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Old 10-22-2009, 12:55 AM
 
Location: The Heart of Dixie
9,882 posts, read 14,862,736 times
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I will be travelling to Texas next month and flying into Love Field on a late afternoon and have to be in Abilene the following afternoon. I don't want to drive to Abilene that night since I assume it is a very dark and isolated stretch on Interstate 20 and I'll be driving a rental car, not a vehicle I'm familiar with. In addition its my first time in Texas so I do prefer to drive during the daytime to see the scenery.

I figure the towns just west of the immediate metro area might have cheaper hotel rates. Is anyone here familiar with Weatherford, Mingus, Gordon, Strawn, or Ranger along I-20? On the map they look just beyond the Metroplex. Is the drive out there from Dallas very dark at night over isolated landscapes? Also I prefer a town with some authentic Texas charm that still has a restaurant or bar open late (preferablly non chain).

Also what is it like for a visitor/outsider? I will be driving a rental car, am of Asian ancestry and don't have an accent so it will probably be obvious I'm not from around there. Should I assume Texas's reputation for friendliness and hospitality is jsut as accurate as the Southern hospitality i've experienced in Virginia, North Carolina and rural parts of Maryland? I've know many parts of Texas even outside the borderlands have a high Hispanic population so will I have any difficulties if I only know English? I've heard nightmare stories about Florida and California so just wondering. So if anyone is familiar with these places I would really appreciate it! If anyone knows any specific places between Dallas and Abilene where I can get good barbecue, steaks or Mexican food it would be great. Here in Baltimore we just have Texas Roadhouse, which actually started in Indiana, and there is not much Mexican food here besides Chipotle and Chevy's.

I also plan to do a bit of sightseeing in Dallas, namely Reunion Tower for the observation deck and maybe JFK's assassination site. How convenient the area around Reunion Tower is in terms of driving and parking? Finally, different sources classify Abilene as part of West Texas, the Panhandle, and North Texas, which is most accurate? I'm really sorry for having so many questions, really looking forward to this trip!
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Old 10-22-2009, 06:23 AM
 
Location: Kaufman County, Texas
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There are plenty of places to stay and eat in Weatherford, but don't go any further west. The road is totally dark at night! The other towns you mention are TINY. Ranger has a coffee shop and a Dairy Queen, and that is seriously it. I think there is a mom-and-pop motel, but no guarantees as to the cleanliness of it or if it is even still open. There is a big hill on I-20 that you drive up just east of Ranger (it's called Ranger Hill), and you might get a kick out of seeing that in the daylight. The drive west of Fort Worth is actually quite pretty. It's what you think of as a Texas landscape, and it's NOT flat!

I would really recommend staying in Fort Worth. There are a lot of better hotels (anywhere off University Drive is great) and plenty of places to eat. I love Uncle Julio's for Mexican (yes, it is a chain) and Pulido's (nexto to Marriott Spring Hill Suites, is good, too.

In Abilene, there are two really good BBQ places: Joe Allen's Welcome to Joe Allen's Home Page and Earl's Pit BBQ. Earl's doesn't have a website: 1305 Walnut St, Abilene, TX 79601-3649 (325) 672-4451 Earl's is MY FAVORITE BBQ in all of Texas. It is a mom-and-pop place and in a tiny, old building. If the line is out the door, that means they are open! Yummy soul food style BBQ with hot water cornbread. Mmmm!!!

Honestly, you're not going to have a lot of time to sightsee in Dallas. Reunion Tower has a parking garage (it is connected to the Hyatt Regency Hotel) and the JFK area has a wonderful museum: The Sixth Floor Museum - Home I don't know how late it is open on weeknights, though.

This far north, almost everyone speaks English just fine. If you were down along the border, like in Del Rio or McAllen, you might encounter more people who only speak Spanish.

