Texas – halfway!

We spent a lovely 36 hours or so in Dallas – got to see a dozen or so Barkers, four generations, and two of Ben’s great friends, as well as engaging inour very first and only so far just-for-fun activity (like tourists do).

Once again, knock on wood, the drive into Dallas was easy as pie. Some of my old nervousness came back in the downtown traffic-y area, but no problems, and I didn’t scream once. There is a ton of construction around Ben’s neighborhood, University Park near SMU. But Ben’s mom Jane was there waiting for us,

Janearmed with the keycard to the gate of a large, not much used parking lot 1/2 block from her house (all within one block of where Ben grew up). Jane ushered us in with air traffic controller like precision, and big hugs all around. Two of his sisters, Susan and Jeanne, live in the neighborhood, and sister Leslie and brother Allan are only a few miles away.

Some of the crew gathered for dinner at an old family favorite – El Fenix downtown; Enchilada Dinner night at this old school place has been on Wednesdays for about as long as anyone can remember (Allan rarely misses a week). Ben’s dad’s office at KRLD was right around the corner back in the 60s and El Fenix was (and probably still is) a favorite with the reporters.  Ben and his siblings have vivid El Fenixmemories of, as kids, being nudged up to the homemade tortilla station, dollar in hand, to give Maria a tip.

After a wonderful night’s sleep, our day without driving dawned. Spring in Dallas is made awesomer by the fact that it is not summer in Dallas which is H-O-T hot. We spent the morning getting Jane up to speed on all the apps and bookmarks she needed to follow our journey, while not messing with her existing and beloved USA Today crossword and classical radio apps. In the afternoon, and what was really our first tourist-like activity on the journey so far, we went to the Meadows museum at SMU. The Meadows is a private museum, funded by an art lover and oilman philanthropist, who in the 50s went looking for oil in Spain (didn’t find much there), but stayed right across from the Prado museum, and fell in love with Spanish art. The museum is just the right size (not too big) and had some fabulous exhibits, including a painting on loan from the Louvre, they proudly told us at the front desk.Barker women

Post-museum, Ben’s friends James and King came over after work (what’s that?) and drank a few beers while checking out the Airstream. Dinner was a pizza and salad feast at sister Jeanne’s which included arugula and sorrel from niece Laura’s garden. It was great-niece Emmy’s 1st bday (big party was previous weekend) so that was really cool too. The Barker women don’t age, so Emmy, you got good genes, girl!

We did some more touring of the Airstream after, and nephew-in-law Eli, who is an engineer, crawled under the trailer in the dark parking lot, spouting truth about the genius design, craftsmanship and artistry that is Airstream, a la Walt Whitman. The man went on and on about the door hinge. We loved it!

TacosToday, we made our way to Canyon, TX where we’ll hike in – you guessed it, canyons. Lunch on the way was real (and real good) Mexican tacos from a gas station. Some fellas at the Tire Lube helped us get ship shape with our PSI. We made a point to listen to Nanci Griffith – west Texas songstress – along the way, while Google helped us learn about the Comanche, cattle drives, wind farms, and more railroads.

We promise we really care about history and will dig in for real when we have the time…like tomorrow!


We leave you with one final trailer beauty shot from a stop in Chillicothe.
The Airstream pairs well with Texas!

The Road Back to Maryland

Yesterday in Plattsburgh, NY, we picked up the Airstream at Colin Hyde Trailer Restoration, where it spent a pleasant winter and early spring (though it’s still winter in Plattsburgh, brr). Colin has expanded his shop – it’s huge – there were at least 15 trailers inside, as many outside, and a newly acquired forklift. We spent about 3 1/2 hours there, reviewing all that had been done, admiring the work, chatting with and watching the crew. IMG_7565

Sam (at left in the pic, looking up full-timing websites for us), who works in the shop, but lives in his Airstream and has travelled the country, gave us a few tips, philosophical and practical for life on the road: if you don’t like the guy next to you, you can leave; if your trailer is polished, it might look nice, but you won’t meet as many people–they’ll be too intimidated to approach. Also: picking up some part time work is a great way to get out of tourist mode; it’s impossible to hate any job you’re gonna have for only two weeks. The RV world may seem weird from the outside, but once you are in it, it’s normal.IMG_7581

We made it home by 11:30pm, safe and sound, after a delicious lunch in Lewis, NY at the Lewis Family Cafe which is a part of the Betty Beaver truck stop. Our waitress told us Betty was an early pioneer for women in the trucking industry. Don’t know about the beaver.

Driving through NY was a bit harrowing, though the horn was honked once, in Paramus, NJ. Thanks to the gang behind the Serial podcasts for making the time go by quickly.

The Road to Plattsburgh

We drove from Maryland to Plattsburgh today – a drive roughly 1/2 of which is through the boring old Northeast corridor, and the other 1/2 through lovely Hudson River Valley, Catskills, and Adirondacks. We wanted to stop along the Hudson River for lunch, and chose Newburgh because it was an easy turn off and hosts a cool historic site – Washington’s Continental Army Headquarters from 1782-83. We stumbled upon Tony’s Newburgh Lunch and had hit-the-spot grilled sandwiches. The waitress, who was sNewburgho nice, recommended a side of hot dogs, but we passed. She said the diner, in a different location and under the name Texas Weiners, was started by Tony’s father in the 1930’s. A survivor.

Speaking of which, tip of the hat to Ben who has done this very drive now 3x in the past few months, twice on his own. This leg, he once again drove each one of the 540 miles himself, and I sat in the passenger seat trying not to create trouble. Airstream reunion tomorrow!