|Texas welcomes Ethel (Annette) & Lucy (Elaine)|
Other than my leading Annette into the men's restroom at the Mississippi Welcome Center, the first day of our 2016 Texas Road Trip was uneventful. Both of us find interstates boring, but we wanted to get to Fort Worth as soon as possible. So we took I-20, stopping in Longview, TX, for the first night. Monday, we took I-30 through Dallas because Annette wanted to take some photos of the Big D skyline.
We arrived in Cowtown via I-820, checked into our hotel early, then hitched a ride in the shuttle to the Stockyards Historical District. After lunch, we did the official Stockyards Tour, then lined up with other tourists along Exchange Avenue to watch the 4 p.m. cattle drive. Twice daily cowboys who work for the stockyards (what a job!) push The Herd, as the resident longhorns are called, down the main drag a few short blocks. We felt like we had stepped back into the frontier days when cowboys drove thousands of cattle into Cowtown to be shipped to the meat-packing plants.
That nostalgic feeling returned Tuesday when we got a private tour of two rooms at the Stockyards Hotel. Since 1907 it has welcomed cowboys and cattle barons, kings and queens of country music, even Bonnie & Clyde. The rooms are decorated in a variety of period styles that provide turn-of-the century flavor. With its red leather sofa in the lobby and chair cushions upholstered in western-themed fabrics, it has a lot of cowboy ambiance. We half expected a cattle baron to stroll through the lobby, tip his hat, and say, “Howdy, m’am.” We’re contemplating spending a night or two there next year.
We had lunch at the H3 Ranch, a restaurant named after the Hunter Brothers Ranch. It's famous for its live hickory-wood grill, where your food is cooked before your eyes. For the life of me I cannot recall what I ate. I was too focused on the mounted buffalo and steer heads, the whole mounted wild boar and the antler chandeliers.
I remember the wine, probably because I felt so decadent drinking wine in the middle of the day. Our waitress tried to convince me that the H3 house Cab was better than the cheaper Salmon Creek, so I asked for samples. I liked the cheaper stuff best. It had more body.
Booger Red's Saloon is next door to the H3 in an adjoining room. A mounted buffalo butt protrudes from the wall above the saloon’s bar, as if the poor creature had tried to run right through it and got stuck. The butt is there because the saloon serves Buffalo Butt Beer. Some of the bar stools are saddles, so I had to mount one for a photo opt. Considering the difficulty I had dismounting before drinking any wine, I cannot imagine how a drunken cattleman or cowboy would get off of one.
Tuesday night we came back to the Stockyards to have dinner at Billy Bob’s. The chicken-fried steak was okay, but people don’t go there for the food. It’s the live country music, large dance floor and mechanical bull that draw folks in. A handful of women were line dancing, but we just watched. Handprints of famous musicians who have played there are preserved in plaster casts mounted along the walls. Particularly interesting to us were Loretta Lynn, Jerry Lee Lewis and his cousin, Mickey Gilley, Ringo Starr, Patty Loveless and the late Johnny Paycheck, Conway Twitty and Ray Price.
Of course, we had to get our photos made on the mechanical bull. I took more than 500 photos on this trip, but this is my favorite.
In a few days, I’ll post the next installment of my Texas Travelogue, which takes place on the backroads through several quaint little towns and shopping sprees. It lead us into Boerne for the George Strait Team Roping Classic. Again, stay tuned, please.