Have a great trip!
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Old 10-22-2009, 08:33 AM
 
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Yep, ChristieP is right, Weatherford is going to be your extent of travel before shutting down. You might go ahead and look up your favorite hotel/motel and book a room now (you can always cancel according to policy). And at Ranger Hill, 6% grade, don't get stuck behind slow traffic. It's a better sight heading east.

Mingus and Strawn are famous for their rattlesnake round-ups but your not likely to find thriving 'burbs out there. You'll cross the Brazos River about ten miles west of Weatherford. Honk yer horn on the bridge. The Brazos begins in west Texas and travels east then bends south just before you cross it. The Spaniards named it Las Brazos del Dio, the arms of God. Story has it they thought it was the Colorado, the rest is history. I've crossed the Brazos at several different points in Texas, for me it's like going out the back door of the house. I honk just so someone will know I'm headed out... or in.

From time to time you'll see a patch of narrow pavement, off on someone's property (not the interstate feeder road). That's the old hiway, the one before Hiway 80 (or 84) which is mostly under I-20.

At about 17 miles out of Abilene you'll get your first glimpse of the city's horizon. The drive is, literally, downhill from there. Abilene used to call itself the Key City to west Texas. I think it's reference now the western edge of central Texas. My reference is that's it's mostly no where but you have to go there to get somewhere else. I think it really depends on the weather.

Hope you have a bright clear day for the drive. And like loves2read says in the next post... watch the speed limits... especially in CALLAHAN county. They will monitor, they will stop you, they will ticket you. You've been warned.

Last edited by WillysB; 10-22-2009 at 09:43 AM..
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Old 10-22-2009, 09:13 AM
 
36,441 posts, read 55,945,099 times
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watch the speed limits--not that you are necessarily a speeder--BUT
around here the city police have been rigorously enforcing them to maximize fines for the cities--
I have seen people getting tickets on Airport Frwy--183--over the past couple of months where they NEVER were given tickets in the 20+ yrs I have lived around here--

and they are ticketing people on the access roads along freeways where there is usually a 30 mph but people are usually doing 50 coming off the freeways or trying to get to next up-ramp...

so even though there may seem to be no traffic once you start going west--they can be perched on crossover ramps to sight speeders and have another officer posted in front to pull you over...

Frankly I would stay in downtown and eat at Reata--great restaurant with some unique food choices that blend Southwest/Mexican/southern foods--wonderful view of downtown--and you could spend some time walking around Sundance Sq..vs Uncle Julio's where you will have to drive to/from and there is no sightseeing around...
Reata Fort Worth Restaurant
you won't save that much time by staying in hotel west of downtown if you leave early in the morning--but hotels downtown are likely to be more expensive so if you stay to the west you can still come back to downtown (10 min drive) for free parking after 6 anywhere on the streets--safe downtown--McDavid Studio has eclectic music performances--you can check the web site for Bass Hall--http://www.basshall.com/eventsnew.jsp?selDate=10/23/2009
there are some bars like Eight 0--other nice restaurants--Sundance gets lots of casual walkers/diners even during the week
so I would say check the weather close to your trip--if it will be without rain and not too windy--I think you would enjoy Sundance

in Abilene--Harold's (rated well by TX Monthly) or Betty Rose's BBQ might be two worth considering--Betty Rose has several locations (local chain)
Joe Allen that used to be considered good restaurant has gotten some bad reviews lately on Google maps site

Last edited by loves2read; 10-22-2009 at 09:34 AM..
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Old 10-22-2009, 11:48 AM
 
Location: Plano, TX
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With sunset being on the early side this time of the year, it would be hard to get too far away from the DFW area before dark. It would be best to stay in Weatherford, and enjoy the trip from there to Abilene when the sun is up.

There are usually good places on I-20 to stop every 20 miles or so for gas, or a pitstop. I don't recall too many bars or drinking establishments between Weatherford and Abilene. There are a few in Mingus, but I have never been inside.

