The Buckhorn Baths – Mesa, Arizona

Ted Stiger, by accident, created an iconic roadside oasis in the desert. The Buckhorn Baths in Mesa, Arizona, a mecca that denounced segregation, lured Hollywood stars, played host to the political elite, and arguably developed the Cactus League. Ted’s relationship with baseball ushered in the spring training of Americans favorite pastime to the East Valley – and all he did was dig a well.


Arizona was a no-mans-land for centuries, an arid desert, a harsh environment that few called home until the Granite Reef Dam’s construction. Completed in 1908, this early 20th-century engineering marvel on the Salt River diverted water via irrigation canals to Phoenix, allowing growth and development. Soon after, in 1911, the Roosevelt Dam was constructed, providing the valley with affordable electricity.

Inside the Buckhorn Bath’s overgrown courtyard.


While Phoenix thrived with its new wealth of utilities, America was on the move. The pursuit of mapping all-season and all-weather roads was in full swing. Routes such as the Bankhead Highway, Dixie Overland Highway, Old Spanish Trail, and U.S. Highway 80 trudged west, each claiming the title coast-to-coast.

Historic Routes – Coast to Coast


Soon travelers filled the roadways. Cars needed gas, passengers needed groceries, resulting in mom and pop shops popping up all along the newly formed transcontinental routes.
In 1936, Ted and Alice Sliger purchased a parcel of property just east of Phoenix in Mesa, Arizona, a purchase that would set in motion a series of events that would culminate into the development of the Buckhorn Baths.
Initially, the couple’s space was occupied by a store, a gas station; in addition to these, Ted found space to display his extensive taxidermy collection.


By 1938 business was good, but there was a problem. Ted had to have water delivered, and with an increase in traffic and patrons, this was becoming impractical. Ted set out to dig a well to find some water beneath his feet. Ted did find water, but not water worth drinking; Ted opened a 120 degrees mineral-rich water well. Water that, at the time, was believed to have healing powers.
Understanding the unique opportunity flowing under their feet, the two built a 27 stone tub bathhouse that could serve 75 guests per day, added cottages, and ultimately employed a staff of 25.

Yum.

The Cactus League
Bill Veeck, who owned a ranch in Arizona, purchased the Cleveland Indians in 1946. Veeck also intended to introduce African American players to his roster. This would be problematic during spring training in Florida, where Jim Crow Laws still subjected African Americans to sever discrimination; he chose to move spring training to Arizona.
The big issue with this move was that there would be no other teams to play during spring training; Cleveland needed another Arizona team during the spring.
Horace Stoneham, the hands-on owner of the New York Giants, also wintered in Arizona. And as legend has it moved the Giants spring training to Arizona the day he discovered the Buckhorn Baths and the healing waters.
The Giants would call the Buckhorn Baths home each spring for the next 25 years. Legends such as Ty Cobb and Willie Mays would soak in the mineral baths, wander the grounds, and enjoy the mild desert winters.

During a time of racial inequality, The Buckhorn welcomed all players of all colors, allowing the team to stay together on site, something that was not allowed in Florida.

Today, fifteen professional baseball teams call the Phoenix area home during the Cactus League’s season.

Ted passed away in 1984; although it had been decades since the Buckhorn was the Giants’ home base, the baths were still opened and operated along with the motel and the museum, by his wife, Alice.

The Buckhorn Baths Cottages

With Alice at the helm, she drew the last bath in 1999. The motel and museum shuttered around 2005. On November 10, 2010, Alice passed away at 103 years of age.

Today the Buckhorn Baths stand abandoned but well preserved. The mineral-rich still flows through the pipes. A roadside gem. A collection of Americana history.

Midway Drive-In

Years ago, darkness filled the space between city limit signs, a void of life and light. These lonely stretches of blacktop created ideal spots for drive-in theaters.

In the middle of the last century, “Midway” drive-ins popped up along those segments of highway. Strategically placed midway between towns, the Drive-ins would benefit from both populations’ patronage. Mid-century summer nights would come to life in these otherwise desolate areas midway between towns.

