Fort Worth to Odessa

Did you know that between Fort Worth and Odessa, there’s not a lot to grab your attention? We are in Odessa tonight, on our way to see Drake in Fort Stockton and we have spent hours on Interstate 20. I guess when you are traveling on an interstate highway, you are taking that route because you want to get where you are going quickly. You are not typically driving for the view but it’s nice when you have one. The further we drove from Fort Worth, the less there was to watch on the side of the road. Here are some of the highlights.

Have you ever been to Thurber, Texas? Yeah, that one was not high on my list either but as we neared the town, we saw this one lone brick tower, 168 feet tall. What is that??? No building was attached to it. My first thought was a shot tower, like the one we saw in Baltimore. You drop hot molten lead from the top and, as it falls, it makes a round ball before landing in water, which cools it down. That ball was used as ammunition, long before mass production was introduced. Nope, that wasn’t it, but it made me look up Thurber while Ed was driving. Man, do I love Ed’s iPad!

Thurber, at one time, had a population of 10,000, with about 20 different nationalities. It was a coal town. It was the largest town between Fort Worth and El Paso but when the trains switched to oil, the town died. The population today is 5. Yes, 5 people live there; one family has owned the town since the 1960’s. Their big tourist attraction is a restaurant, Smokestack Restaurant, and the single smokestack from the town’s electrical power plant built in 1909. I’ve decided that, on the way home Sunday, we have to stop there for dinner.

Between Roscoe and Loraine, just west of Sweetwater, I think every farmer rented out the farm land to a windmill company. I have never seen so many windmills for so many miles! It was quite amazing. I took the wheel in Sweetwater and that’s when I really started paying attention to the landscape. When windmills are all you can see for miles around the interstate, your mind starts going in strange directions. Such as, what happens if the wind comes from the back side, does the windmills start going backwards? If that happens, does the electricity they have generated previously dissipate? Or does it not matter what direction the windmill turns? Or does it lock so it can’t go backwards?

The windmills seemed to be moving so slowly! Now, I have seen trucks transporting those blades and they are huge so I know they only appear to be moving slowly but still. Does the windmill actually generate enough electricity to transport the electricity it generated all the way to a holding station and then on to some electrical grid? Yep, that’s what happens when I’m bored. Now I have to look up the new windmills so that I can find out how they work. The problem is that the answers won’t be half as interesting as the questions in my mind while I was bored!

We stopped in Sweetwater to change drivers and to get a bite to eat. I usually like finding local places, if I can, so that I can see what the local food tastes like. But we were driving in Texas, not far from home, so how different could local home style cooking be, right? I really would’ve been satisfied with fast food, knowing that we could eat a good meal in Odessa but Ed pointed out a little place on the service road and he pulled in. That was a great move on his part!

If you ever get to Sweetwater and just want some good ol’ home cooking, with good ingredients, stop at Buck’s Steaks & Bar-B-Que. This was food like my grandmother Georgia Belle used to make. No cheap, grisly meat for their Chicken Fried Steak! Fresh, BIG green beans. A baked sweet potato, served with butter and cinnamon-sugar in a salt shaker. Mmmmmm. The atmosphere is one of a 1950’s diner, except for the buffet setup for the bar-b-que, with old pictures and newspaper articles, framed, hanging on the walls, and a waiter that actually thought about his answer before responding to my question of “So what do you suggest? What looks good today?”

Tomorrow, we head on to Fort Stockton, spend a few hours with Drake, and then head back to Odessa for the night. A quick trip, to say the least, but we wanted to see him for Thanksgiving and the weekend was the only option. Maybe getting off of the interstate will prove a more interesting drive. I’ll let you know tomorrow.


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