Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Abilene, Texas

April 11 - 15, 2017:

It’s 84 miles north on route 277 from San Angelo to Abilene, Texas.  It’s mostly ranch country except for a huge Goodyear Tire Test Track facility that was unexpected and seemingly out of place.  The other noteworthy sight was a huge wind farm, with hundreds of huge turbines going far into the distance.  As we came to within about 20 miles of Abilene the landscape started getting greener with more farms and trees.  We then exit onto route 89 to the Abilene State Park.

Riding into the Buffalo Gap Wind Farm

Abilene State Park was built by the CCC in the 1930’s and has a beautiful pool house, a unique water tower and a large swimming pool surrounded by athletic fields and picnic areas.  It is adjacent to Abilene Lake which has boating, fishing, lots of wildlife and a 3 1/2 mile loop hiking trail.

CCC built Water Tower

Beautiful pool house building, unfortunately the pool was
not yet open for the season

We bought the Texas State Park annual pass for $70 back at San Angelo State Park and have saved over $100 after only 12 camping days.  It’s a really great deal and so far we feeling good about the Texas park system.

There are several short hiking trails in the park which are heavily wooded.  Twinkles had a surprise run in with a wild pig and her young ones on a trail, but no problem, she scared them off.  We then saw another pig a couple of days later at the Lake from a distance.  We also did part of a loop trail at the Lake, good lake views, but otherwise flat and boring.

These pigs are large

Abilene Lake is almost filled to capacity

The Lake has a red muddy color to it

Lots of Turkey Buzzards here, this one flew right over us

Abilene is another city with a struggling downtown attempting to reinvent itself with museums, history, arts, specialty shops, antique stores and government offices.  I see the beauty in these places, love the artistry of the old buildings, even the ones that soon may be demolished.

The restored Texas & Pacific Train Depot

The Windsor Hotel

Post Office and Federal Building

Old passenger train platform with a message

A better message 

A colorful mural

Texas Long Horn with a bird ?

Could this be a long lost family member?

Nice grain elevator view

Some days I feel like this

Nice bird details over window

Abilene has a series of storybook sculptures in the downtown around the Train Depot.  They are all well done, but I can't remember them

That's old St. Nick

I have no idea ?

Twinkles with the Grinch who _____?

Frontier Texas is one of the most highly rated attractions in Abilene.  It has very creative historical exhibits with “hologram” figures from the pioneer days talking about their times.  They also show a movie in a circular room with 360 degree sound, light and audio projected on the walls.  We happened to be in there with a grade school class, the kids sat there in awe during the show.

The exterior of Frontier Texas

One of the Indian hologram figures

Comanche buffalo hide painting

Comanche tent interior

Another “must see” attraction is the Paramount Theater which has been fully restored. It remains open for movies, concerts and other events.  I went on Saturday afternoon when it was open and they allow you to wander around inside.  They did an incredible job of restoring it back to the original condition.

Beautiful Paramount Theater

Interior is totally restored

Looking down into the lobby

The ticket booth

Twinkles was particularly interested in going to the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature.  It has a rotating exhibit that tours nationally on a featured artist of children books.  This particular exhibit was on the art of James Ransome who has illustrated many books, many of which were written by his wife.  He is an excellent black artist and many of the books were geared for black children, but they were mostly ageless, inspirational stories.  They had the books available to read along with a few of the original framed art works used in the each book hanging on the wall.  I enjoyed them so much, I read about half of them from cover to cover.

Upcoming festival banner out front

We stopped for lunch at the highly rated Hickory Street Grille where I had the house specialty chicken salad with grapes and cashews. It is located in a house converted into a cafe and is very popular, there was a short wait for a table, but it was well worth the wait.

Very nice cafe

It’s virtually impossible for me to avoid a Bakery and an excellent one is McKay’s Bakery where I struggled to leave with only one small bag of treats.  I did return again on another day for more and a potato soup with two tasty corn muffins.


Not to be missed !

The historic town of Buffalo Gap is situated between the State Park and Abilene.  In the early days it was as prominent as Abilene and the two were vying to be the County seat.  Abilene eventually won the County seat when the railroad bypassed Buffalo Gap and instead went through Abilene.  As a result Abilene grew into a major Texas city with a population of 113,000 while Buffalo Gap remains a quaint small town with a population 423.  A number of old historic buildings have been saved and moved to the Buffalo Gap Historic Village, it's well worth a visit.

The Buffalo Gap Mercantile

Jail cell

The Court House with jail cell upstairs

Old wagon falling apart, wondering why these places
don't do something to stabilize the deterioration

Old Gas Station had good stuff inside

Good exhibits about the dust bowl

The Buffalo Gap flea market is an unique event held on one weekend each month that draws a big crowd.  We happened to be here for it and it was quite interesting, but more like something you would expect in a third world country.   The weirdest part was the caged chickens, ducks, rabbits, pigs and goats for sale. Also lots of guns, knives and tools of all kind, not so much for Twinkles to appreciate.

This iron work was very nice

The chickens in the crates were different

I ventured into downtown Abilene on Saturday night to the Neon Parrot Lounge to hear the live music.  The night life in downtown Abilene is about non-existent with the streets dark and mostly deserted.  I was liking the musicians, but the place was sort of weird and boring.  Pouring your beer into a plastic cup is just wrong !   Around the corner was Fat Bosses Pub with a DJ and a bigger crowd if you like that sort of thing and there was another more upscale looking club with girls outside in their party dresses.

In front of Fat Bosses Pub

I’m really tiring of the friendly people waving and asking “How y’all doing”.  Time to move on, the next stop is Wichata Falls, Texas;

Twinkles and Slick 

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