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Monday April 27th — Frontier Texas

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That’s us sitting on a giant metal skull at the Frontier Museum. Above us are Buffalo that pivot like weather vanes.

On Monday morning we awoke planning to reach Waco, but we got side tracked by an errant attempt to locate a Best Buy so Ann could buy a lens cap. I won’t go into the machinations of locating one, even when trying to use both of our ‘smart’ phones, or how we eventually (and accidentally) stumbled upon one and how we were so surprised that my wife did an all-too-quick u-turn in the street, dumping a rather sizable container of ice-cold water into my lap. No, you don’t want to hear all that! And, I’m really sure that after you read this sad tale, and after you learn what it took to get the lens cap, and when you understand just how wet my underwear and shorts were, you’ll acknowledge the personal sacrifice I made in the cause of the lens cap, and only then can you appreciate that three hours after we bought the lens cap I accidentally dropped it onto the ground — it broke, into several pieces … uggghh!!!

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Instead of that long, sad tale, I will give my impressions of Monday morning in Odessa. There were many men around our motel dressed in heavy one-piece work outfits. They all worked for energy companies with bland sounding names. All drove white trucks packed with tools in the back and with catchers on the front that could move an entire herd of cows. On Sunday evening they had all looked tired from a long day; most were gone by Monday morning, but not before eating up all the available breakfast that our motel served that morning. They did manage to save me a piece of sausage.

We were out of the motel room by 9am. As we drove through Odessa, my view was industrial buildings, piping equipment and oil rigs everywhere. The equipment suggested people here worked hard. My other impression was that land is cheap, or at least was cheap. All the endless industrial companies we passed on Monday morning on our way to nearby Midland seemed unconcerned with how they organized their stuff. Stacking didn’t seem to be a concern, as everything was horizontal. Space was cheap, stacking wasn’t necessary. Those were the thoughts that bounced around my head as we drove to the Petroleum Museum.

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Near the entrance to the Petroleum Museum.

We arrived at the Permian Basin Petroleum Museum just after it opened. When we entered the building we were told that the entire history portion of the museum was undergoing an $18 million dollar remodel. Obviously that wouldn’t do us any good, but they did have a few exhibits — gems, paintings, and race cars, that we could view. Since were were there, we wandered around and looked at those for a short time. However, I really wished we could have see the main oil history exhibit.

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Me pretending to drive one of the race cars. I didn’t fit very well, especially not on the driver’s side! I hope they didn’t mind me removing the steering wheel . . . .

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The mineral exhibit was interesting, but shamefully I know very little about them (where are my ancestors when I need them??).

After wandering inside, we went outside to see their drill and pump exhibit (I can’t say these are the right terms, because there wasn’t much to guide us). We enjoyed the outside exhibits, partly because the rigs were painted different colors. It was kind of a carnival atmosphere. Apparently, nearly all the outside exhibit equipment were functional, too.

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The bright colors helped distinguish the machinery. That was a good idea.

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All the strung rigging made it feel like a carnival!

After the Petroleum museum, we drove to the small town of Snyder. There we found a triangle shaped Sinclair gas station dating back at least to the 1950s, if not earlier. Little is known about the history of the gas station online. However, while we were taking a pictures a woman came by and told us some history. She’d first used the station in the 1950s. Over the years owners came and went, but the station was always kept in good shape. The current owner has restored it and gathered old gas station memorabilia and put it inside and outside the station. The woman sharing her story was very pleased to tell us that the station had never been vandalized. There are things outside the station that could easily be taken, but for some reason no one has.

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The woman also told us to go look at the buffalo statue near the town square. So we did. The statue commemorates the shooting of an extremely rare white buffalo (only seven have been recorded ever shot). The man who shot the buffalo was J. Wright Moore, became a very successful buffalo hunter, killing around 22,000. It’s no wonder the buffalo were so quickly decimated.

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While in Snyder, I stumbled upon something called Frontier Texas. It was the number one favorite thing to do in Abilene (according to TripAdvisor), so I told Ann we were going to go to Abilene. When we arrived at the museum, there were no cars out front. We thought it was closed. But, we ventured inside. In fact, it was opened and we had the place almost to ourselves.