One such “Midway” Drive-in existed along what was once known as the Bankhead Highway in Sweetwater, Texas.

The Midway.

Sweetwater’s Midway Drive-In opened on May 20, 1948, with a screening of “The Time, the Place and the Girl,” starring Dennis Morgan. Warner Bros’. most successful film during 1946 and 1947, earning $3,461,000 domestically and $1,370,000 foreign. Might this success be the reason the Midway opened with it two years later?

Owned by Jack Wallace. He, Dorothy, his wife, and son J.D. ran the theater. The projectionist was Billy Faught.

Many other outdoor cinemas share the Midway’s demise. Victims of changing culture and fluctuating populations. Today the screen still stands, a mammoth white cement wall, waiting to continue to perform its duty, frozen in time, just off West Broadway, Sweetwater, Texas.

A Traveling Man’s Last Flight

A hint of smoke fills the cabin of the Douglas DC-3, 6,000 feet above East Texas.

Two crew and seven passengers, en route to the next show, be-bopping and energetic from previous engagements, three sold-out nights, a recently signed record contract, and the resurgence of the lead singer’s career, are unaware of the horror that lays ahead.

The plane’s owner and band’s leader is a rockabilly icon, teenage idol, television star, and a victim of his successes.

His rise and fall led him through many struggles, but the future was bright. New opportunities were certain, and at only forty-five, his life was beginning.

The passengers, concerned but not overly alarmed with N711Y’s situation, living was on their minds. Renewal and resurgence on the horizon.

Pilot and co-pilot bumble in their actions, every decision they make, as smoke drifts through the 14 seat aircraft, errors in their duties.

With the band’s future renewed, confidence is rebuilding, and his assurance of being a sober, respected, musician not just an aging teen idol.

His mind is on the future while appreciating his celebrated past of music and entertainment, millions of albums sold and memories of gold records, and starting a band as a teenager with an 18-year-old guitarist named James Burton.

N711Y, a moody machine.

Earlier that day, December 31, 1985, the passengers and crew loitered around the airport during a lengthy delay.

N711Y was having issues.

N711Y was always having issues, no cause for alarm.

These usual troubles were not accepted by all band members, who regularly voiced concern about traveling on the vintage plane.

December 31, and the air was cold.

The onboard heater, indiscriminately, blowing cold, blowing hot, overheating, a nuisance to both crew and the cold passengers in the magnesium tube.

New Years was only hours away, and a music starved crowd awaits the band to help ring in 1986.

For five decades, he entertained on radio, television, movies, and live. He was born with a pedigree for music and entertainment, a musician whose soul was tuned to Rockabilly and country roots, whose success veiled his loves and promoted Pop music and good looks.

He rose and fell but came out with a fresh look on life.

N711Y has issues but also a fascinating history.

She is a Douglas DC-3, vintage 1944. An aircraft whose history is rich as her current owners. Initially, Richard Dupont’s property and once Jerry Lee Lewis’s possession, this aircraft had taxied the rock-n-roll royalty along with the rich and famous.

Today the forty-five-year-old owner is only thirty minutes away from Love Field, in Dallas, Texas. His band and fiancé fill the plane with exuberance and merriment of the good life.

Last night his final words to the crowd were, “Rave on for me!” as he finished the band’s final song. Rave On, a Buddy Holly cover that, only posthumously, would weave irony into the story of this musician’s life.

Smoke becomes thick throughout the plane as the pilot and co-pilot radio for radar vectors to available landing strips.

As smoke fills the cockpit, radio communication becomes difficult, as the distressed pilots struggled for their words.

Choking for air, the pilot ditches the plane in a haphazard landing. Smoke turns to fire, and soon, N711Y’s fuselage is engulfed in flames.

The pilots, severely burned, escape through a window, and stumble about while the N711Y lays consumed in a fire in an East Texas farmer’s field.

Once the flames subsided, recoverers found all nine passengers’ lifeless and burnt bodies huddled around the plane’s door, a futile attempt to escape the inferno.

Today the tail of N711Y is on display in the community museum, next to Dollar General, in Del Kalb, Texas.

