Cross Plains, TX at 10:45pm on a Friday #travel #blog
Cross Plains, Texas is a real town which totally does exist. I, in fact, went there. Briefly. It’s northwest of Austin past all the prickly pears and that one wind farm, and back in time 30 years to when cell service wasn’t really a thing. It has a motel, apparently. Not that I have personal confirmation of this; a reliable source tipped me off. The word “luxury” was used. I’m not really sure what that means in this context.
There is a Dairy Queen. I know that for a fact.
I went to Cross Plains with a group of friends to visit the Robert E. Howard museum, a small, white house dating to the early 1900s. Sitting at the intersection of Highway 36 and Avenue J, it backs onto a grassy area and a paviliony thing that has some sort of historical significance that I didn’t pay attention to. The Robert E. Howard museum may contain stuff, presumably relating in some way to the life and work of Robert E. Howard, creator of Conan the Barbarian, and/or a different Robert E. Howard. It is open during the day so that visitors can enter and view this stuff, but I, alas, wasn’t there during the day. There might be an entrance fee or something? I seriously have no idea.
The grassy area is full of giant mosquitos, which adds to the sense that you’re in an actual small town, for real. Various members of our group brought bug spray and citronella incense, but I think the key reason I didn’t personally get swarmed is that other people did. Add that to your list of travel necessities: someone juicier than you are, preferably a vegetarian. And whenever your conscience pricks you, remember that consuming the flesh of murdered animals does have its practical advantages.
Speaking of murdered animals, we stopped at the Dairy Queen on the way into town. There may or may not be other restaurants in Cross Plains, but none that are open at 10:30pm on a Friday. Since we were traveling in separate cars, our group had arranged to meet at the museum, but instead most of us found ourselves at the DQ at about the same time. That meeting fostered a real sense of camaraderie, a shared feeling of “what the fuck is with this town, holy crap” that kept our hearts aglow during the hour and a half we spent standing out back of the museum, staring at our phones for reasons that are way too complicated to get into here.
Cross Plains has a population of at least 3. Wikipedia puts it at 1,068, but I’m not sure I’d go that far.
Besides the Robert E. Howard Museum and the pavilion behind it, Cross Plains has several other historical sites that might be worth a visit. Again, I wasn’t actually paying attention to their names or anything, but I know we drove past them in the dark.
So, we made a three-hour trip from Austin to Cross Plains. We stopped at Dairy Queen. We went to the area behind the museum and hung around there for an hour plus, chatting, feeding the mosquitoes, eating cupcakes that one of our number had kindly schlepped all the way from Austin, and most importantly, looking at our phones and cursing the terrible cell service. Then, around midnight, we got back in our cars. Some of us were staying in town at the “luxury motel”. The rest of us cleared out, heading back to Austin along the pitch-black backwoods highway. We stopped for gas and energy drinks at the first opportunity—in the next town over. It had more lights that Cross Plains, but the signal wasn’t any better.
3 stars, I guess?