Yes folks, it’s true.
Thank you, Laura, because had you not moved out here, I may never have come to Texas.
As it is, we wave the UK goodbye, and fly to DFW (Dallas Fort Worth) International Airport, where Laura and the family are waiting to greet us. I shall gloss over the long, long wait to get through security once we have landed, because seeing their faces as we walk into Arrivals, Delilah holding up a home made welcome banner, makes it all worthwhile.
Hugs all round!
So, apart from playing American football with the grandchildren, and another game that I really do not understand, in which I am declared out before I have even had sight of the ball, and aside from spending copious amounts of time with our youngest daughter – a rare treat in itself, how much can we see of Texas in two weeks? Laura is happy to be our guide as her busy lifestyle has meant she has not seen too much herself in the year she has been here.
Dave’s ambition is to purchase a cowboy hat and a pair of boots. Plans are thwarted momentarily as I need to visit Laura’s dentist to have a crown put back in. Dave waits outside the surgery and manages to get his face sunburnt. He needs that hat!
Here is the banner Delilah has made that greeted us at the airport…
and the following day at our Airbnb, children safely at school, here is Laura surveying her cache of chocolate that I managed to bring across in a suitcase – well, it is Easter!
Dave hires a small car which we can use for our mandatory holiday supermarket visits. Laura drives with confidence on the wide roads and eight laned Freeways. We will be leaving this to her. An early misadventure when trying to reach the Wild West Café, using the Sat Nav that seems to be taking us to one further afield, ends with Dave having to cross several lanes in order to execute a U Turn, eliciting the wrath of another driver in the process, only to be followed by a handbrake turn into the entrance. (Our return journey is quicker. We can almost see our Airbnb from here – a mere 3 minute drive.)
We go for a bracing walk round the Grapevine Lake, with Bull dog Albert, only to find that dinosaurs have moved in overnight. The children love it – Albert is not so sure. Personally, I think the experience could be even better if the sun decides to come out or I am given a hot water bottle. Still, we live and learn!
We visit the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas, where X marks the spot in the road where Kennedy was shot. Both eerie and extremely moving, this is somewhere we never thought to be. Some surreal moments follow as we re-live the grainy footage running on small screens. More questions than answers seem to be raised the more we watch. It is both sad and thought provoking and well worth the visit. Before we leave, we are directed to a window on the sixth floor, from which we can clearly see the Dealey Plaza. Lisa seems to have gone missing. Some time later, Lisa reappears and informs Laura and I that she has found a lovely viewing area. ‘We didn’t see you there’, we frown.
‘Follow me,’ she says and takes us back up the stairs and past the place where we have been, which afforded us the view of the Dealey Plaza, and on and up past the rest rooms and refuse bins. We stare dubiously out of the window she has pointed to in triumph. Well, a view it is but of the back of the buildings around us. We take her back to the view of the Dealey Plaza but she prefers the other view it seems. I can see her point as we watch people standing on the ‘X’ between traffic, just to have their photo taken. A little too macabre for me.
Between meals at Saltgrass, the Texas Roadhouse, a ‘grownups’ only’ meal at Stonehouse, and a return trip to The Wild West Café with everyone, (Laura drives), we are spoilt with Paul’s delicious Roast Dinner and Pasta dishes from Laura. We do not go hungry! Then there are the lunches and morning coffees we sneak in while children are at school. We shop in Southlake and even view a house with Laura … the houses here are BIG.
On one trip, we go to a marvellous shop called Lucchese where Dave buys a pair of cowboy boots. The pictures say it all. Only his hat and maybe a belt, to go now.
Things I have noticed about Texas so far:
We don’t see anyone else walking down the suburban streets, the grass is so manicured, the paths and roads so clean but there is no one about. Where are the people?
In restaurants, the food is all served at a fast and furious pace.
The food tends to be fried and salad is a rarity but there is generally a choice of either Salmon or steak.
The weather has changed and temperatures are climbing. The children swim in the pool, Albert circles the water, threatening to fall in, Delilah has made Lisa promise she will swim in the pool when it is warmer.
Lisa insists the water has to be warmer still, before she gets in.
Meanwhile, we take the children to the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden, the children seem to enjoy it and so do we. It is a lovely place to wander around. There are other people here too! The sun beats down and the photos tell their own story.
The Texas sun seems to be making them grow like sunflowers.
Here are the flowerpots:
Remember Bill and Ben? (BBC TV )
Dave has some boots, now there is just the hat and maybe a belt to get! He wears his cap for now to shield him from the hot Texan sun.