N711Y’s rudder was last seen at Air Salvage of Dallas.

Those we lost.

She tore through me-

She tore through my world.

With aggression that was as –

Expressive as,

The culmination of all emotions.

She tore through me.

Lost in imagination.

Lost in the expression of perfect words.

Satisfied in the realization of being lost.

Content to be damned.

She tore through the world –

Of perfect chords,

Rhymes and rhythms.

Existence in her world of right.

The right look,

In the right eye,

At the right time.

She tore through me.

She tore through my world.

Truer than God.

More brilliant than the sum of all the stars.

She tore through me

She tore through the world

Too bright to shine.

Too real to belong.

Too bright to last.

Will Evangelicals change Science Curriculum in Texas Public Schools?

The following is taken from an article published by The Texas Independent. The following ideas and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Tab Across Texas.

A shift is occurring, and it has nothing to do with the continental plates or any other pseudo science that has interfered with the story of creation. In fact, this change is a return to the static story of biblical teaching, steering our children away from the dynamic and questioning agendas of the current curriculum to the largely accepted and time-tested stories from Biblical text.

“We know what is right and what is best for our kids” an undisclosed individual stated while attending a planning session with members of, For the Absolute Truth or (FAT). This group of teachers, clergy, community, and business leaders representing a wide range of social and economic communities has one mission, to “Let the Bible Tell the Truth”.

Dedicated to the reversal of misleading progressive dynamic thought, this group is making headway. FAT is creating arguments built on fundamental teachings of hundreds of years of written and oral history.

“How can something that has been around for 2000 years be incorrect?”, a question I was presented with will attending a FAT meeting. I find the question engaging and I ponder.

FAT is working closely with educational leadership in Texas. While the seas have not yet parted for FAT the tide seems to be turning.

A popular argument with FAT concerns the Independent School Districts (ISDs). FAT believes that a community should have more input in the content and curriculum in the local public schools.

“We pay for the school with our taxes and our local folks lead the schools, they are ours, we should teach like we want, we call our own plays in football.” Heartfelt and logical arguments such as these are common among FAT member, and one must admit can be argued with merit.

“We have the curriculum written.” a chorus of FAT members exclaim. “It is packaged up and ready to go.”

FAT is not just talking, FAT is doing.

Unlike other curriculums that require re-adoption and purchase as new editions are released with updated information, FAT’s adoption never changes and the school districts are taking notice.

“A school only has to buy it (the materials) one time and only replace when worn out.”, is the sales pitch for the FAT content.

“The information starts at the beginning.”

FAT’s curriculum is divided into seven units. Each unit will encompass the acts of God on the corresponding day of creation, aligning the seven units with the book of Genesis. Building on the previous units, the curriculum spirals and scaffolds throughout, a balance of geology, biology, and love.

While the group is confident in their convictions they know many will resist the backslide to creation curriculum.

“We have some powerful and influential people on our side.” proudly states one of the leading members of FAT.

Still the group understands that it will take more than power and influence to bring about acceptance of the traditional scientific thought.

Escapism at home (why I built an in house Polynesian paradise)

 

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Deep in the Heart of Texas 

 

My pupils, the size of a pinhead, take in the hustle of the valet attendants whose hurried motions cause nausea in my belly and pain in my head. Early morning in Las Vegas.

Some coming. Others are going.  Many are looking to find Thompson’s American Dream.

Each day and night in this city becomes a bender, what starts as innocent toe-dipping in the pond of debauchery, can easily become a full dunk baptism in this city of sin.

“Where you headed?”, asks the perky young man, who can hail a cab, open a door, and complement one’s attire with a condescending tone that makes one feel obligated to tip. An individual whose rank on the ladder of success could never be aligned with his status of mind.  An individual who can balance position, responsibility, and obligatory compliments with a suave and arrogant certainty of self.

“1712 W Charleston Blvd”, a state with certainty and pass my door attendant a well-deserved fiver for being a better man than me.

