The Dallas Trip — Part 2 — Tallahassee to Dallas

This is the second part of a two-part series.  The first part can be read here.

After a good night’s sleep at the Howard Johnson’s in Tallahassee, we took off at about 9:30 in the morning.

Near the City of Quincy, we topped off our gas, got coffee, and headed west on Interstate 10.

For many miles the scenery along remained much the same as before Tallahassee, rolling and mostly wooded.

40 miles west of Tallahassee, Interstate 10 crosses the Chattahoochee River and into the central time zone.

Interstate 10 near Chattahoochee.  By Michael Rivera (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Moving westward, Interstate 10 moves just south of the historic small towns of Marianna, DeFuniak Springs, and Crestview.

Caboose at former train depot in DeFuniak Springs.  By Staugbeachbum at English Wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Before coming into Pensacola, we crossed the Escambia Bay Bridge, which became known for its structural damage during Hurricane Ivan in 2004.  Storm surge dislodged numerous pieces of deck from the bridge.  The new, current bridge opened to traffic in 2007.

Storm-damaged Escambia Bay Bridge, with temporary bridge. By United States Department of Transportation – Federal Highway Administration [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Pensacola

Animated map of downtown Pensacola. By Matt Caserta, via Coastal Living.

The City of Pensacola is in the western Florida panhandle, not far from the Alabama border.  Pensacola is known as “The City of Five Flags,” as it has been ruled by five different nations in its history.

Pensacola was first settled in the year 1559.

A strong, longtime Navy town, Pensacola is the home to Naval Air Station Pensacola, known as the Cradle of Naval Aviation.

Pensacola Naval Air Station. By Kevin King from Pensacola, FL, US of A (Skydive Airshow, NAS Pensacola) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Entering the State of Alabama

Baldwin Welcome Center.

Not long after leaving Pensacola, we drove over the Alabama state line and into the Baldwin Welcome Center.

Just up the road is the City of Mobile.  The scenery was mostly flat along the Gulf coast area of Alabama.

Mobile

Downtown Mobile, via Pixabay

Before coming into Mobile, we crossed a long bridge covering Mobile Bay, some tributaries, and even an interchange with US Highway 98 completely over water.

After the long bridge and a short trip through the area of the Port of Mobile, we entered the George Wallace Tunnel.  After the half-mile of darkness, we emerged back into the light, and in the middle of downtown Mobile.

The City of Mobile is Alabama’s oldest, as well as Alabama’s 3rd most populated.  It was founded in 1702 by French colonists.

Vintage 1850s Mobile house. By Altairisfar (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
After a few more miles on Interstate 10, and a short jog north on Interstate 65, we exited on westbound US Highway 98 in the west side of Mobile.

Onward on US 98

We ended up on 98 in an industrial part of the city, the roads being of poor quality.

Eventually we left Mobile and its surrounding communities and ended up in the countryside.  The landscape was somewhat like northern Florida with its rolling hills and pine trees.

Semmes

Statue of town namesake Admiral Raphael Semmes. By Buberl, Caspar, 1834-1899, sculptor. (Basil) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Just 15 miles northwest of Mobile is the city of Semmes.  Long an unincorporated community in Mobile County, it became an incorporated city in 2010.

The Rest of Alabama

The remaining 12 miles of Alabama is a very rural stretch with monotonous scenery.

The town of Wilmer was the only area of civilization for the rest of Alabama.

The state line between Alabama and the next state, Mississippi, is at the crossing of the Escatawpa River.

Mississippi

US Highway 98 continues a rural feel with very little in the way of business or residential.  The road appeared to be fairly recently built, avoiding most towns by a mile or two, and limited access overpasses and ramps at major roads.

The first city along this route is Lucedale, which sits almost two miles to the south of Highway 98.

Before reaching the outskirts of the towns of McLain and Beaumont, Highway 98 crosses the Leaf and Chickasawhay rivers.

The first town in Mississippi that Highway 98 passes directly through is New Augusta.

Soon after New Augusta is a large interchange with US Highway 49.

Just a few miles north of the interchange we began to enter the city of Hattiesburg.

Hattiesburg, aka H-Burg

By Woodlot (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Hattiesburg is was founded in 1882 by engineer William Hardy, and named after his wife, Hattie.  It is the home to the University of Southern Mississippi with a student enrollment of nearly 18,000.

Aubrey K. Lucas Administration Building at University of Southern Mississippi. By Dudemanfellabra (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons
Historic Saenger Theatre.  By Dudemanfellabra (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

Back Along The Road

Leaving Hattiesburg, the landscape becomes more of typical southern Mississippi.

A few small towns, such as Seminary, Collins, Mount Oilve, Magee, and Mendenhall sit just off Highway 49.  Old Highway 49 is marked on maps as going through the center of most of these towns.

Due to a lack of interstate highways in the area, US Highways were simply streamlined around towns for the benefit of truck drivers.