We drive to Southfork, how could we go to Dallas without visiting Southfork?
It may be hilarious, it may be weird and wonderful, what do we care when it transpires ‘Dallas’ (imagine theme tune) was only filmed outside the house. The family living within at the time, would not allow film crews inside. There is a whole false interior reconstructed over in California – except, they made the reconstruction twice the size. (Of course they did!) But hold on, this surely renders Southfork, a Tardis?
We are so glad we have come. A highlight for me is that the scripts displayed on the walls, are complete with scrawled amendments. I admit, we take some tacky photographs, but this is Southfork! ‘bear with’.
Southfork is another ‘must see’ place that we never thought we’d be at. Much of the Ranch is now given over to functions and no wonder. How long will it be before there are no more of us who remember JR and Sue Ellen? I think we have got here just in time.
So, what else can Laura have in store for us? Oh yes, The Rodeo! Saving the biggest, if not the best, the most colourful sight, until last.
Dave manages to purchase his hat and a belt and a fancy buckle in the Stockyards. He is now kitted out though we won’t be getting him a horse – it’d never get on the plane.
William would like a hat so Granddad lends it to him for a moment.
There are stalls and animals and every kind of food as long as it is fried and covered in cheese. No salads here that I can see. There are more people here than we have seen for weeks. Crowds of people. It is bright, it is colourful and it is Loud.
We leave Laura and Paul to have five minutes’ peace while we take the children in to see the goats. The man at the door tells us it is $5 each to go in and $3 each for food. Lisa smiles, ‘Oh, we won’t need food thank you, we are eating later,’ she tells him.
The rest of us stare at her and burst out laughing,
The man at the door drawls,
“The food is for the goats, Ma’am,” and doesn’t even smile.
Time for the Rodeo which, I am reliably informed, means, Roundup:
How to describe it? A rich carnival of colour, entertainment and NOISE!
An impossibly young singer belts out tunes as people take their seats. The children collect candyfloss that dyes their tongues blue and I wonder how many e numbers are in that one twist. There is a riot of colour as the riders gallop into the ring. There are Cowboys and Cowgirls, Lassoing and bronco riding. I am most impressed with the Cowgirls, one a mere 8 years old, who ride into the ring at speed to negotiate strategically placed barrels in the fastest time. Amazing skill.
I am less enamoured by the lassoing of calves but I am not a Texan. Rodeo, I have heard, is the official sport of Texas.
Outside again, the evening has set in but the night has just begun for some. The street is alight with people and large wheeled cars, both clad in shimmering colours. Music blares out and car horns toot. Children tire. We head back.
Unbelievably, it is our final day. The sun shines, temperatures soar into the 30s and after brunch at the Wild West Café, Lisa finally has to go in the pool with Delilah. Albert skirts the pool constantly, threatening to fall in (he has already had to be hauled out once it seems) while we sit under the shade and watch.
As our two weeks in Texas draw to their end, we are reluctant to say goodbye. Laura drives us to the airport where she and I make a valiant effort not to cry. We fail. Watching her drive away, we have no choice but to pick up our bags and drag them to the check-in which, amazingly, turns out to be at the side of the road, not two yards from where we parked. A delightful, mature, Jamaican gentleman relieves us of bags and issues boarding passes right there.
We trust him to see them safely onto the plane – and head to the departure lounge.
Texas made us welcome, Texas was hot (apart from the first couple of chilly days) and spending time with Laura and Paul and the children has been wonderful. We have had an amazing time. We have been astounded by some of the things we have seen and heard. Marvelled at the wideness of the roads, the complexity of the lanes and been delighted by the friendliness of shop staff who think we are from Australia – that’s familiar eh? Remember California?
Here are a few things I now know about Texas:
1. Texas became the 28th state of the union, in 1845
2. The only state larger in area, is Alaska.
3. Its population is estimated to be over 30 million.
4. The state identifies strongly with its cowboy heritage.
5. Laura and Paul moved to the state in 2022.
6. The weather is diverse, with extremes of heat, tornedos and hurricanes.
7. The Texans seem to be a friendly bunch.
8. Generally, Texan drivers are not very good at negotiating roundabouts AKA Circles.
9. Y’all, is the most common phrase heard.
10. You all, is not heard.
11. Texas is known as the Lone Star State and children sing “Texas, our Texas” in school.
12. Schools here don’t seem to have windows on the outside.
13. Guns – (I won’t even go there because it makes me sad).
Goodbyes said, if a little tearfully, we have set our minds to Washington DC, our next port of call.
So, thank you for having us, Texas!