It was the kind of day that comes around far too seldom. In fact, it was an alternative route that brought such delight as a constant rain fell from the north Texas sky.
As in Robert Frost’s classic poem, “The Road Not Taken”, I decided to drive home along the road less traveled, and just as Frost had poetically suggested, it really did make all the difference.
In the roundabout route I took Highway 377 outside of Fort Worth and traveled south passing through one small town after another. For the longest time the blinding mist from fast moving 18-wheelers in the opposite lane flew up from the road making it difficult to see what was ahead.
I had never driven this stretch of road and therefore had no idea what to expect, but that was the fun it all. I never knew that Stephenville was home to the Cross Timbers Country Opry where for just $8.00 you could be entertained every Saturday night by the Country Express and other real Texas performers. They’ve been at it since 1979.
Then there was the town of Hico. There were two signs at the city limit welcoming visitors to this busy little community along Highway 6 west of Waco. The first sign read, “Welcome to Hico. Where Everybody is Somebody.” I think that’s a similar slogan to the one used by Luckenbach, but what the heck?
The other welcome sign proudly announced, “Hico, home of Billy the Kid”. Luckenbach may have Waylon, Willie and the boys, but it doesn’t have Billy the Kid.
There was even a big sign inviting me to visit the Bill the Kid museum and gift shop. I never found the museum, but the life sized statue of Billy in a shooting stance with gun drawn was prrree-ty impressive.
The highlight of the road trip was the two hours that I spend in Dublin, Texas, population 3,000. For 120-years Dublin has bottled the famous Dublin Dr Pepper – the only Dr Pepper still made using Imperial Pure Cane Sugar. When bottlers around the world were switching to corn syrup and other sweeteners, the little plant in Dublin kept turning out bottles of my favorite soft drink the old fashioned way.
The 30-minute tour of the old bottling plant and museum was a serious trip back in time. As the rain continued to pour outside, the sweet, fruity Dr Pepper continued to pour inside. Next door in Old Doc’s Soda Shop I sat at one of the small, wire-framed retro tables across from the soda fountain that had been painted lime green to match the wood interior of this classic old stone building.
Dr Pepper memorabilia and gift items hung from the walls. I ordered a PB&J sandwich and chips and washed it down with a couple of ice cold DPs. For dessert I sampled a few Dr Pepper flavored Jelly Bellys. It was too good.
Being the Dr Pepper fan that I am, I grabbed a couple of cases of the original formula in the bottle (no cans . . . it changes the taste they say) to share with the uninitiated back home the next day.
“I shall be telling this with a sigh, somewhere ages and ages hence. Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” . . . you got that right Mr. Frost.