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The outside grounds were beautiful. Signs guided us to the entrance.

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This grand hall welcomes visitors.

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The interior of the museum wound and cut back like a river, making the experience more interesting.

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In the foreground is a wagon and some boxes. While it looks like a man in the background, it is actually a video projection hologram. The effect was excellent as the story tell spun his tale. To the lower right you see a video screen that is used to select different narrations. These type of exhibits were shown throughout the museum. It’s one of the best uses of interactive video I’ve seen in a museum.

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This was fun :-)

Frontier Texas is a museum dedicated to telling the intersecting stories of war and treasure seeking by all the different races in central Texas. Ann and I both enjoyed the way they told the stories, the meandering natured of the exhibits and their use of video (some clever interactive videos). The final ‘presentation’ is a 360 degree theatre (with spinning seats) that tell Texas stories. If you are ever in Abilene, I’d say give it a try.

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In downtown Abilene we spotted this dinosaur sniffing(?) a VW that sat atop a building. Why? who knows.

Rather than try to make it to Waco Monday tonight, we decided to stay in Abilene. On Tuesday morning we plan to drive to Buffalo Gap and see its western town, then we’ll be heading to Waco for the Dr. Pepper Museum and Dog museum.

(Want to see more of the 2015 Texas Trip? View the posts from the beginning)

 

13 Comments on “Monday April 27th — Frontier Texas

  1. Idaho Todd

    That’s a busy day. Bummer about your new lens cap. How many cup holders in your jeep, iceman? Haha. 22k buffalo? That’s a lot of jerky. That vw up there is weird. I can’t wait for the Dr. Pepper tour, it’s delicious and my favorite soda.

  2. Joe in Mesa

    22,000 in 9 years (1870-1879) sounds a bit like Wilt Chamberlain’s 20,000 woman claim ;-).
    That’s more than 6.6 buffalo a day (hunting 7 days a week). He must have had a team to help skin them all.

  3. Ann

    Yes, finding yet another replacement cap is imperative. Maybe we’ll get a couple this next time. We did find 2 closed camera stores with my phone and another Best Buy, but it didn’t have the correct size. And Todd, I’m a DR Pepper girl too!!!! I’m looking forward to it as well.

  4. Idaho Todd

    Oooo! Ann and Dave commenting at the same time. It’s like ewillys in stereo! And I’m not a fast typer. Wouldn’t you like to be a pepper too? Couldn’t resist…

  5. SE Pennsylvania Steve

    Travel may broaden the mind but it doesn’t sound like it’s good for lens caps.
    If Bubba were with you he would say just put a baggie with a rubber band over the camera lens until you get home.

  6. Mom

    They would probably have to find a store that sells plastic bags and rubber bands. That would be up my alley. Waco is the home town of one of my favorite TV series on HGTV, Fixer Upper. Maybe you can take a tour of the homes this cute couple have restored or remodeled. 😉

  7. slowfun

    Great to see a slow speed Willys guy sitting in one of the fastest road race cars of all time. Jim Hall in Midland Texas was a brilliant engineer who did lots of secret “skunkworks” development for Chevrolet/GM. That Chaparral Can-Am car was the epitome of his work.

  8. mmdeilers Post author

    Slowfun: Well, Jim Hall couldn’t have been too smart. He didn’t build the car tall enough for me!! The Chaparral portion of the museum was most interesting and had some nice hands on examples of how the Hall team employed aerodynamics to suck the cars onto the track.

    Steve & Mom: I’m smart enough not to suggest the rubber band/plastic bag to my wife.

    Mom: I didn’t see any cameras, but had we seen any it would have been like bees to honey. We would have told them you sent us to check up on them.

  9. peter56

    Where we used to live in southern Alberta Canada there was a site you could visit near the foothills called Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump. The natives back then would surround a herd of Buffalo up on the plateau and they would run off the cliff to there death. Fairly simple and effective.

  10. mmdeilers Post author

    Nick: I’d like to give credit to the power of eWillys for allowing my time in the Chaparral. But it turns out they let just about anyone who can fit slide into the seats 🙂

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