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Revisiting the days when "cattle was king"
WE enjoy the quirky things you come across in the United States. When going to the ladies’ rest room in one town, Ellie apologized, not realizing there was a queue - standing in line as they call it.
“Yes,” said a lady to Ellie, “This is only a one-holer.”
In the meantime, in the gents, my eyes alighted on a condom dispenser. One slot had “French ticklers” the other, with a picture of a blonde with mouth open, was called The Screamer.
It pointed out ear-plugs are not included.
In our experience Texans seemed to have more trouble understanding an English accent than anywhere else we have been in the States.
Ironically an Austin woman told us she could not tell the difference between South African, Australian and English! I said that was strange because we could tell the difference between Georgia, Texan and Bronx accents. “Oh that’s easy,” she said.
When inquiring about nearby motels in Austin, a waitress informed me the Sheraton and the Hilton were just up the road. I had stressed the word “motel”. When she left, I said to Ellie they must think we are rich and slumming it, to which she added: “Do you think I would be having a Hunka Hunka burger if we could afford the Hilton?”
Later a saleslady said to Ellie: “Just lurve that accent. I want one.”
Advertising genuine “American fireworks” on sale, the hoarding said you can see their complete line on bigthunder.com.
Travelling along the interstate we saw a “semi” (18 wheeler truck), with the words painted on the back: “You are 63 feet away from a contented driver.”
The independent nation of Texas was born shortly after the Texas rebels beat the hell out of the Mexicans with the war cry “Remember the Alamo”.
Not many people know Texas was an individual republic for a while. But at least something of the Indian remains in the name unlike the surviving Texas Indians, which aren’t many: they have been assimilated into the mainstream population.
As the tour guide said: “They tried to convert the other tribes to Christianity and farming but the Apaches were having none of that.”
San Antonio was nice, even though I found the proliferation of traffic lights and one-way streets a trifle harrowing when trying to progress. Austin, with its wide avenues and trees, is also easy on the eye and Congress Avenue leads you into the city, with a Paris-type vista of the Capitol building at the top.
You head towards this dominant feature and it is impressive although, when caught in the afternoon light from certain angles, the light gave the cupola a hue of dog-turd brown, which would not have been my choice of colour.
Sixth Street has the older quarter and lays claim to being the live music capital of the world. There is music in every bar and eatery on a 200-yard strip and the place is rife with ATMs. Now what would they need to keep withdrawing cash for?
We heard some music and lunched and walked the strip. It is one thing to see Led Zep and Pink Floyd t-shirts but another to see Depeche Mode.
We decided to push on for Fort Worth and did so. In the evening there, we went in to Sundance Square and listened to a live group, had a meal and generally chilled. We found our table was placed en route to the girl’s toilet so all these little things in pelmets and short booties with a v down the back, came tripping through.
After a few beers we decided to stay here three nights and sample a bit of western life. The fact we got back to the motel some four miles out of town, kinda clinched it for us. Our kinda place.
The next day we undertook some retail therapy at Walmart’s on the way to Fort Worth’s very impressive stockyard area.
There were the usual tat-shops… well not quite. Ellie looked at a pair of hand-made boots and they cost $1200 and I looked at a hat and it was priced at $1,550, but, as a sign pointed out, it was genuiwine chamoiZe leather.
All the shops were stunningly expensive but nice to see how those, who don’t have to economise with Hunka Hunka Burgers for lunch, actually live.
Incidentally, I had catfish stewed, grilled and breaded, in fact I had been presented with so much breadcrumbed fare, and had so much of Ellie’s as she has scraped them bare before eating, I may well develop a gluten intolerance like my wife’s.
That morning we went to the stockyards to see some 20 bored longhorns being ushered down the main drag by cowboys who at least acted the part but there were no runaways. Incidentally, those horns are really long.
Fort Worth was the cattle town of the 1860-1880’s and still processed beef in large quantities up until the last world war. From here cattle drives hit the Chisholm Trail up towards Red River and Kansas, through what was assigned as Indian Territory, until the whites decided they had been too generous uprooting them from their previous homelands and giving the Indians this land west of the big river. Realising that mistake, they pushed most of the Indians out took over the “land granted to the red man for all time” and called it Oklahoma.
It was said (by Teddy Roosevelt) Texans were the best cowboy horsemen but the Mexicans edged them with the use of the rope etc. The words lariat, lasso, mustang, chaps and bandana are part of every-day cowboy-speak but are originally Mexican words.
We had lunch at Billy Bob’s giant emporium that includes dance-floors, stages, gaming tables and the like, all under one large roof and all open-plan. It is nearly three (3) acres big, and remember it is open plan, can host 5,000 at a time, with a 20 acre car park.
After you have been on the trail a-whiles you get kinda weary and so we decided to ease up for some chow. We ate at the topically-named Waterhole 1.
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