Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee
kevin_standlee

The Road to SMOFCon, Day 6: Clovis NM to S/w/e/e/t/w/a/t/e/r Abilene TX

Although we originally planned on stopping at Sweetwater TX today, we made such good progress that around lunchtime we checked other places to stop along our line of travel and discovered that the Holiday Inn Express in Abilene was $25/night less and included a 1000-point IHG bonus. I was able to rebook us without penalty, making today's journey Clovis to Abilene, about 275 miles not including the several diversions we made. Despite the trip-planning program not understanding time zones very well, we still got to the hotel before sundown.

RS&P Old Number 5

While passing through Snyder, Texas, we spotted a steam locomotive on display in a park. We diverted over to get a picture of Roscoe, Snyder and Pacific #5, with an ugly repaint job on the name. Click through to see another picture of the locomotive and of the historical marker associated with it.

UP along I-20

Later that day, along I-20 approaching Abilene, with Lisa driving, I photographed this Union Pacific container train passing another "bare table" (intermodal train with nothing in the container holders) train at Tye Siding on the UP ex-Texas & Pacific route.

After leaving the hotel in Clovis this morning, we shortly passed into Texas and proceeded east on US-84. With enough time to do so, we sometimes stopped and looked at historical markers, where we learned about history and geography of the area.

The great high plateau covering much of west Texas and eastern New Mexico is called the Llano Estacado, as we learned from one of the markers.

Off the Escarpment

At this picnic area off US-84, we could see the plains to the east as the highway comes off the escarpment. The down of Post TX, named for CW Post, the "cereal king" for which Post Toasties is named, lies ahead.

Llano Estacado

Later, we stopped and took a photo from the plains looking back at the escarpment from which we'd just descended.

CW Post Rain Battles

Another marker described how Post tried to break a drought in west Texas by use of explosives.

Oil Country

Not to our surprise, there were many oil wells and oil-storage facilities along the way.

Turbines Over Texas

More to our surprise, there were a lot of wind turbines.

It happened too quickly for me to get a photo of it, but as we came into Abilene, a large airplane took off from Dyess Air Force Base right over our heads, shaking the van with the sound of its departure. "What was that?" I asked Lisa, and she identified it as a B-1B bomber, which I had never seen in person before.

When we got to the hotel in Abilene, I finally had the presence of mind to ask the Holiday Inn Express desk clerk if there were any Platinum upgrades available. I simply forgot to ask the previous two HIX nights. Given how lightly loaded both Williams and Clovis appeared to be, I bet I would have got an upgrade there if I had thought to ask, given how one-night upgrades are often pretty easy to get if the hotel isn't full.

Upgrade in Abilene

The upgraded mini-suite was nice (travelswithkuma likes it), but we were mystified to see that there were no chairs for the "dining room" table. Lisa asked the desk clerk, who said there was indeed supposed to be a chair for that table, and brought one up to the room while we were unpacking the minivan.

After getting some things to drink at a nearby grocery store, we once again ordered in a pizza. While that order was processing, we started doing laundry. Like most Holiday Inn Express locations, there is a guest laundry. At this one, the washer and dryer were even free, which was pretty nice. Lisa had planned ahead sufficiently to include a bag of laundry detergent in our supplies. We are mostly caught up now, and will arrive in Fort Worth for SMOFCon tomorrow sometime mid-afternoon. Having got farther ahead than originally planned, we can sleep in a bit tomorrow morning, with our only time constraint being the breakfast room hours.
Tags: hotels, kuma bear, lisa, texas, trains, travel
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