Saturday, April 11, 2015

Weekend Road Trip: Part Three...

See, I told you it would take me longer to tell you about our trip than it actually took to do the trip.

On day three of our little Texas road trip, we got up and had an enjoyable breakfast of waffles, eggs, sausage, yogurt and I'm pretty sure, I had at least four or five of those small cups of coffee.  I've often wondered, what prevents some random person from walking into the hotel lobby off the street and just enjoying a nice free breakfast?  I'm sure it happens.

Anyway, we filled up at the Alon, I guess that is the local chain of convenience stores, and got ourselves onto I-20 for the trip over to Sweetwater, Colorado City and down to San Angelo.
 Not a whole lot to tell about this portion of the trip.  What we did find interesting along the drive on I-20 was the miles and miles of windmill energy things.  They are massive.  Around San Antonio, we often see the large propellers being hauled on really long trailers.  When you see one of these things up close and personal, you get an understanding of how massive they are with three blades on a huge mast.  
The one potential stop in Sweetwater was the museum of the WASPs, the Women Air Force Service Pilots that were so important during WWII.  We didn't stop there but instead went into Walmart looking for some Sweetwater themed souvenirs.  No luck.
Colorado City did not prove anymore interesting.  I'm pretty sure the name Hillbilly Depot is offensive to someone, but we got a chuckle out of it.  We turned south on a state highway through miles and miles of nowhere and enjoyed the views.  
At in the middle of nowhere, we drove through the small town of Robert Lee.  I learned later that a colleague of mine from work was from there.  Of course, he told me that his momma got him out of there as quickly as she could!  Seemed like a nice little place, but nothing warranting a stop.

So here is the deal about San Angelo; I've never wanted to go back to that place after spending half a year there thirty years ago.  It has nothing to do with the fine people of the Concho Valley, it has everything to do with the hot, blast furnace  style wind that would make walking from school to my dorm every afternoon.  People think of our part of south central Texas as a blow torch during the summer months, but I promise you, 100 degrees in San Antonio is nothing like the hot wind scorching your face in San Angelo.
Nevertheless, Eva has wanted to go to San Angelo for years, just because so many other people have been there, and it seemed like a place she needed to see.  Our first stop was Goodfellow AFB, and I can tell you, thirty years makes a big difference.  I knew immediately that we were not entering the gate I was familiar with, and in spite of the fact that the base is very small, it took me driving around in circles a few times to get my sense of direction.
 The base has not grown in size, per se, but the number of buildings cram packed into there is unbelievable.   Maybe now, the wind is blocked somewhat by all the buildings.
We took our little tour of the base and then stopped into the BX for a minute.  Eva took a picture that was posted in the restroom and thought it was helpful.  They had the same poster above the men's urinal and I thought to myself, "Oh, this is one of those kinds of Men's rooms."  I know, it is no laughing matter. 
We left the base and immediately headed downtown to explore.  My son had recommended a restaurant called Fuentes Cafe.  That was enough for us to give it a shot, and we made our way in for some quick vittles.
 San Angelo is or at least was the center of all things sheep and mohair, so instead of a bunch of painted cattle downtown, they have artists come in and hand paint sheep.  This is the one sponsored by Fuentes.
I can understand why people like this cafe.  Service was quick, our food was good, and though the chips were stale (we are so spoiled with our regular place) the salsa was good.
We had a quick lunch and continued on our sightseeing of the downtown area.  Oh yea, my crispy taco was no bueno, but the enchiladas were delicious and they were more than generous with the guacamole.
Like any city with a river, San Angelo is making an effort to make the space usable for people to enjoy and perhaps generate business.  The Concho River in the downtown area seems to be the heart of the arts scene and in addition to the aforementioned painted sheep, the city is doing their best to make the place where residents and visitors alike can enjoy visiting.  Kudos to them.  This little tiled truck/picnic bench was just one example of the public art we saw.
Another thing I found interesting was the murals at many locations in the historic arts district.  I recall seeing similar things our our visit to Alpine last year.
We also stopped into a place called Eggmeyer's General Store.  Lots of interesting things in there.  They had some of the nicest large scale model airplanes I've seen.  Such fantastic detail.  I think we spent nearly an hour in that place, but in the end didn't buy a thing.  I should have taken some pictures inside.
After seeing what we could see downtown, and to be honest, deciding it was just too hot to walk around anymore, we checked into our hotel (more on that in a bit) then headed over to the mall to see if there was anything worth looking at.  I recalled Sunset Mall from when I was there back in 1982 and I think it may have still had the same carpet.  You can see both me and the most interesting man in the world standing on it.  Jesus, I'm fat.

So we felt really good about the Hampton Inn as a choice for a hotel.  When we planned our trip and called the one in Fredericksburg for reservations, it just made sense to go ahead and make reservations for Abilene and San Angelo.  I've always been pleased with Hampton Inn's around the country; you get fairly consistent rates, quality of rooms and the whole breakfast thing. 

I don't intend to bore you with our less than stellar stay at the San Angelo Hampton, but let's just say that of the three, it was not the best, it was the most expensive, and it was the only one that caused Eva to vomit into the sink. 

And then I'm just stupid.

After she tells me that the smell from the little overflow thing on the sink caused her to throw-up when she was brushing her teeth, what do I do?  I commence to brush my teeth and like an idiot, I bend over and get a whiff of the same thing.  Oh, and this is after she used Clorox wipes to sanitize everything.  There was this obnoxious sewer gas smell.  I did not throw- up though, I quickly turned toward the shower stall and commenced to dry-heave for a minute or so.  Good times.

Look, we could have made a big deal out of it, but honestly, every single person we encountered at that hotel was nicer than the next.  I have never seen a staff so hell bent on being friendly, no matter what.  You'd think these people work for Oprah.  We did leave a polite note about the smell and still left a tip in our room for the maid.

The breakfast there was not nearly as impressive as the other Hampton Inn's but now I feel like I'm just piling on.  Feel free to just read my review on TripAdvisor.

Coming up, the final day of our trip.  When I can get to it.

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