Day 21: Smokin’ in West Texas

Quite literally.  Everything was pretty and blue and sunny in Fort Worth.  But then a little west of there, I noticed it was dry and dusty.  I got some schmutz in my eye that tormented me for about an hour.  Luckily, it wasn’t my camera eye.  Also, the dogs experienced their first stickers in their feet and were not pleased.  Even when given the okay to hop out of the van, Fix usually stays in now.  Just in case.  Even Grip sniffs a bit and goes back in on her own.  Nik will run and hobble after balls until he stops dead in pain for me to come over to pull stuff out of his feet.  Grem just takes careful baby steps and focuses on eating weeds or dead things rather than running off.  Welcome to West Texas guys!

And then it got really windy.  So much so that I had trouble opening and closing the van door.  And holding still enough to actually take pictures.  And having maps blowing about inside the van if the windows were down at all.  And then I noticed the smoke.  And that continued for the rest of the day and we’re all still breathing and living with it tonight.  How do people here live with this?  Grass fires, wild fires, blowing sandy dirt.  And you can’t get away from the smoke.  Burning your lungs, stinging your eyes.  The dogs were sneezing a lot.  And I just feel dried up, dirty, and cranky.  So it’s maybe a good thing that there won’t be time for more of West Texas after all.  And I’m just hoping for no fires up in Oklahoma.  Or tornados or hail or whatever.

Yes, a beautiful morning in Fort Worth.  Cool & blue.  This place is vacant but the sign remains:

This place IS open.  For scale, I believe that car is life-sized or close to it:

I think this sign is only from the 1980s — but cool:

Funky roof & colors — of course, I had to pull over:

Still open:

Moving on to River Oaks.  I’ll go pretty far out of my way to shoot a donut sign:

And this place had a pretty funky (in a good way) building as well:

Got two basics – my first donuts since the food poisoning or whatever it was – glazed & chocolate iced.  I don’t know why they look so big here.  If anything, they were on the small side.  Light and good and no problems digesting:

I can’t resist shooting just about any porcelain & neon car signs. In Weatherford:

and under the sign,  a number of Studebaker vehicles.  Just as nice rusty as they are restored:

Also in Weatherford — this one survives from the Coronado Motel:

Lots of longhorn skull sculptures in the past few days.  This one was the biggest so far.  In Albany:

On to Abilene — where I’ve been before but missed a bunch of stuff.  These two signs advertised for the El Toro Drive-in restaurant originally:

A fun sculpture — is this a rat?  A scrawny pig?

fun letters:

great modern sign (I think) — or maybe adapted oldie:

just amazing:

From some Googling, it seems this place (now vacant) was a draperies & curtains store.  Although maybe it was something else before that.  What could that cylindrical tower have been used for?

The little attached strip mall:

And after breathing smoke all day, into the flames we go.  This was in Gordon.  I posted a photo of the trolley car building at Flickr — but this gives you a better idea of the clouds & smoke factor.  The Trolly (sic) 373 (mile marker 373 on I-20 as you can see) was a restaurant attached to a former Sinclair gas station.  This Texaco next door  is obviously abandoned now as well:

And driving towards Graham for the night — but never made it.  Roads were blocked because of the fires so I had to return to Mineral Wells.  This appears like sunset but it was about an hour early tonight with the smoke.

I still hear fire trucks outside so I don’t know if we really will make it to Graham tomorrow.  Or if it will even be worth it if the photos will be all orangey.  I still haven’t figured out just how much is accomplishable tomorrow.  I’ll try to prioritize in the morning.  More than likely, some of the northwesternish TX stuff may get dragged into Sunday morning.  Or maybe I’ll just get fed up with the smoke and head for OK early.

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