Monday, March 13, 2017

FORT WAYNE, INDIANA!

In anticipation of the 2017 Oscars telecast, we decided to take a quick trip to Fort Wayne, Indiana in order to watch a movie. Everybody does this, right? We realized that we had seen every film that had been nominated for the major categories (Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress) – with the exception of one. And that movie was “Elle.” Being a foreign release it didn’t get nearly the same theater exposure as some of the other films. It was actually playing in a couple of theaters in the Chicago area. But… we had already completed the state of Illinois (county-wise). But there were two counties in northeast Indiana that we had inexplicably missed. And those counties were 25 miles south of Fort Wayne. So it was perfect. No county left behind!


We braved a slight snowstorm and headed out on Saturday morning. We drove straight through to Fort Wayne and the Carmike 20 Theaters. The film started at 4:40. We arrived with about 15 minutes to spare. As blind luck would have it, our hotel (the Comfort Suites North) was a block away.


The movie ended around 7:00. Afterward we decided to go to dinner at Coney Island – the most popular restaurant in the city. It’s over 100 years old and serves hot dogs. And the line was out the door. So we decided to move on straight for the two counties we needed to hit.

We headed south of the city on HWY 1. About 20 miles later we entered Jay County. A few miles later we headed west on HWY 18 and entered Blackford County. Our goals for the weekend had been met! From there we turned back around and went straight to Red Robin for a late dinner.


The following morning we got up and headed straight to Coney Island. We were determined to try it. And even though we showed up 90 minutes after they opened (9:00 on Sunday morning) the place was already busy. And for the record, the hot dogs are quite tasty.





Upon leaving we headed straight home. It was a crazy weekend for only two bonus counties. But that’s what we do! So what’s next? Well we have a four-day weekend planned in Nashville over a long Easter weekend. So stay tuned!

                                                NEW COUNTIES - 2
                                                TOTAL COUNTIES FOR 2017 - 38
                                                ALL TIME COUNTY TOTAL - 1559

Thursday, January 19, 2017

CENTRAL TEXAS!

For our first trip of 2017 we decided to take a trip to Texas. We flew into Dallas on a Saturday afternoon. Upon arrival we immediately headed south. Our destination for the night was Austin. We went south on I-35 before getting off near the city of Milford. We continued another five miles and entered Hill County near the city of Mertens. In town we headed east on Highway 22, went about one mile, then crossed into Navarro County. From there we turned around and went back.

We then headed towards Waco. As we traveled down Highway 31 we got off to try and pick up Limestone County. According to Google Maps there was a parallel road that ran by Highway 31. And there was. But it was a dirt road through a field. And unfortunately it ended before we reached the county line. Google Maps had failed us. We doubled back and found an alternate route – through another field and a very rickety wood bridge. But we crossed over. No county left behind!


After leaving Limestone County we got back on the highway. And it was a straight shot to our hotel, the Homewood Suites by Hilton in Austin. Along the way we picked up McLennan, Falls, Bell, Williamson and Travis Counties.

On Sunday we had a full day planned. We started it by heading west. Our destination was the Lyndon Baines Johnson Ranch. We drove through Hays, Blanco and Gillespie Counties before arriving at the home of our 36th President. We took the tour of house and encountered the free roaming cattle. The house tour is fascinating and well worth the $3.00 admission.











Once we left the ranch we headed to San Antonio. Heading south on Highway 87 we entered Kendall County. The road briefly crossed into Kerr County as well. As we approached San Antonio we took a detour on the north side near an area called Fair Oaks. In a wealthy residential neighborhood (filled with dozens of non-spooked deer) we crossed into Comal County. Our next stop was the Alamo. So we entered Bexar County – a county that we had been to four years earlier.





After leaving the Alamo we took the boat ride and had a late lunch on the River Walk. With full bellies from our Mexican meal, we headed south. Our destination for the night was Corpus Christie. We took I-37 all the way down. We picked up Atascosa, Live Oak and San Patricio Counties. We made a brief stop in the city of Mathis so we could drive an extra five miles and pick up the bonus county of Jim Wells. Our last new county of the night was Nueces County – where our Corpus Christie hotel (the Embassy Suites by Hilton) was located. We spent the night at the Embassy Suites by Hilton.

On Monday we headed to Padre Island National Seashore – and Kleberg County. We took a stroll down to the beach and ended up stumbling upon a bunch of sea turtles that were being put back to sea after being rescued. Before we left we had to do the obligatory drive on the beach as well.






After leaving Padre Island we started our long drive back north to Dallas. We crossed Corpus Christi Bay and after crossing into San Patricio County once again, we continued north into Aransas and Refugio County. We stopped at the Burger King in Refugio to pick up some lunch for the road. Incidentally the restaurant has a trough for a urinal. From there we ventured onto Highway 202 to briefly enter Bee County before Turning north and heading into Goliad County. Just prior to going through the city of Goliad, we pulled over to see the Presidio La Bahia – location of the Goliad Massacre during the Texas Revolution.







Our next stop was outside the city of Bastrop. We sought out the location where one of the opening scenes from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was filmed. To get there we drove through Dewitt, Karnes, Wilson, Gonzales, Guadalupe, Caldwell and Bastrop Counties. We’d heard there was a barbecue place there – just like in the movie. But it wasn’t open. And it didn’t appear to have been open for awhile. But it was very cool – complete with green van and all.









For our final stretch back to Dallas we criss-crossed through Central Texas picking up Lee, Burleson, Milam, Robertson and Freestone Counties. We stopped in Corsicana to eat dinner at Chili’s. From there we headed straight to our hotel – the Embassy Suites by Hilton Dallas Love Field.


When it was all said and done we’d picked up 36 new counties. What’s next? Well that remains to be seen. We are tentatively planning a long summer road trip – possibly through the northwest U.S. But that’s not yet set in stone. I’m sure we’ll have a few weekend road trips before then too. But the locations are not yet known. So stay tuned!

                                                NEW COUNTIES - 36
                                                TOTAL COUNTIES FOR 2017 - 36
                                                ALL TIME COUNTY TOTAL - 1557