Wednesday, July 6, 2011

New Article: Big Country Road Trip Review

Hi everyone,

This is my first road trip review. This is another new thing I am incorporating into this blog.

This is my review/recap/etc. of my recent Big Country Road Trip on July 1-3.

First of all, I had no idea they called this area (Sweetwater, Abilene, etc.) the Big Country. Even though Abilene is only 3 hours away, this was my first visit to the Big Country. I had always known this area as the Panhandle Plains, but all the news stations, stores, people out there call it the "Big Country". Based on my research, the Big Country seems to strecth out as far as San Angelo and Lubbock, Sweetwater is approximatley in the center (I could be horrifcly wrong, this is knda a guess). Anyway, I see why they call it the big country. It is BIG. Very spread out. When I was driving in the Ft. Phantom area, looking up at the endless blue sky, it really made me realize just how huge this state really is. Populatin wise, Abilene is no bigger than the DFW metro city of Irving. Yet Abilene rivals Dallas in terms of land. And it's not all urban. It's hard to believe you're in a city of 100,000 people in some parts on the north and south sides of town. Anyway, that's just a little taste of the Big Country expirience. Now here is my recap/review thing.

Day 1: July 1, 2011

Left Coppell at about 10:00 a.m. First stop of the day was in the county seat of Eastland County, Eastland. Took a few pictures in downtown, and started my final hour of the 3 hour journey through the hills that line I-20. I usually HATE interstates, but I-20 west really impressed me. At one point I was so high up my ears were popping. The hills were beautiful. I was surprised when I entered Abilene, because I had just through some beautiful cliffs, and I didn't expect the thing I saw once I was out from in between them to downtown Abilene. My first impression of Abilene was, pretty cool, old. It very much reminded me of a mini Birmingham. I decided to start the trip by walking around downtown and taking some pictures. I parked at the old T&P station and my journey began.

There are certain angles things that really capture my attention and make me think, man that would be a GREAT picture! I had already seen a few at the depot. First off, the clouds the whole weekend really helped certain pictures stand out, they really helped me so, Thank you clouds! The first cool building that captured my attention was the old Grace Hotel building (now a muesuem) across from the station. It had one of the coolest signs i've ever seen, and the clouds were on my side when came to photographing this wonderful old building. I continued my trek around downtown, stopping here and there for pictures. Then came the Paramount Theatre.

I had been really excited at the oppourtunity to go inside this grand old theatre, but little did I know that this would turn out to be one of the most paranormaly active places I had ever been. Right when I walked in, I had a feeling that I wasn't the only one in there. In my very first picture I got 2 orbs, and from there on, almost every picture I took had some orbs or some other weird thing in it. At one point I had to press the power button on my camera 6 times for it to turn on! Another odd thing, my friend was taking pictures with a 5 megapixel Iphone, and I was using a 14 meagpixel camera, yet his inside shots were much clearer and had no orbs. Mine on the other hand, took very dark pictures and had many orbs and hard to explain things. That would be the first place on what turned out to be my biggest paranormal trip ever.

After that, I was ready to check out some more places, so I decided to drive 45 minutes to the west to the "Wind Energy Capital of The World", Sweetwater, Texas. Driving into Sweetwater the first thing that intrigued me was the abandoned Palmino Motel, which had a really cool old sign. I walked around downtown Sweetwater, it's streets lined with old buildings, the courthouse tying everything into place. After downtown, I decided to venture to the west side of town where I found the second abandoned drive-in theatre i'd seen in Sweetwater. It made for another good photo. I made one last stop in Sweetwater, and that would be historic Avenger Field. I got a few pictures there and then headed back to Abilene to check in at the Holiday Inn (my favorite and just about the only place I will stay on my trips). After checking in I had dinner at a downtown restaurant called "Cypress Street Station". It's in an old building built in 1919. My food was very good, i'd give it a solid A. My top three travel restaurants: 1. Hondo's Fredericksburg, Texas. Best restaurant EVER. 2. County Seat Lampasas, Texas. 3. Cypress Street Station Abilene, Texas. Well, that concludes night 1. Now onto day 2...

