Monday, 21 July 2014

I'm here at last! How y'all doing, Texas?

[A margarita at H3,  Fort Worth Stockyards]
Howdy from Texas! Okay, I promise, that's the last cowboy reference I'll make. Well, we got here, and it wasn't too painful.

The journey wasn't without incident - but nothing too serious. My GPS threw a spasm when we arrived and refused to navigate us, so we got completely lost coming out of DFW. It's amazing how quickly it goes from urban sprawl to country backwater. I'm sure we could hear banjos ...

But eventually, like we have for the last 6 years, we got to Fort Worth, Stockyards. Now, it would be too easy to pick holes in the Stockyards - it's obviously designed for a certain type of American tourist that likes to dress cowboy style at the weekends - sharp blue jeans, smart tucked-in shirt, big belt and stetson. But hey, I'm a sucker for all that so I love the place.

[Beef ribs at Riscky's, Fort Worth Stockyards]
We're creatures of habit at the Stockyards - after a day travelling, recovering from jet lag, you don't want to make too many decisions. You want cold, alcoholic drinks and comfort food.

So each year, it's a frozen margarita at the H3 saloon, where you get to sit on bar stools with saddles on (yeehaw! sorry, I said I wouldn't do that anymore). Then off to Risckys for all-you-can-eat beef ribs. Problem is, I can't actually eat more than the first plate - I always order one more out of politeness rather than hunger. Note to all of you English BBQ joints - note the presentation, or lack of it. That's how it should be done!

[Joe T Garcia's]
Next night it's Joe T Garcia's - a Fort Worth institution dating backing to 1935. Now, I know I had a little rant about TexMex a while back, but it's a hard man who's not charmed by this place, with its outdoor hacienda style eating. And the fajitas are really good. But note - the portions are vast. My daughter and I shared one portion, and even then we were stuffed.

Fort Worth is also famous for its steak houses - Cattlemen's dates back to 1947, and is a quality, reliable steakhouse. Personally, I favour the johnny-come-lately H3 in the Stockyard's Hotel. We ate in Cattlemen's this year, and I'll get to eat in H3 at the end of the trip - I'll try and compare them for you later.

[Fajitas at Joe T Garcia's]
Finally, we got to try the burgers in both Riscky's and Love Shack this year, purely in the cause of research - the things I do for you, dear reader(s). I'll tell all about that later too!

We also got me my cowboy fix. Two nights at the rodeo this year, which had me a hollerin' as loud as any Texan (much to the embarrassment of my daughter). Plus the usual Stockyards rituals of the cattle drive down the main street (a few, slow moving longhorns enjoying a pampered retirement, and no risk of a stampede), and a shoot out between a few old boys in costume that keeps the kids (and me) amused.

[Rodeo at the Cowtown Coliseum]
Now it's time to leave the land of the erstatz cowboy. Time to take my daughter at camp and drive the ever so exciting 339 miles up and down the I35 between camp and Austin (with a stop for a kolache or two!). Austin, here I come!

Ps. You can see more photos from here, and my travels in general, at my Flickr account.


  1. There is quite a bit of highway construction between Hillsboro and Austin nowadays, so be careful, and expect some delays.

    At the start of the trip, if you are driving down Central Expressway (US-75), and you want to avoid going through the downtown Dallas Mixmaster, I would suggest staying on 75 as it becomes Interstate 45.

    10 miles South of downtown it connects-up with I-20, and if you take I-20 West, in another 6 miles it will connect back with I-35 South.

    Back when I lived in Dallas, one time my GPS suggested this route, and to my surprise, it was not only faster than trying to go through the Mixmaster, but actually relaxing compared to the stress of the normal route.

    Good luck, and don’t forget to stay to the right! ;-)

  2. Thanks! In the end it was all pretty uneventful - as I was coming from Fort Worth, I just picked up the I35 north to get to Gainesville, and the Summer Camp, then straight south to Austin. Boring, but easy. But thanks for the advice!