We'll be taking a break from Bryan and College Station to focus on other cities in the Brazos Valley. Yesterday, I went to the Texas Mushroom Festival in Madisonville, which was pretty good. I was feeling a bit under the weather (even worse today, really) but I was able to see Madisonville for the first time since 2005 (or 2003, I think, the last time I went to the Festival), and found that I sort of liked Madisonville. Highway 21 cuts right through the middle of town: two way, stoplights, the whole shebang.
As a small town, it would be rather forgettable: the downtown is functional yet boring. There's no interesting shops, but it seems to be well-occupied at least. But the cool thing is, when you start getting away further from downtown, you can see more of town. There's a closed Movie Gallery, O'Reilly's Auto Parts, a Walmart, a Brookshire Brothers, an even smaller supermarket called "Madisonville Supermarket" (with a Godwin's labelscar clearly obvious: based on online research, it must have de-branded in recent memory), and then a bunch of very tall signs signifying the closeness of the Interstate. Pizza Hut, Jack in the Box, Sonic, McDonald's, Taco Bell, and many others not typically seen in small towns, plus a Buc-ee's, too.
In many ways, it was a forgettable small town fed only by the Interstate. It also lacked a feature seen in most Texas towns: a railroad. A branch line once ran from Navasota to Madisonville, but the line has been abandoned for almost 70 years now.
Madisonville also has a curious lack of hotels, given the Interstate access. Most towns blessed with Interstate access feature a large assortment of restaurants, fast food, and hotels. But Madisonville only has about three hotels, with the only chain being a Best Western. Conversely, the entire I-35 corridor in the Waco-Temple-Killeen area has all sorts of restaurants and the like. But it is worth mentioning that I-45 is basically a straight-shot between Dallas and Houston, while the I-35 corridor has Waco, Temple, Austin, New Braunfels, et cetera. Still, it leaves a bit to be desired. You'd think they would at least have a Wal-Mart Supercenter there.