It was a perfect storm…in a good way. Nick noticed that the Cubs would be playing the Texas Rangers in Arlington, and my friend Andrea sent me an article from the New York Times about sights along U.S. 281. We put the two ideas together and *poof* a Texas road trip was born.
We left Saturday morning, not quite as early as we’d hoped. As soon as we got out of the suburbs, I could tell we’d chosen wisely when we decided to take 281 instead of I-35, the busy interstate that runs north and south through the center of the state. U.S. 281 is definitely the scenic, rural route. We saw lots of old abandoned gas stations, fields filled with wildflowers, and small Hill Country towns.
Our first stop: the Hill Country town of Burnet. We stopped for lunch at Storm’s, a burger joint that I had read about in the New York Times article. The portions were generous, the prices were reasonable, and the food was average. However, it was certainly better than stopping for lunch at some chain restaurant. We got to enjoy our lunch outside on a wooden deck, in the shade of a few large trees. Definitely not the kind of scene you’d find along an exit ramp off the interstate.
We got back in the car and continued north on U.S. 281 until we decided it was time for some caffeine. Luckily, we spotted Kool Beans, a small coffee shop located in Hamilton, Texas. Nick and I enjoyed some coffee–the house blend for Nick and the special vanilla bean coffee for me–while E. had a lemonade. The woman working at the cafe that afternoon was so friendly. We had a nice conversation before it was time to get back on the road.
We reached Arlington just in time to check into our hotel before taking the trolley to Rangers Ballpark. The trolley, which takes fans to and from area hotels to the stadium, was certainly a convenient way to go. However, taking the trolley back after the game is extremely inconvenient, but I’ll get to that later.
The baseball game was great! As I’ve mentioned before, we’re Cubs fans, so Chicago’s 10th-inning win was a thrill to see in-person. E. hung in there for all ten innings, and we were thrilled that she seemed to enjoy the game.
Afterwards, we walked out of the stadium to catch the trolley and noticed that there were no trolleys waiting to transport fans…but plenty of fans waiting for the trolley. After waiting and watching two trolleys come by, barely making a dent in the number of people waiting to return to their hotels, we decided it was time for plan B. We spotted a cab and hopped in. About ten minutes and $12 later, we were back at the hotel.
Sunday morning we ate breakfast at the hotel and hit the road, this time taking I-35 back to San Antonio. We definitely missed the scenery we had enjoyed the day before. However, there were a few advantages to taking I-35. For one thing, it cut about 90 minutes off of the driving time. Also, it allowed us to stop in Waco for lunch. Thanks to Twitter, we were directed to Ninfa’s where we chowed down on some Tex-Mex.
We had a wonderful time, and I’m so glad we were able to explore some new places in addition to seeing the Cubs play. Country roads, good coffee, baseball…what could be better?