Rays of the morning sun, now well over the surrounding Mojave mountains, are quickly warming the dry desert air. Our cab turns to the west. The glitz and glamour of the Las Vegas Strip fall behind. We are entering into the area of the Las Vegas locals.

Neighborhood bars and casinos cater to the everyday man. Transient individuals and down on their luck groups live their days here. In the shadow of wealth is want. Caught in the undertow of the ebb and flow of the powers that be. People wander, damned to serve a life sentence in a world they were born into without council, insertion without representation.

A quick lefthand turn and we have arrived.

Nestled between strip malls and gas stations, hospitals and homeless shelters is our destination. Frankies Tiki Room.

Exiting the car we make our way towards the door. The sun right above our heads. Blistering rays. Blinding light. We open the door.

Darkness. Pitch black. Like someone has placed a shroud over our eyes.

Our other senses heighten. Cool air and sound of conversation, unfamiliar music pulsates pleasantly within our ears.

We stand still, mesmerized by our surroundings. Naive and innocent. Expecting the worse but willing to experience any trauma and terror we have wandered into.

Our pupils dilate. We begin to see. Warm reds and cool blues shine like celestial bodies across the ceiling.  The flaming cherries of cigarettes hung in the darkness, aloft, seeming to float.

Each ember intensifies and brightens with the inhale of the darkened individual escaping the realities of the outside world.

With a new sense of sight, we find our way to the bar and soon discover a world unlike none other.

The world of Tiki.

A variety of textures begin to grab the attention of our senses.  Our eyes strained to view deep into the dark corners, where the glow of tobacco fire pulsated like beacons in the dark night.  Our tounges confused by the multi ingredients of the drinks strained to find a hint of liquor, carefully disguised in the cocktails. Thick dark woods, burnt and scarred all around, nothing soft or smooth, but all inviting.

Then confusion set in. A product of the pours. Then numbness and peace. In this strange new wonderful world.  We allowed ourselves to be enveloped into the embrace of the out of the way establishment on Charleston Blvd.

We did not want to leave.

So we decided to bring Tiki to our home.

There was a room in our home that really did not have a purpose. A computer and a couple of guitars called it home. The room felt cold and uninviting just wasted floor space. Today, it is our paradise. Our portal to ultimate escapism deep in the heart of Texas.

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Early in the build

We had a lot of Tiki – ish items around the house. Our bar is actually an old workbench that my daughter and I made years ago. New top, some stain, little bit of carving, some light, and wallah.

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Covering all walls and ceiling with bamboo. in the build (the guitars still call the room home)

The room really started taking shape once we got the bamboo in.

Scouring the local resale shops for vintage or new. Some homemade like this lamp thing.

 

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Basket+float+vace thing.

The obligatory netted ceiling with random flotsam and jetsam was a must.

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Thatch made a huge difference.

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Guitars still call the room home.

Mixing Frankies drinks right at home.

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If the thought of creating a space like this has ever entered the mind – do it.

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The Bankhead Highway Newsletter

Vol. 1 Issue 5

The Bankhead Highway Newsletter 

Your source for Bankhead Highway news and information – Texas’ section. 

 

What is inside this month…

TabacrossTexas just completed the entire Texas’ Bankhead Highway Route. In eight days, we covered over 900 miles slow and easy, taking in as much as we could, while we stayed as true to the original century-old alignment as we could.

This month’s newsletter is dedicated to some of the unique stops and individuals we discovered while we Crossed the State in Eight.  

 

Bankhead Highway People.

Rosenda – Sierra Blanca, Texas. 

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Rosenda – The proprietor of “Sister Gift Shop and Rocks” – Sierra Blanca, Texas. 

 

An opened door in a dead town.

Sierra Blanca is, less of a town, more of a collection of decay.

Random relicts, soon to be rubble, front the old Bankhead town’s Mainstreet.

The Sister Gift Shop and Rocks sit between long abandoned and forgotten theatres and gas stations.

Wistful Warm West Wind carries tumbleweeds through forgotten streets. Dry air has mummified the stone and steel, prolonging the deterioration process. Terracotta colored streets flow into warm stucco-covered buildings whose facade is cracked, exposing the masonry beneath.

