Iraan, TX

After a month full of hubbub in the form of much loved guests visiting us in San Antonio, Jake and I decided to head West into the heart of Texas. We knew that the ‘heart’ of Texas is a pretty barren place. And barren is where we were feeling we needed to go.

After consulting the handy-dandy Campendium site (shameless plug), we settled on a town called Iraan. Because, come on. Texas is home to a place called Iraan? Awesome. Also, Iraan, TX reportedly confirmed offers full-hook up, no reservations needed RV camping for $15 per night. Double awesome.

We found Iraan just how the 60s left it.

Their main attraction is touted to be “Fantasy Land”, but is more realistically the miles and miles of oil pads which dot the surrounding landscape.

Apparently, Iraan is pretty proud of their “fabulous… oil field”. I’d never before heard anyone qualify an oil field as “fabulous”, but I suppose if you’ve got a fabulous oil field – flaunt it.

So anyways, Fantasy Land was created as a tourist attraction. And, since there is nothing but oil pads for miles and miles surrounding Iraan and Fantasy Land, I suppose it is.

Fantasy Land turned out to be plot of land the size of a two football fields with decrepit sculptures and plaques strewn about. It is across the road from a Level 4 trauma center where we never saw more than 2 cars parked in the lot, and next to one of three semi-dilapidated RV parks that are spread across town.

My favorite part of Fantasyland is the memorial to Ira and Ann Yates, which is a medium sized, marble, phallic shaped stone crowned with a tiny replica of an oil derrick. The best part of this memorial was that it was surrounded by 7 foot high chain link fence, which was topped with razor wire. Now, to be clear, Fantasy Land park itself was not gated. There must be something very special about this memorial that needs to be protected.

Also, Iraan was named by combining Ira and Ann. And that means that the town should be pronounced Ira-an, and not ‘Iran’, which is way less cool.

So, other than going and spending as much time as possible at Fantasy Land (which is 20 minutes. 20 minutes is the literally max amount of time possible to spend at Fantasyland), there really is not anything else to do in Iraan. Unless you get level 4 trauma’ed and get to go to the level 4 trauma center. But that is probably the opposite of fun.

There is a donut shop in Iraan. It’s called Kenny’s Donut Shop, and we walked/ran past it a few times before deciding to venture in. Our first attempt to visit Kenny’s was on New Year’s Eve morning, but Kenny’s was closed on New Year’s Eve morning. So, we holed up in Dyna and drank mimosas and ate candy all day instead of eating Kenny’s donuts. We also found out that day that Iraan has no over-the-air cable channels, so we weren’t able to watch Pitbull’s NYE party on TV. This was a tragedy of small proportions for us, as watching Pitbull’s NYE Party on TV has kind of become a ‘thing’ for us to do over FaceTime with my brother and nephew. So instead we just spent two hours trying to get my nephew to re-enact last year’s Pitbull’s NYE TV Party and complaining about how the world is going to shit if we can’t even watch Pitbull’s NYE Party anymore. Apparently, the channel that hosts Pitbull on NYE doesn’t have Pitbull anymore (they have Steve Harvey – who IS that?!) and Pitbull can only be found on Univision – and my brother also doesn’t have cable (he also has over the air only). Man, the hardships were real. Anyways, in terms of the status of Iraan’s lack of Pitbull, the cable company pulled out of Iraan in 2014, according to some signs hung up in the RV park we decided to settle into. Nothing to do, and no Pitbull to watch. Welcome to Iraan, TX.

The sign on Kenny’s door let us know that he’d be open for business on New Year’s day, so we bundled up and walked over there mid morning on New Year’s day. Which brings me to realize that I failed to report how freaking cold it decided to get in Iraan Texas between December 29 – January 2. I don’t know whether our blood has thinned or if Texas just has a ‘bigger’ cold, but jeesh! It got chilly! Our water hose froze, but we learned our lesson on keeping our actual pipes warm last New Year in Nashville. So, other than having to layer up, keep the blinds pulled, and pad the areas around our couch and chairs with extra blankets, we were pretty warm in our box on wheels. Lucy may not have been in agreement, but her apparent chilliness did lead to an increase in cat snuggles. She already likes to snuggle a lot. So it got really snuggly in Dyna over those few days.

Kenny’s. Yes, back to Kenny’s. It’s pretty much the only food game in town that we noticed as being open for any amount of time. There was also a barbecue place that was ok – Jake grabbed a sandwich one day, and it was ‘ok’. And apparently there is also a Mexican breakfast place that was recommended by a friendly fellow Kenny’s patron during our visit, but we never found it to be open.

But yes, Kenny’s. Kenny’s is my favorite. We walked in and found a slightly ramshackle but warm venue with a case full of a variety of donuts and a hand written menu on the wall. Kenny also gave us a pamphlet which was a literal photo copy of the hand written wall menu (how did you do that Kenny?!) in case we wanted to inspect the menu more closely. The menu items were eclectic. I immediately decided on Pho, as it pictured under it’s handwritten menu notation and it was also 20(Texas)º outside. Jake asked Kenny for his recommendation and Kenny immediately let Jake know that the cheesesteak was the best. So, we sat in Kenny’s donut shop and chatted with a local gentleman about the Mexican breakfast place that never did seem to be open while Kenny cooked us up some Pho and a cheesesteak. Both turned out to be pretty good – especially good when the fact that we were in the middle of nowhere Texas was taken into consideration.

In Kenny’s donut shop, I learned that Jake knows a Cambodian last name when he sees it. Kenny’s last name was written on a certificate on the wall, and it was apparently very Cambodian. So Jake asked Kenny a bit about his history. And Kenny told us he moved from Camobodia to New Jersey with his parents as a child, and then spent some time in Boston before returning to New Jersey. I was really curious how Kenny ended up owning a donut shop that sells Pho and cheesesteaks (and donuts) in the middle of nowhere Texas, so asked him. And Kenny told us how he came to reside in Iraan, where there is nothing but a level 4 trauma center, Fantasy Land, 3 town run RV parks, and a bunch of oil pads. He told us:

There was no donut shop. Now there is a donut shop.

I think that is  one the best answers I have ever received to my sometimes nosey questions. Because sometimes, you just gotta go where there is nothing, and create something.

And Iraan’s pretty near to nothingness was just the we needed to create a fortress of warmth against the surprisingly frigid Texas weather – and “get some peace and quiet” (Dexter quote).

If you’re ever in Iraan, TX, go see Kenny. He’s got a donut shop (the only donut shop) in Iraan.