Florence is a slightly larger town of about 4,000 people, and hosts a series of gas stations and restaurants right on Highway 49.

Additionally, Richland is a town just seven miles to the north, with more amenities.

Jackson

Mississippi State Capital in Jackson. By Ken Lund via Flickr.  [CC BY-SA 2.0]
Jackson is the state capital of Mississippi, and the spot where we accessed Interstate 20 which would take us most of the way to Dallas.

With a population of about 170,000, Jackson is Mississippi’s largest city.  The namesake of the city is Andrew Jackson, the 7th President of the United States.

Vintage Amtrak Station in Jackson. By Augiejv (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
We arrived in Jackson right in time for rush hour traffic and it was very slow going through the mile-and-a-half concurrence of Interstate 20 and Interstate 55, which goes over the Pearl River.

The Rest of Mississippi and The Mighty Mississippi

Interstate 20 was a pretty uneventful drive leaving Jackson and for the next 50 miles to Vicksburg.

After Vicksburg we crossed the muddy waters of the Mighty Mississippi River

The Mississippi River near Vicksburg. By Shawn Lea from Jackson, MS, US (Flickr.com – image description page) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Louisiana

Louisiana was the land of nothingness throughout the entire delta region of the state.  Miles and miles of endless low-lying crops.  Despite the boring scenery, the nutrient-rich soil produces a number of crops such as corn and sugarcane.

Interstate 20 passes just to the south of the towns of Tallulah and Delhi.

Ready for dinner and with daylight starting to get short, we stopped at a Sonic Drive-In in Delhi.  There was only one way in and one way out, which made usage of the drive-thru interesting to say the least.

Monroe

First Baptist Church in Monroe. Billy Hathorn at en.wikipedia [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons
The first fairly good-sized town we drove through was Monroe.

It was Friday night, and practically every station on the radio broadcast high school football.

Monroe is the home of University of Louisiana-Monroe and was named for James Monroe, the fifth President of the United States.

Shreveport and Bossier City

Downtown Shreveport at night. By Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
When driving through Shreveport, we were met with a ton of bright lights, casinos, and other attractions.  I’d never realized that Shreveport is a pretty significant casino town.  Harrah’s is Shreveport’s tenth largest employer with over 1,800 employees including a casino and a horse track in Bossier City, just across the Red River.

Downtown Bossier City and the boardwalk. By ShreveNewsMan at English Wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Shreveport is Louisiana’s third largest city, with a population of nearly 195,000 people.

With Shreveport being in the northwestern corner of Louisiana, it wasn’t long before crossing into Texas.

Texas

Texas state flag.  By PublicDomainPictures, [CC0-1.0]
The final state along the journey to Dallas was the State of Texas.

The scenery in Texas became more open with fewer trees, but with plenty of rolling hills.

Marshall, Longview, and Tyler were the first three towns that were near Interstate 20.  There’s not a lot to see other than the usual fast food places, gas stations, and motels.  The interstate passes 5-7 miles either south or north of the town centers.

Skyline of Tyler, Texas.
See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
We started to near the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex at the city of Terrell.

It was also our first time visiting a Buc-ee’s store!  Think of Buc-ee’s as a travel stop where you can get just about anything, can get a fantastic brisket sandwich, and use an ultra clean restroom.

Buc-ee’s in Terrell, TX.  By Jameywiki (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Coming into Dallas–And a Detour

Our route was to originally come through downtown Dallas into the suburb of Irving where we’d be staying for the next few nights.

We ended up on Interstate 635, following the advice of Google Maps.  This was due to an accident somewhere near downtown Dallas which would have taken more time to sit in than to just drive around.

I was just following the GPS somewhat blindly until I realized we were in the Galleria area of north Dallas.  I knew then we were in the suburbs and that we’d not be going through downtown Dallas.

High Five Interchange in Dallas, near Galleria. By DFW Freeways

Oh well.  We’d been on the road for 14 hours, and all I wanted to go was get to the hotel.  The quicker, the merrier. We eventually arrived at our hotel, a (Days Inn) near Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport in Irving.

How about the room?

First of all, the clerk had charged the card we put on file about 15 minutes before our arrival.  We had wanted to use a newer card for the actual room.  We made the reservation a month prior.

Parking was a pain as well.  The hotel charges non-hotel guests a (too) low daily rate to park at the hotel and take a bus over to the airport, which puts a very heavy strain on parking for actual hotel guests.

The room was nice and the decor was fairly new.  The vaulted ceilings on our top floor room were an interesting feature.

The continental breakfast was decent.  A Texas-shaped waffle was the highlight.  The coffee was bad, to the point where we walked to an adjacent Valero store for coffee.

Texas-shaped waffle at our hotel.

Well, what about Dallas

That will be coming up in our next article.  Our two big attractions, along with some other observations.  Stay tuned!

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