You will go over the Brazos River shortly after Weatherford, you will go by the ghost town of Thurber, which was a large coal-mining town around the 1900s. The have two good cafes there, the Smokestack Restaurant is right off the highway and would be a good breakfast stop. Then you will go up Ranger Hill and really feel like you're in West Texas. By the way - If you are around Strawn TX during lunch or dinner, STOP AT MARY'S FOR THE BEST CHICKEN FRIED STEAK IN TEXAS!

I don't believe you will have any problem not speaking Spanish.

Just in case you decide to be brave - I've stayed overnight in hotels located in Ranger, Eastland, Cisco and Baird (all small towns between DFW and Abilene). Most of them are nothing to brag about, they were decent, but not like a chain hotel. Most of them are Indian owned, so I don't believe a person of Asian ancestry would have trouble with a hotel. Eastland is not too bad, they have a new LaQuinta right off I-20. Restaurants seem to be a problem there for me. Seems like they open up and close within six months. There was a new BBQ right off I-20 which was good. They also have the fast-food places. Ranger has an American Best Value Inn, which is a low-rate hotel. They do have a diner on the road from I-20 to the downtown area that is good, plus fast food places. Cisco has similar problems with restaurants, but they do have fast food. They also have an American Best Value. Baird seems to only have a Dairy Queen and pizza place.

Abilene is a great town, a West Texas town. Harold's has the best BBQ there, but there are a few others that are good. Good steakhouses are there too.

Dallas - last time I went to Dealy Plaza, there was plenty of parking around the Schoolbook Depository.

Just be friendly, most Texans are curtious to visitors.
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Old 10-22-2009, 08:37 PM
JS1
 
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Just drive the measly 3 hours to Abilene and do sightseeing on the way back if you have time.
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Old 10-22-2009, 08:55 PM
 
Location: DFW - Coppell / Las Colinas
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One of the best places to sight see is downtown Ft Worth - Sundance Square and the Northside stockyards. Ft Worth has some of the best museums in the US.
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Old 10-23-2009, 03:25 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by loves2read View Post

Reata Fort Worth Restaurant
you won't save that much time by staying in hotel west of downtown if you leave early in the morning--but hotels downtown are likely to be more expensive so if you stay to the west you can still come back to downtown (10 min drive) for free parking after 6 anywhere on the streets--safe downtown--McDavid Studio has eclectic music performances--you can check the web site for Bass Hall--http://www.basshall.com/eventsnew.jsp?selDate=10/23/2009
there are some bars like Eight 0--other nice restaurants--Sundance gets lots of casual walkers/diners even during the week
so I would say check the weather close to your trip--if it will be without rain and not too windy--I think you would enjoy Sundance
I second and triple that .. the Reata is a bit pricey, but a wonderful Texas experience .. especially from the upper deck. The Buffalo rib-eye is the best I've ever had!
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Old 10-24-2009, 03:27 AM
 
Location: The Heart of Dixie
9,882 posts, read 14,862,736 times
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Thanks a lot for the suggestions! I will definitely stop in either Strawn or Thurber for food. I just need to be in Abilene by around 4:30 in the afternoon. It is extremely helpful to know about the speed traps. A friend of mine had her license suspended recently in Virginia because she got two tickets within the same county on the same highway, both with the speed cameras! Usually I drive courteously but tend to speed sometimes on open highway with little traffic so now I know I've been warned

I booked a hotel in Fort Worth. Does anyone know about the cattle drive in the Fort Worth Stockyards? Is it a hassle to get in or out and is the experience worth it? The website says it starts at 11:30 AM don't know if there's enough time.
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Old 10-24-2009, 06:20 AM
 
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Mary's Cafe, Strawn, TX : Reviews and maps - Yahoo! Local

If you are stopping in Strawn you'll want to eat at Mary's. Best chicken fried steak in the country. But don't get the big ol hamburger cuz it's HUGE and takes 45 minutes to prepare. ;-)
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