Inside the opened narrow entry, I meet Rosenda.

We talk like long lost friends.

Two individuals in a lonely place. Removed, temporarily, from time.

Two individuals exchanging personal information. Sharing as if we were the last two souls on earth.

We could be the last to souls in Sierra Blanca, Texas.

The shop is full of random rocks and jewelry, trinkets and novelties, dusty odds and broken ends.

We chat about where we are going and where we have been. In only minutes I learn about her life, children, challenges, and successes. We ponder the changes that are inevitable and what lies ahead.

I wander out into the afternoon heat and stand in the middle of the road. Overwhelmed with the insignificance of things thought as important, realizing those things that are precious. Things miles away but still as close as a thought.

Bob Stogsdill – Strawn, Texas. 

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Bob Stogsdill – Bankhead Highway Hotel sign painter. 

 

Bob Stogsdill repainted Strawn’s Bankhead Hotel sign. His time and patience brought the old hotel back to its former glory. Well, at least the hotel’s sign.  One can find Bob in the Strawn community museum.

Bob is a great guy that will enjoy discussing the history of Strawn and the Bankhead with any ear that will listen.

Eastland Texas – Keeping the Bankhead Highway alive.

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Eastland, Texas. Celebrating the old road. 

Eastland, Texas, has taken the initiative to support the Bankhead Highway by placing BH banners around the courthouse square.

I, for one, hope the signage and discourse about the Bankhead Highway push more heritage tourists, and adventurers,  out of their homes and onto the old road.

Within the walls of that Eastland County courthouse, one will find Old Rip. A resurrection story of a Phrynosoma.

Epicurian Exelence in Brashear, Texas

 

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No menu – just tell Betty what you like. 

Located only a couple of miles beyond Sulphur Springs city limits is Brashear, Texas. Brashear was founded in 1868 and its population has declined ever since.

Recently, a California transplant has opened shop in the old Brashear Country Store. Betty is the chief chef and pot scrubber of the most relaxed restaurant in all of Texas.

Betty is not shy in her presentation of self or food. She creates larger than life plates that impress.

Rockwall, Texas 

 

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1922 Bankhead Highway

 

 

What does Rockwall, Texas, offer a Bankhead Highway tourist?

Some great old submerged bridges and an incredible 1922 railroad bridge and a great microbrewery on Mainstreet.

Mineral Wells, Texas.

The Laumdronat – Washing Machine Museum.

 

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Yes – That is the way it is speeled.

 

How fun is this. Wash clothes and learn about the history of washing clothes.

 

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A collection of antique washers on display.

 

It is not just antique washers on display, cases line the walls with trinkets and wonders of the washateria, including this hanger dispenser.

 

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50 cents?

Next month we will highlight more places we discovered on our Across the State in Eight trip.

Thanks for following along.

 

Want to learn more about the Bankhead Highway in Texas?

If you are interested in learning more about the Bankhead Highway in Texas, be sure to get a copy of Dan SMith’s book

https://www.amazon.com/Bankhead-Highway-Texas-Dan-Smith/dp/0615916619 

 

Also, check out the following article on Roadtrippers.

https://roadtrippers.com/magazine/bankhead-highway-dan-smith/

More information about the Bankhead can be found at www.tabacrosstexas.com 

What to look for in the next Bankhead newsletter
Next month we will continue to focus on the people and places that make a Bankhead journey special.
We also are working on a trip itinerary for the Bankhead Highway. Our intention is to create a guide that will help the traveler discover some incredible people, places, and things along the Bankhead route.Please follow tabacrosstexas.com to stay up on Bankhead Highway News. Links below.

Stay safe and travel well.

 

Across the State in Eight – The End (part 8 – Pecos to El Paso) – A Bankhead Highway motorcycle adventure.

 

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“It is good to have an end to journey towards; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” 

-Ursula K. Le Guin

 

Over a century ago, The Bankhead Highway brought together communities, political figures, and economic forces to make Manifest Destiny possible for every person in America. It created the first all-weather, all-season route from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

Days ago, the Machine and I set out to find what was left of the Bankhead Highway in Texas.

