Neil and Lynn take a road trip

I’ve always been jealous of our buddy Steven Chamblee and his road trip stories here in e-gardens.

Migraine-associated vertigo has pretty much ruled out airplane and long car travel for me since 2016. However, this past Monday I was feeling great, so we headed west out of McKinney. It wasn’t an elaborate or glamorous day trip, but it surely was fun.

First stop was the Denton State Supported Living Center where we are finally able to look toward constructing the greenhouse provided by great WBAP listeners in Christmas is for Caring 2020. I met with staff from the Center and the man who will head up the construction team. The pandemic has slowed us down. It’s going to be fun to watch that finally develop.

Neil, Alan Walter and Alan’s business partner Tom Knox are ready to open the new Denton County Ace Hardware within the next couple of months. They have bought the former Day’s Hardware and will be moving the store a few doors to the west.

From there we drove up into the north side of Denton where my longtime friend and advertiser Alan Walter of Ace Hardware Stores in the Hulen area and Justin is about to open a store on West University in Denton. Alan showed us the space where he’ll be moving the Day’s Hardware he has bought. You’re going to love Denton County Ace Hardware.

Dee Marrow-Zane, manager of the nursery at Justin Ace Hardware, with Neil. Dee has been there since the nursery opened. You can tell in 5 minutes that her customers love her.

From there we dropped down to Justin to see Alan’s Justin Ace Hardware. Lovely store with a really nice garden center attached. Dee Marrow-Zane manages that garden center, and she is nothing short of terrific. She loves her work, and her customers love her. A lady shopping in the store recognized me and asked if I knew Dee. She went on and on about how much she enjoys Dee’s help.

Dee had some fun plants in stock. I didn’t know she was headed that way (her day off), so I was busy snapping photos of some that caught my eye to share with you here. It was fun to meet Dee on her turf!

Coleus ‘Fancy Feathers Copper’

This group of strap-leafed coleus was bred by Terra Nova Nurseries for its unusual mounding form and texture. You’ll find them as Fancy Feathers Copper, Pink and Black. Click image for larger view.

Cuphea Honeybells

I’m a big fan of understated plants. Mexican heather is another cuphea that fits that description. This is a relative newcomer that’s great in hanging baskets or patio pots. Its small, colorful flowers are attractive to bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. Click image for larger view.

Strawflower Granvia Gold

When you see these flowers you don’t expect them to be crisp and crunchy. But this “super strawflower,” as it’s described by many, is exactly that. It’s an “ever-lasting” strawflower that can be dried and used in flower arrangements over the winter, or you can just enjoy it in patio pots up until frost. This one really catches your eye.

Bronze mum

OK. Nothing too out-of-the-ordinary here, but eye-catching nonetheless. I had to include it. It just wouldn’t be fall without a regular dose of chrysanthemums, and Dee had some nice ones.

407 BBQ. We knew they were closed on Mondays – I had looked them up ahead of time. But we drove by 407 BBQ on the far west edge of Argyle near Justin to let my wife smell the smoke. Click image for larger view.

Monday was the eve of my wife’s birthday. I knew she had a full day of appointments the next day, capped off with a school board meeting Tuesday night, so I had hoped to take her to 407 BBQ while we were in Justin. Our son had taken me there on the way to a football game recently. However, on the way we found out that they’re closed on Mondays.

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Lynn’s comeback, “How about trying Sweetie Pie’s? How far is Decatur?” When I put it into Waze, it showed it to be only 19 miles. That’s a lot closer than if we started fresh from McKinney, so off we went headed farther west.

The Wise County Courthouse has stood on the downtown square overlooking the grasslands for many decades. It’s a glorious landmark.

We’re big fans of Babe’s Chicken Houses, and Sweetie Pie’s is their sister restaurant, so we knew it would be good. It was just great. And downtown Decatur is like a trip into a great old western movie. Friendly people and fabulous food.

Click image for larger view.
Sweetie Pie’s Ribeyes, on the square in Downtown Decatur.

And we were home by our bedtime. Never mind that we missed the Cowboys game on TV. I’m a radio guy anyway.

So that was our big road trip. That’s the farthest I’ve been away from home in almost two years. Take that, old vertigo. Who wants you anyway!

Posted by Neil Sperry
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