Monday 19th Oct – Dallas Forth Worth to Amarillo – 347 miles

Apologies but driving road trips are not as conducive to writing blog updates or taking photos as train journeys. Especially when I chose to drive 1368 miles around Texas in three days and two nights off the back of a 25 hour flight.

I arrived into DFW International airport a little late, not a great airport when compared to Dubai and Singapore. Getting past the very suspicious immigration officer with only a few minutes of questions. After finding out I recruited for medical people, he told me I should have gone to Mexico to recruit medical people. I explained this wasn’t a business trip but he didn’t seem to believe me and helpfully reeled off a few local medical schools for me to go and find people at anyway.

There wasn’t any where to buy sim cards in the airport or the car hire centre which was a few miles out from the terminal. With no internet the tomtom system on my phone wouldn’t work. This made for a slightly terrifying first experience of driving on the wrong side of the road, while sat on the wrong side of the car, in an unfamiliar automatic civilian sized tank, all while feeling quite jet lagged while desperately looking for road signs for route 114.

However I was glad I chose to hire the mid-sized SUV, GMC Arcadia. This 8 seated monstrosity would be considered huge in the UK or Singapore. Here though it really is just averaged sized and often dwarfed by other SUV’s and pickups.

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Once I had found my way on to the route 114 more by luck than judgement, things calmed down as this road took me straight up to Amarillo. A place I chose to visit purely on the strength of a Peter Kay cover song. The 114 and 287 would take me through small town America. The two lane highway regularly slowed down as I passed through towns called Decatur, Bowie, Electra, Goodnight and Chillicothe.

As I drove along the scenery which started quite yellow and dusty near Dallas turned greener. The scenery was dominated by large farms in the second half of the days drive. All along the road was one closed business after another, some long abandoned now covered in weeds and others looked like they had finally given up the struggle last week.

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The other main points of interest along the road was a massive amount of blown out tires scattered along the hard shoulder. Really not an interesting point, but the sheer scale of rubber debris gave me something to think about. The road was often flanked by a railway line, with train engines pulling along about a miles worth of freight.

Football (the American sort) is obviously massively important to small town Texas, no matter how run down the town looked there always seemed to be a decent sized stadium immaculately maintained on the edge of the town for the High school team to play on a Friday night. The pressure on these 16-18 years boys must be huge as wholes towns expect a win, with multiple signs throughout the towns saying go Indians, Cyclones, Pecans . . .

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Huge billboards broke up my drive, offering religious advice especially about abortion, places to stay or eat, where to buy boots or ammo. There was a particular restaurant called the Big Texan based in Amarillo that offered a free 72 ounce steak to drivers every couple of miles from about 200 hundred miles away.

I was very happy to find my motel relatively easily in the early evening and promptly dozed off before waking hungry and finding most places in the nearby vicinity closed as it was either too late (9pm) or because it was a monday. I found a sports bar that was open, watched some NFL and a couple of beers with some nachos at the bar. While I was there I heard repeated orders for pickle juice and in the end asked the bar staff what it was, it is what it sounds like. So I tried one. I will not have another pickle juice.

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