A forgotten road.

A lost road.

A dead road?

Past Pecos, The Bankhead is now the service road for Interstate 20. We glide along the side of the big road and less than highway speeds. We are in no hurry.

Toyah, Texas, a haunting ghost town. Remembered for acts of violence, an expressively spooky abandoned schoolhouse, and the temporary home of Amelia Earhart.

Toyah is also where the original Bankhead Highway bridge that crossed the Pecos River currently resides.

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The Bankhead Highway’s Pecos River Bridge – relocated to an arroyo. 

Today the bridge is located on private land but can be seen from the road.

Soon the Davis Mountains will appear. First soft, with a purple hue, against the southern horizon. Gradually the flat land begins to roll. Foothills introduce me to a change in elevation and the Mountains grow taller with each passing mile.

Decay exist all along the road, such as The Joker Coffee Shop.

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The best coffee in West Texas.

The Joker harkens back to the day of classic midcentury America.

A time when colorful comradery would cumulate between patrons and waitresses. Inappropriate comments would linger in the air, mixing with the blue smoke of Marlboros and Winstons.

Vinyl booth cushions – thick with dirt and grime. Broken springs. Thick duct tape repairing the rips and tears.

A place of curious locals. Investigating out of state license plates with due suspicions.

Depraved ethos and morals from America’s greatest generation – I love it!

Below, an abandoned stretch of the road – slowing being reclaimed by Mother Nature in this harsh and arid climate.

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Old Road – Past Pecos.

Van Horn, Texas, at the crossroads of multiple National Parks.

A town who owes its life to the Texas and Pacific Railroad, my traveling buddy.

Van Horn is full of friendly folks, vintage lodging, and Chuy’s Restaurant home of the John Madden “Haul” of Fame.

The Historic El Capitan Hotel is located in Van Horn. The El Capitan’s sister property, The Hotel Paisano in Marfa, hosted the stars of the Hollywood production of Giant. The guests included Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, and James Dean.

 

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Lindsey’s, previously the Sands Cafe, a movie star. 

Lindsey’s Cafe was also in a movie.

The location was used in the 2005 film, “The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada,” starring Tommy Lee Jones. The iconic Sands sign has since been removed, but some memorabilia still exists inside.

Van Horn is a bit of an artsy town. Random sculptures and quirky art can be found all along Broadway, the Bankhead’s original route.

 

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Check your mattress, lots of big bugs and insects in Van Horn. 

The Taylor Motel is one of several early 20th century courts. Serving the traveler with budget-friendly clean rooms with an attached garage.

 

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Your room comes with a garage attached.

West of Van Horn segments of the road appear – headed west on private property.

 

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That is some original Bankhead.

I take a moment to park and walk the road.

The dry morning air fills my lungs, easy to breathe. A cool north breeze creates a comfortable balance with the warm summer sun.

Desert grasses and yucca surround me, a world away from the pine trees, wild ferns, and assorted deciduous trees of East Texas.

Long stretches of pavement abandoned for decades, curving around the landscape, rising and falling with the topography of the earth.

 

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Long abandoned – Easy to spot. 

Soon my path will drop into the Rio Grande Valley. Fertile lands where orchards thrive and produce an abundance of fruits.

I stop at the modern rest area. I view vast vistas of Texas, a view that has not changed in hundreds of years.

I pause to appreciate the determination of my forefathers.

In a time before service stations, cell phones, or bottled water, they would venture out into hostile and dangerous environments. Exploring, pathfinding, and creating, what would become one of the greatest system of roads the world has ever seen.

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A rest stop along the route. 

The Mountain Time Zone adds an hour to my life, I stop to spend it in Sierra Blanca, Texas.

The town is a collection of decay.

Random relicts, soon to be rubble, front the old Bankhead town’s Mainstreet.

 

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More deceptive advertisement for beer.

The town is not Pop Star friendly.

Snoop Dogg, Willie Nelson, Nelly, and Fiona Apple have all been arrested in the town of fewer than 600 residents.

