog Luigi, who earned the nickname “Snake Dog” for his initial tendency to excitedly snap at our hands whenever we tried to interact with him.

Seattle to North Texas

For getting to the airport, we decided to give Link Light Rail a try for the first time. Overall, we were pretty pleased with the results: the 5 to Westlake Station and then the train to SEA, all for about $5 per person and an hour’s total travel time. Not bad!

The flight to DFW was largely uneventful. For whatever reason, American Airlines didn’t seat us together, but I was able to get the lady next to me to swap seats with Donna. During the flight itself, we had pretty clear weather and I got a few shots of interesting Springtime snow levels in the mountains.

 

We made it to DFW, picked up the rental car (a 2012 VW Beetle!) and headed to my Mom’s place up in Gainesville where we’re staying for our visit.

 

Rough Itinerary

We’ve sketched out a rough itinerary for our trip. It captures the general path we might take, but we’re going to be making up the specifics as we go. While most of the traveling will be via rail, I suspect there may be a few air hops once we get into the UK/Ireland/Scandinavia portion of the trip.

Here’s the map:


View Very Rough Itinerary in a larger map

Also, since we need to make sure we don’t exceed the 90-day Schengen limit, here’s a rough, tabular breakdown of what things might look like: