Back in March, I went to Texas for a week for a work trip to visit colleagues in Plano, just north of Dallas. I was quite excited about my first US trip that wasn’t California, not least of all because it’s TEXAS. BBQ ribs, Chuck Norris, Tex Mex, Guns, Dallas Cowboys, JFK assassination – there’s a lot that Texas is known for. Considering my workmate and I only had 1 weekend to be tourists, we weren’t going to see everything. For a start, it wasn’t football season, so we went to see the Dallas Stars play ice hockey instead.
The stadium was full and the crowd were amped! Lots of lights, loud music in between plays, cheerleaders dancing when goals were scored – it was a pretty amped atmosphere! It was weird to see all the advertising. The whole game was *smothered* in advertising. American Airlines, Budweiser, Ford – there were so many brands and sponsors. The Taco goal was my favourite – if a goal was scored in the third period, everyone got a voucher for a free taco from Taco Bueno. The crowd did roar with excitement! But no goal was scored. The Stars lost the game in the end to the Calgary Flames – but it was a great night regardless.
One of the key tourist attractions in the Dallas area are the Fort Worth Stockyards. Stockyards are a large set of pens for keeping or sorting cattle, and these one of the biggest between 1866 and 1890. Over 4 million cattle were trailed through Fort Worth by cowboys taking the cattle up to Kansas. Fort Worth was the last safe stop before the cowboys went through Indian territory to the north and grew into a busily town. The stockyards were mostly open pens which could hold 100,00 cattle (!!). All the space to the right below with no grass or trees is actually bricked over surface from the old stockyards. Yep – there are a million bricks out there under the dirt.
There’s still these sheltered pens, which have half been converted into shops and restaurants. The place was packed on this St Patrick’s Day!
We also went to see some real cowboys and cowgirls competing in a rodeo. This was a serious competition – these guys and gals had competition numbers, national rankings, and rules to comply with. There were bucking broncos, bull riding, lassoing calves and time trials. The evening was a family affair and a great night!
Our last main piece of touristy activity during the weekend was visiting Dealey Plaza where JFK was assassinated in 1963. There is a museum on the 6th floor of the building where Lee Harvey Oswald supposedly shot JFK from, but the queue was 1.5hrs to get in! We decided to pass and just wander around outside instead. Here’s the building itself and JFK’s motorcade would’ve drive down from the right behind me.
And here’s a shot across the road to the famous Grassy Knoll. On the day, police thought they heard shots from on the knoll and ran up there, but no gunmen was found. The wooden fence at the top of the rise has been rebuilt many times since 1963 as a replica of the original fence.
Here’s a picture from where the famous video footage was recorded on that day. Dallas has made an obvious effort to not change the area too much over the years, and it’s easily recognizable.
A sobering piece of sightseeing, but special to see a sight that’s before my time, but so familiar.
I had a great weekend in Texas with my work mates. One of the great things about Texas? The food! Burgers, crawfish, steak, fresh smoked salmon, ribs, Tex Mex and more. They are proper foodies in Texas – I had a lot of great meals! Favourite meal? The ribs! They were sticky sweet and delicious – so much so I bought a bottle of Texan BBQ sauce and hot sauce to take home. I bought Rob a few things too, including Texan wine (they do good Voignier and Roussanne) and a tshirt from Fort Worth – ‘Full of Bull’.
Texas, I’ll have to come back sometime. My Texan mate tells me that Austin is an awesome city and so much fun. I’ll have to go see it sometime.
Next, back to our usual European travels.