Their crime, drug possession.

 

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The State Theatre – everything is still inside.

 

The “Sister Gift Shop and Rocks” is open and I  decide to pay the store a visit. Inside I find a collection of random rocks and jewelry, trinkets and novelties, dusty odds, and broken ends.

I meet the shop’s owner, Rosenda.

We talk like long lost friends.

Two individuals in a lonely place, removed from time and existing within something greater. Something not of our making. Something we respond to. A world that we must respect. An entity we must exist in humbly, for it is too large and powerful to respond, or bow to us.

We chat about where we are going and where we have been. In only minutes I learn about her life, children, challenges, and successes. We ponder the changes that are inevitable and what lies ahead.

I wander out into the afternoon heat and she continues her business within her shop.

 

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Rosenda – Sister Gift Shop and Rocks.

Sierra Blanca is a romantic West Texas ghost town.

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A Trading Post – abandoned in Sierra Blanca.

 

Allamoore, Texas, in the 1988-89 school year had a total of three students – the smallest enrollment in Texas.

Below is a photo of the remnants of the Allamoore public school.

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An old rock school east of Sierra Blanca. 

As close as I can get to the old road without being on private property is the service road. This allows me to adjust my pace and scan the roadside for the old road. I make frequent stops to enjoy the big sky and gorgeous views of the mountains that surround the huge valleys.

 

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Just me and The Machine.

The services are few and far between. Many stops have limited services such as non-working gas pumps, empty shelves, and refrigerators void of beverages.

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A limited service station. 

I turn south at Fort Hancock and head toward the border.

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Some merchandise is still on the shelf from 1883 – big markdowns on wool underwear.

I will be on Texas Highway 20 all the way into El Paso. Within an arms reach of Mexican dirt and traveling through the most beautiful orchards in Texas, I meander in and out of Mexican culture and Texas agriculture, a balance that has existed for years.

Today green and white border patrol vehicles are perched along the road. Keeping an eye out of ner-do-wells.

El Paso. An international Texas city. An independent. Wild. Claimed by only those who live within its boundaries.

 

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The End of the Line.

So here I am at Rosa Cantina. Over 900 hundred miles I have traveled. Changes in culture and climate, scenery and society, economics, and the environment.

An eclectic mix of people and places that all exist in Texas.

That cool morning days ago outside of Texarkana, Texas has brought me to this warm afternoon in El Paso.

Emotion hits me that my journey is over and I recall the first quote I borrowed from Henri Frederic Amiel – “The best path through life is the highway”.  I asked if the best path through Texas the Bankhead?

Today, I declare that if you are not in a hurry to end your journey. If life is too short to rush through. If you think you could find a friend in an unfamiliar place.Iif there are things hidden in the trees that you would like to see. If the world is a large place that still has things to discover.  Then yes, The Bankhead is the best path.

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Thank you to all who experienced this journey with me. I hope that this will encourage you to set out on your own adventure to experience something new.

God Bless.

 

Across the State in Eight (part 7- Loraine to Pecos) – A Bankhead Highway motorcycle adventure.

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“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view.”

-Edward Abbey

Solo motorcycle touring in vast unpopulated areas can seem daunting. The what-ifs, and what then, circulate in my mind.

Constantly.

The Machine’s sounds have become so familiar to my ear.

I find a rhythm in the ticks and bings. While chugging in the jugs and pops in the pipes, fill out the rest of the melody.

A mile at a time we take it, me and the Machine. Neither expecting any more from each other than what we are.  

To hell with the what-ifs, westward.

Bankhead signs aplenty.

Coloradocity

This one next to a cemetery on the route into Colorado city.

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The Colorado Hotel, aka The Baker. While not as grandiose as the other Baker properties she still has an attraction, at least to me.

Read more about the Colorado City, Baker, Hotel here.

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The biggest mic in the world?

Outside of Colorado City, Texas, the KVMC radio, larger than life mic is partnered up with a Bankhead Highway sign. Follow the link below to learn more about this history of this station and its owner.

