Our California adventure began on the outskirts of Houston, TX. After a frantic morning of packing, we finally got on the road at about 11 o’clock with the mighty goal to reach El Paso by the end of the day. The plan was to leave early in the morning, but let’s just say, that plan disintegrated rather quickly. Anyhow, we hit the holiday road with a car completely packed, and bursting at the seams, my husband and I, our two daughters, a large wobbly cooler balancing on the back seat in between the kids, and a 75-pound dog, our Golden Retriever Sammy. It was going to be a long day of travelling in Texas.
Our first stop was Fulshear, TX, where we dropped off Sammy at the Waggin’ Tails Pet Resort for his puppy vacation. From there, we found our way to Interstate 10 (I-10), an amazingly uninteresting freeway that goes on, and on, and on…until it finally dumps its victims in the smog and traffic of Los Angeles. OK, I do actually love LA, and I-10…just trying to think of something clever here!
On the Road, and Hungry
Most of our day consisted of a lot of driving, non-stop munching on various nuts, dried fruit, fresh fruit, drinking of juices, water, carbonated drinks, and then some more munching. I don’t know what it is about long drives that makes your body turn into a bottomless snack and drink processor! With us, it happens every time we drive for more than 3 hours. So, we drove on, and we munched away…and after we passed all major signs of Texas civilization, and we had been driving in the wild west for sometime, we acknowledged that we were getting hungry, yet again. What do you know, it was time for dinner! I realized there was a very slim chance that we would find something other than your typical highway fast food junk. Without much hope, I looked down at my cell phone, and surprise, surprise! There was a dot of signal, a small dot of hope! I quickly went to Yelp, and somehow managed to pull up all the dining options that were in this particular middle of nowhere. Unexpectedly, something did catch my attention, a place called the Wagon Wheel BBQ located in Ozona, TX. So, we decided to trust the glowing reviews, and go eat there. We figured even if it wasn’t great, it couldn’t be any worse than all the culinary delights found right near the freeway. Little that we knew, we were in for a treat!
The Wagon Wheel BBQ in Ozona, TX
We found the place, and parked near what looked like an old gas station. As we entered inside, we were greeted with a “howdy”, and a slim elderly man dressed in proper cowboy attire (hat, jeans, boots, and all) set up a table for us. His name was Kirby, the owner. In a few minutes, his wife Ladonna came and took our order. All of us decided to go with the BBQ chicken sandwich. Yes, you can always get beef brisket, pork ribs, even turkey. Chicken, however, is not a common occurrence in most Texas BBQ joints.
I have to say, the sandwiches were awfully delicious! We complimented Kirby on his superior skills and rare talent in the art of chicken barbecuing. He thanked us as he tilted his cowboy hat, and said, “Chicken is the hardest thing I do!” He explained that it was very difficult to barbecue chicken because it could not be undercooked like beef, but it should not get too dry either. Apparently, Kirby knew the exact sweet moment in the cooking process, when the chicken was perfect…and it truly was! I am thinking, Kirby just might be the BBQ chicken whisperer!
Dogs and A Swinging Tire
As we finished our dinner, Kirby and Ladonna caught on that we were dog people. So, they introduced us to their three dogs, Maggy, Bitsy, and Cheeky. I knew right then and there that making El Paso that night was probably a long shot, especially now that dogs were introduced into the picture. After playing for some time with the pups, Kirby showed the kids a tire that he had hung from a tree. As he started swinging and spinning them, I could see that the kids were about ready to ditch the whole California trip, and stay in Ozona.
Fortunately, the Texas summer heat got to them quickly, and they realized it might actually be quite nice to sit in an air conditioned car. So, we got on our way out West sooner than I expected! In the end, Kirby and Ladonna didn’t only serve us delicious BBQ chicken, but also treated us to some real Texas expressions. When I asked them what their plans were for the evening, they replied, “We are FIXIN’ TO go pick up the grandchildren!” I wished them all the best, and thanked them once again for the dinner and hospitality. “You are MIGHTY welcome!”, said Kirby as he tilted his cowboy hat forward.
Back on the Road
Refreshed from this tasty and authentic Texas experience, we continued our drive feeling more determined than ever to take on El Paso…and we did. We reserved a hotel on the go, and arrived around 11:50 pm. We even gained an hour, so really it was 10:50 pm there. Pleased with our first day of summer vacation, we tried to get the best sleep we possibly could on a wobbly, hotel, spring mattress. Ah, the wonders of travelling in Texas!
Join us again on the following day, when we arrive Finally In California!
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