November 2018 – After we left the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Indiana, it was late fall and high time to head to the southwest to warm up and dry off. Buddy has written about our stay in New Mexico, but there were some highlights before that I’d like to fill in.
The first was along I-70 between Indianapolis and St. Louis. Most interstate rest areas are nothing to write home about, but we’ve found a few in our travels that are unique, and such was the case at the Cumberland Road Rest Area in Marshall, Illinois.
As we walked towards the building we noticed a small group of people staring at something on the ground right by the entrance door — with smiles on their faces. When we got closer we realized they were all looking at a beautiful black cat.
The cat was just sitting there by the door, blinking slowly in the bright morning sunlight. People were wondering aloud if he was a lost pet or a runaway or if he was waiting for his owner to finish up in the bathroom.
Then a fellow joined the group and explained that as a trucker who had come to the rest area many times before, he knew this beautiful feline.
His name was Ghost, the Rest Area Cat. Just like the trucker, the cat had a regular route, going from one farm house to the next in the area.
But he seemed to like the digs (and mice) at the rest area best, so he hung around the rest area a lot and made friends with the regulars and the transients. His human friends kept a good eye on him, though, and gave him a collar and a very cool nametag.
If your travels ever take you on I-70 westbound, stop at the rest area that’s about 10 miles west of Terre Haute and say hello to Ghost!
We got back on the interstate and the scenery buzzed by our windows in a blur. We all got white line fever and the places we drove by all began to blend together.
But a brief stop at Fort Gibson Lake in Oklahoma stood out. This is a popular boating and fishing spot for local sailors and anglers and it’s a lovely spot for photography.
In the midst of enjoying the views, we suddenly heard the whoosh of madly flapping wings and rapidly slapping webbed feet on the water. We looked up to see a huge flock of cormorants flying in from around the point and landing in the bay in front of us.
Wave upon wave of cormorants kept flying around the point and splash landing in the water. We’ve never seen so many cormorants in a single flock.
For at least five minutes the birds kept coming, until the whole bay in front of us was completely filled with birds bobbing in the water.
And then after another vigorous round of splashing and flapping, they flew off and the water became calm again!
We got off the interstate and traveled on a slew of secondary roads that took us through lots of small towns. As we approached Albany, Texas, we decided to have a look around. What a neat little find this town turned out to be!
We’d crossed a few states since leaving Indiana, but we knew we were in Texas when we saw the big Texas star on the side of a building.
The building turned out to be the Whitney Theater, home of the Dance Theater Company. Albany is a small town in size but it is big into the arts!
The old jail house in Albany is now a modern art museum with a renowned collection. Outside the Old Jail Art Center there were lots of interesting sculptures. One was “Tex the Roustabout.” He got Buddy’s attention!
Albany is is the county seat for Shackleford County and has a pretty courthouse.
Our favorite spot in Albany was Sander’s Drug Store. As we walked across the antique mosaic sign on the ground, we felt like we were walking into another era.
Inside there were people enjoying refreshments at tables and the antique looking pharmacy was out back.
We got a latte and took a seat outside the store to watch the world go by on Main Street. The couple at the next table started chatting with us and telling us how much they love this little town and that it’s their favorite weekend getaway spot from their home in Abilene 35 miles away.
Albany may be a cute and artsy town today, but its roots are in cattle and oil. High up on a wall inside Sander’s Drug Store a Texas Longhorn looked down at us.
When we began wandering the streets of town again we found a metal sculpture of a Texas longhorn too as well as a plaque memorializing the Texas Cattle Trails of 1875 to 1890. Cattle herds from Texas were driven up to the railheads in Kansas along these routes.
Petroleum production was the other big industry in the area and still is. A replica oil pump outside an oilfield services office sported the high school Albany Lions football team helmet.
As we walked around town we came to a stand of trees that had dropped the most enormous acorns we had ever seen. These things were huuuuge!
Well, as they say, everything is bigger in Texas, even the acorns!
Even though we blasted across a few states to get back to the warm and dry southwest quickly, these few stops along the way made for some great memories.
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A little more info:
Our RV travels in Oklahoma and Texas
- Rainbow’s End – Escapees RV Club Headquarters!
- Caverns of Sonora – Enchanting Caves in Texas
- Boquillas del Carmen – A Taste of Mexico in Big Bend TX
- Terlingua, Texas – A Living Ghost Town in Big Bend
- Boondocking at Big Bend National Park – Cheap & Scenic RV Camping
- Big Bend National Park – Mountain, River & Desert Hikes
- Big Bend National Park TX – Vast and Varied with Views!
- Casita Travel Trailers – Lots of RV in a Tiny Package
- Slip Sliding Away – An Ice Storm in Texas
- A Glimpse of Big Bend National Park in Texas
- Big Bend Bound – To Texas!!
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There must be an endless supply of these delightful small towns in America. Aren’t we lucky to live in this great land! My wife and I also have a favorite small town about 30 miles away from our home. It’s close enough to enjoy during the week after work. We often ride our motorcycle there to eat dinner on the square and to enjoy the locals moving about. Our world slows down a bit when we visit Madison, Ga. Thanks for another great story and for sharing you great adventure with the rest of us! Merry Christmas!
Small towns are wonderful and we have found so many utterly charming towns across this beautiful country. You live near some of favorites — Madison, Eatonton and Milledgeville — which we visited a few years ago as we worked our way up much of the Antebellum Trail (blog post here). How nice to be able to take a short drive and feel your heart slow down as you settle into a slower pace! Merry Christmas to you too!!
Wonderful pics, Em. Love the character of these little towns. Artistic. Do they have an online website where I can purchase a radio phonograph? 😉
I think you have to step into a time machine to get one of those, Bob. But I suspect little entanglement at a certain gravestone near you might do the trick!
What a cool little town Albany is. We love Texas too and their many small towns. So cool to discover them.
We agree — Texas is a wonderful state and there’s a lot of variety from one end to the other. We loved bumping into Albany on this trip, and we have fond memories from the towns of Paris and Alpine and the many fun communities around Hill Country too!
As Hitchhiker 5th wheelers ourselves, we so enjoy your newsletters! And as dog lovers, we enjoy seeing the world through Buddy’s eyes! We found our 4-legged “buddy” in Texas, thus his AKC name, “Made in Texas,” or Tex for short. We hope to meet you on Roads Less Traveled some day!
How fun to hear from some fellow Hitchhikers who love dogs!! Thank you for joining us on our travels, Faye. Hopefully we’ll cross paths somewhere. I’m sure Tex and Buddy could share a few tales (or tails!).
“Small town America”….our precious heritage, each one unique depending on “where” in this great land. New England – my favorite !!! Merry Christmas to all three of you…..
Thank you! We so enjoy our visits to small towns all across this beautiful country. Each has its own unique spirit, and no two are alike!! Merry Christmas and Happy 2019!!
Hi Emily and Mark
We wish you a Merry Christmas and and a happy New Year.
We are enjoying your blog and hope to see you in AZ.
Hi Charlotte and Marcel! We sure hope to see you in AZ after the holidays and do some hiking and/or biking together. Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year’s, and thank you for following our adventures!