KVMC radio station is known as  the “Voice of Mitchell County”

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The old Bankhead Alignment headed west into Big Springs, Texas.

Keep in mind, if you are on the interstate, you are not on the right road.

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A true 5-star hotel. 

 

The Hotel Settles underwent a 60 million dollar renovation recently, repositioning its status as the greatest hotel between El Paso and Fort Worth.

More about the hotel here.

Big Spring, Texas, is a nightlife town. Great restaurants and bars sit below the Hotel Settles.

I still claim that Lumbre has the best fish tacos on the planet.

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Not the largest Harley Davidson in Texas, but the oldest.

A stop at the oldest Harley Davidson dealership in Texas, that just happens to be right on the Bankhead Highway.

Keep an eye out for  Quanah Parker Arrows along the route.

 

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A Quanah Parker Arrow. 

 

This area of Texas was known as Comancheria. The Comanche occupied this land for 100s of years.

Anglo settlers began to tame the wild west by relocating the Native Americans to reservation lands. This was a time of change for the Kiowa and Comanche.

Quanah Parker became a great leader of the Comanches during this time of transition. Quanah assimilated while maintaining his Comanche culture. He bipartisanly negotiated with Anglos and Native Americans to develop mutually beneficial understandings.

Several of these arrows, celebrating Quanah Parker, can be found in  Bankhead Highway towns.

 

 

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A little W. rode his bike around here. 

 

Right off the Bankhead Highway route is the childhood home of President George W. Bush, in Midland. I guess it would have also been President Bush’s, President Bush’s dad’s, home as well.

I find a great one-stop-shop on the route in Odessa, Texas.

 

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What else would one need?

 

Midland and Odessa are full of great sights. Vintage motels line the route as well as museums and shops.

I continue on down the Bankhead.

Just west of  Odessa, the Machine and I fall off the Caprock. A dramatic difference in landscape and flora.

Now it seems like a desert.

 

 

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Well marked routes. 

 

There is my sign. Right next to my tried and true railroad track.

The Monahans Sand Dunes collect just north of my path. The sand dunes are home to the world’s largest, smallest, oak tree forest.

The forest is over 40,000 acres and the trees are not more than three feet tall.

Check out the link to learn more.

Next to my route is a water tank for the old Texas and Pacific Railroad.

 

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When a train needs a drink?

 

I stay on the service road, the original alignment. Away from the motorists who are in a hurry.

From Pyote, Texas, I take a detour to Wink, Texas, to check out a museum.

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Wink, Texas, is the hometown of Roy Orbison.

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The small town celebrates its Rock-n-Roll legend with a museum right on Mainstreet.

Visitors can actually try on a pair of Orbison’s own glasses.

Back on the Bankhead, I find the Rattlesnake Bomber Base. 

The second airbase we have visited out in west Texas that was utilized to train pilots and crew during World War II.

Rattlesnake Bomber Base was the B-17 Flying Fortress crew training base. After the war, the base became home for unused aircraft including the Enola Gay.

 

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A lonely forgotten historical marker – A place that helped secure world freedom. 

 

On December 2, 1953, the Enola Gay was flown out of Pyote, Texas’, Rattlesnake Bomber Base to the National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C., the last time it was in the air.

On to Pecos, Texas, home of the first rodeo.

Yes, the first rodeo ever.

 

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Was the Bankhead, BH, an afterthought?

 

Big Boots in Pecos outside the museum with a little BH on them.

It is disheartening to find things turned to rubble. Sometimes it is Mother Nature reclaiming what is hers. Other times it is Man clearing the way for progress or to remove an eyesore.

 

 

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The little that is left of the Boulder Courts 

All that is left of the Boulder Courts in Pecos is the sign and arch entry.

Why couldn’t they just have torn it all down?

 

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Back in the day. 

 

I will end Across the State in Eight (part 7) – A Bankhead Highway motorcycle adventure with the final pour from Cisco’s own, Red Gap Brewing “Gunsight Hefeweizen”.

 

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Stay tuned for part 8, and the end to the Bankhead Highway Adventure.