Saturday, March 17, 2012

Route 90

From Big Bend, we had two days to make it to Houston. Our original plan was to spend a night in Austin, but hotels were fully booked for the South by Southwest music festival, and I didn't want to impose five guys on any of my friends at UT. So we switched our one-night destination to San Antonio, which ended up being a great decision.

We headed north out of the park until we reached Marathon, TX, where we stopped to check out the historic Gage Hotel before having lunch.

Shops down the street

We then faced a choice—there are two primary routes out of the Big Bend region back east towards civilization: Interstate 10 and U.S. Route 90. Thanks to what a friendly gentleman on our flight to Midland had told us about the landscape, we decided to take the slightly longer route along Route 90, which runs closer to the Mexican border.

Option 1
Option 2

Dear reader, if you ever find yourself driving east out of West Texas, definitely choose Route 90. Much of the landscape appeared to be an extension of the national park, and then as we continued east towards the Texas Hill Country, the rolling landscape became much more verdant before it flattened near Houston into the Gulf Coastal Plain.

On a different note, we were stopped by the U.S. Border Patrol at several points for routine ID checks. Turns out, West Texas patrol officers are not used to seeing SUVs full of college-aged guys, and especially not a Greek, a Turk, a Korean, a Mexican, and an American traveling together. All of the officers we spoke with during our checks were friendly, albeit somewhat confused about/fascinated by five guys from Yale in West Texas for spring break.

Late afternoon, we curved along Route 90 and suddenly saw an incredible vista open up before us. There had been great scenery along much of the drive back east, but this was certainly the most dramatic. We stopped the car at a small barbeque/rest area before the bridge and decided to open up some bottles of Lone Star for the sunset.

We read on a plaque that we were looking at the Pecos River High Bridge, which carries the Southern Pacific Railroad across the Pecos River gorge. When built in 1892, it had the distinction of being the highest bridge in the world. It was replaced by the current structure during World War II.

Photo credit: Alex

A few hours later, we made it to San Antonio, where we explored the Riverwalk area for a while before I introduced the gang to their first Whataburger. Instantly converted.

The next morning, we made an obligatory stop at the Alamo for a dose of Texas history before getting back in the car to head to Houston.

Remember the Alamo
Trip summary