Wednesday, April 22, 2015

On the Road: Huntsville State Park to Lake Brownwood State Park

We got up early Thursday, April 9, for the long drive to Lake Brownwood State Park. We were looking forward to leaving the mosquitoes and humidity of southeast Texas behind for the drier climate we have become accustomed to over the years.

Because of the bad roads and heavy traffic on the trip to Huntsville a few days before (see "On the Road: Hords Creek Lake to Huntsville State Park"), we decided to try an alternate return route. For the first leg of our journey, though, we retraced our previous route up I-45 to Centerville. We stopped briefly at Buc-ee's in Madisonville for drinks and snacks, then continued up I-45. Instead of exiting at Centerville and returning the way we came, though, we continued on I-45 north through Buffalo to the small community of Dew, where we exited and headed west for about 10 miles on Highway 179 to Teague. This area is very familiar to me for I grew up in this county; in fact, I was born in Teague. I was happy with the smooth surface of 179.

Huntsville State Park to Lake Brownwood State Park, a journey of 291 miles.
At Teague, we got on US 84, which we would stay on all the way to Brownwood. This was a great improvement over Texas 7 on our trip down. The surface was smooth and the shoulders were generous. Although we had no passing lanes until we neared Gatesville, it was easy to move onto the shoulder to let cars pass. We stopped briefly on the eastern edge of Mexia at Walmart and did some grocery shopping. I was also able to manuever my rig into the Murphy Gas station at Walmart. At many Walmarts, there just isn't enough room for doing this; I admit it was a bit of a tight fit, but I really had no difficulty, even though a larger truck was taking up some room. In Mexia proper, there is also an H.E.B. with gas pumps that are easy to get into, and the price is the same.

At Waco, I just drove straight through on US 84 rather than take Loop 340 or I-35. 84 is the most direct route, and this directness makes up for the traffic lights I had to endure. I enjoyed 4 lanes all the way from about 10 miles east of Waco -- where Texas 31 merges with US 84 -- until McGregor, about 15 miles west of Waco. From McGregor, the road to Gatesville is easy, with several passing lanes which eventually become 4 lanes a few miles east of Gatesville. There are a couple of nice roadside parks between McGregor and Gatesville, but they are on the south side of the highway, and there are no signs for west bound traffic indicating them until you are right on them. We opted to stop at a nice roadside park on the west side of Gatesville, just a few miles east of Evant.

I've documented the trip from Gatesville to Brownwood in other "On the Road" entries, so I'll not repeat this section of the trip here. This was a much improved route over the one we followed when we were going to Huntsville, so I will probably opt for this route in the future. The surface is good, passing lanes are available in many places, and shoulders are smooth and generous. There are numerous places to stop for gas that have easy access for RVs. I found the level of traffic to be much less than the Texas 7 route.

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