Day 2:

My first stop on my second day was Anson, Texas. County seat of Jones County, 24 miles north of Abilene. The main reason I came here was to take some courthouse pictures and see the dirt road where I was going to see the infamous"Anson Lights" later that night. After Anson, I went to a place that is said to be one of the most haunted places in Texas, Fort Phantom Hill. In fact, the soldiers who now haunt this place named it Phantom Hill because they saw phantoms during the night! This may have been the highlight of the trip. What a cool old fort, it was just amazing. You could almost feel the ghosts. In some spots it would be horribly hot (it was 100 degrees), and in tohers it would feel very cool. At the old Hospital ruins, I asked for the spirits to make a sign, to throw a rock. About 2 mintues later as I was in the middle of taking a picture, I heard a rock hit the chimney behind me. And it was very cool int this spot. After a few panoramics I headed out to Bufflo Gap. But this wouldn't be my only visit to the fort.

Buffalo Gap was heavily traveled by indians and white settlers in the 1800's, becuase it's in a natural pass in between two mountains. And man is it pretty. You have to beautiful hills to your right and left, so it's basically like seeing the hill country everywhere you look. Buffalo Gap historic village was another highlight. The old village was filled with original buildings from Buffalo Gap, including the old courthouse, train depot, and gas station (my favorite building). After Buffalo Gap, I continued my journey to Abilene State Park.

After taking a few pictures at the state park, I was ready to get back to the hotel and prepare for the paranormal night ahead. I left the hotel at about 9:00 and made a stop at Ft. Phantom Hill again at about 10:00 p.m. I took about 15 pictures. Almost all of them had orbs, and the final two by the powder magazine had a white mist. The weird thing is, my face detector came on in that spot. I'm getting chills just typing this. Anyway, after that I made my way to Anson to see the Anson Ghost Lights.

As I got out of the city part of Anson and into the pitch black country, I started to get that butterfly feeling in my stomach, knowing that I was about to (hopefully) witness one of the most well-known ghost stories in Texas! As I was driving down the pitch black dirt road to the intersection where I would turn around, I could already see sometime type of light in rearviewmirror thorugh the dust. I turned my truck around, flashed the head lights 3 times, and there it was. I don't know how to explain it, it was amazing, that's for sure. At first I thought it was a car headlight, but then it started changing colors and even came towards the truck. To me it resembled a lantern, which is what it is said to be. After about 10 minutes I drove down the dirt road back onto highway 180. But I wasn't quite ready to leave. I went down the road again and this time it was even brighter than the street light next to us, and it came very close! I thought this would be the creepiest part of the night, but I wrong. I wasn't scared of the light at all, in fact I was hoping it would come further towards the truck. However, About an hour earlier at Ft. Phantom Hill, that was creepy. I knew I would have to make one last stop there the following day before I came home.

Day 3
This was driving back day. However, I found a lot more delays in my drive than I expected. That's a good thing by the way. First I made one final stop at Ft. Phantom Hill. I didn't go inside, I just sat in the truck for a few minutes, and waited. Right when I pulled in, my CD played strated blasting a cd that i hadn't played for months! First, nobody turned on the radio. Ande second, it should have started where my STP cd I was listening to left off, but instead it started a different cd! And it was loud too. After many expieriences here in just 3 visits, i'd say this place is very hanted. I drove back on 180 just to take a different route than I came. I stopped in the small town of Albany, and was pleasently surprised. This town reminded me of Llano, Texas. Nice well kept historic downtown, over all very clean, tourist friendly. I also learned that Ft. Griffin was only 10 miles north. So of course I headed up there to chck it out. Not only did I see the historic old fort and a very scenic overlook, but the nice lady at the fort's hq told us where the original townsite is, and an ole 1885 bridge over the Brazos. Seeing that was the perfect way to end the trip.

Well, that rap's it up... until my next trip!

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