Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Miles and Miles of Miles and Miles

Monday was one of those serendipitous days full of out-of-the way adventures, most of them related to shopping. Not in my wildest dreams would I have imagined a quilt shop that served wine.

First, though, we had to leave Marshall, Texas. Before we could get out of the parking lot of the EconoLodge, we spied our first shopping mecca. It was Texas Gates, just across the street. With its wrought-iron gates, fire pits, Texas stars, cedar swings and metal replicas of bluebonnets, it called to us like the voice of sirens. Or maybe the yodel of singing cowboys. So instead of getting back on the interstate, we whipped across the street to take a gander. Believe it or not, we got out without spending a dime.

After a few short miles on I-20 West, we finally hit the backroads at Longview. We took U.S. Highway 80 West via the 281 Loop. We passed a veterinary sign proclaiming the Best Little Hound House in Texas, metal-work shops with gaily-painted roosters, and rusty oil derricks, many of them pumping away. Wisteria hung from roadside trees and the redbuds were in bloom, right alongside dilapidated houses with yards piled
with old cars and other assorted junk. Many businesses and homeowners displayed their pride in their state by flying the Texas flag or sporting a Texas star on a wall. We passed a sign for a washateria, a word Ethyl hasn't seen in years, and one that said, "Jesus welcomes you to Hawkins." When I spotted a sign in Gladewater pointing to an antique district, Ethyl had to hold onto the steering wheel to keep me from making a detour.

We were bound for Mineola, where she wanted to visit a quilt shop called Stitchin' Heaven. She had joined its block-of-the-month club after discovering the shop on the internet, and wanted to see it in person. As soon as she opened the front door, a friendly sales clerk welcomed her and offered to give her a tour. There were thousands of bolts of beautiful fabric, and just about that many quilt and runner kits and notions. Ethyl spent almost $200 there, most of it using a gift card, while I managed to get away for $12. I bought a pattern for a boot-shaped wine bottle tote and a magnetic book marker.

The most fascinating aspect of the store to me, however, was its beverage center. I wanted a cup of coffee, but a small sign said bottled water, soda and a glass of wine were available. Betcha can't guess what I had! Actually, I only had a few sips of the white zin, which came pre-packaged in a small plastic "glass," then capped it to save for dinner. After all, I was driving.

Here's to quilt shops!
We spent more than an hour in the quilt shop, then headed up U.S. 69 North toward Denison. I have two NFPW (media organization) buddies there that I had planned to visit. We managed to get as far as Emory before spotting a batch of windmills at the Potts Feed Store. They looked like a field of exotic flowers fluttering in the wind. They were pricey, ranging from $269 for the shortest to $500 for the largest. I could have gotten just the windmill section and hired my handyman to build the wooden tower, but wasn't sure where to get a pattern. However, I understand you can find windmills all over Texas, so I may get one before leaving the state.

Annette, Kay & Elaine
Once we hit the road again, we passed cows and horses grazing in pastures on ranches with names like The Double R, the CF, the WW Rock and Willow Creek. It was after 2 p.m. by the time we rolled into Denison, where my friend Kay Casey was waiting for us at CJ's Cafe. Even though Ethyl and Lucy had snacked a little bit, we were starved. Kay and I split a bacon and cheese panini, along with a huge piece of Chocolate Heath Bar Cake, which Kay kept insisting was a Health Bar Cake. That name assuaged her guilt.

Although we had hoped to reach Fort Worth by sundown, we decided there was so much to see in Denison that we'd spend the night there and do some moseying around town on Tuesday. We had a mechanical problem to solve first, however. My air conditioner wasn't blowing cool air, so I asked Kay to help me find a reputable mechanic. We wound up at A-A Tire & Auto Sales, where Tony Owens replenished my freon for a fair price and had me on my way in less than half an hour. We went to the Denison Dam to watch the sun set over Texoma Lake, and ventured on into Oklahoma across the dam just because we could. It was Ethyl's first time in the Sooner State.

Tuesday we hope my other NFPW buddy from Denison, Donna Hunt, will join us for lunch. We also plan to see a railroad museum, Dwight D. Eisenhower's birthplace and you'll never guess what else -- another quilt shop.

(Note: I may be switching to WordPress if I keep having trouble posting pictures with this blog on my iPad!!)

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