It’s Rodeo Time in Houston- that means boots!
We have been busy since I last wrote, hence the delay.
On Monday the Houston Rodeo started. It is absolutely huge and goes for three weeks. It has the familiar feel of the Sydney Royal Easter show but of course bigger (it is Texas). On top of the carnival and usual exhibits there is also a considerable lineup of 20 evening concert performers some of the names I recognize are; Cardi B?, Camila Carbello, Tim McGraw, Kings of Leon and Santana. Josie, ZEDD is also playing. Wasn’t that who came on before Katy Perry? Anyway, not planning on seeing him again; I think my cells were vibrating to the electronic noise at that concert. (I was worried they might reach simple harmonic motion and explode- showing my age and taste in music). Rob and I have tickets to Santana in a week or so. I hope that we can take the afternoon off to go to the actual Rodeo as well.
I had morning tea with a fabulous Texan lady on Friday last week. A friend of a friend, who told me that last Friday was Back to Texas day. This meant that all the school kids were encouraged to wear their blue jeans, checked shirts and cowboy boots and hats to school. As I did not have any boots yet, we made a stop into a fabulous shop called Cavenders, where you can get all variety of Texas clothing and bought my first pair of boots. They are so comfortable, I’m sure they won’t be my last pair. (Sharon Wilson). The only problem is getting them off. At the moment, I need Rob at home to pull them off for me. I have just put them on to take a picture, so I guess I’m in them for the rest of the day. It fun to see how people really get into the spirit. Boots are just part of the daily dress here for many people; just like RM’s in Australia.
Friday was also the day that the trail riders came into Houston to signify the start of the rodeo. The rail riders are an historical group who take covered wagons and horses. The first trail ride to the Houston rodeo was in 1952 from Brenham, just near to Houston. This year there were about 2000 participants and they come from as far away as San Antonio and Louisiana. It’s a big deal. We did not get to see the trail riders in person this year but next year it will definitely be on the list. The rodeo kicks off with the trail riders but also the World’s Champion BBQ contest. Of course, there is a lot of BBQ meat and beer. Unfortunately it rained, although I’m sure that did not deter the enthusiasts. https://www.khou.com/article/news/local/all-trails-lead-to-houston-trail-riders-on-their-way-to-the-bayou-city/285-3862b904-35d0-435c-af79-768c9429f228
There was so much going on last weekend, not realizing there would be a clash, I booked us into the Galveston Mardi Gras fun run. It is a five kilometer (strange to have the fun-run measured in km despite being an imperial system here) run around the main blocks in Galveston. It is a nice old town with some really grand looking buildings, harking back to a wealthy and genteel time. It does seem a bit run down now though, and the weather again did not help. When I went to Galveston with Ben and Maddy it was super foggy. This time is was a bit rainy and cloudy early in the day. That was ok for the run of course. We were sort of expecting thousands of runners but there were probably less that one thousand and many of them walkers. The streets are cobbled and have tram tracks, so you need to watch your feet. It was fun though and over before it started to get humid and hotter in the afternoon. Not knowing what to expect (traffic and event-wise) I also booked us into one of the “balcony parties”. These are balconies above the parade where you can watch (and drink). In Texas, bars only sell alcohol, no food. So unlike NSW where, in my experience, if you sell alcohol you should have some food available. So, we arrived to watch the parade at lunchtime and the waitress said there was no food available, not even crisps. She also said that we could not bring food into the venue. I knew that would not work for me (I was starving and I’m a light weight) so went back down to the security guy at the door who checked and said I could go out and get something to eat from the food vans everywhere. Italian-sausage-to-share later and we were set up to watch the first or three parades- the golf buggy parade.
The thing about Mardi Gras apparently are the beads! I don’t really get it, but people throw strands of beads from the carts to the crowd and the party crowd on the balconies throw beads down to the people in the street. Anyway, needless to say we got lots of beads. There must be some tradition associated with this, I will have to investigate further. The golf carts were fun. The next parades were 4 hours later so we decided to head back to Houston. It was a fun day and a lovely way to get involved in some Texas traditions.
The only-alcohol/no-food in bars thing seems odd to me. If we had stayed on the balcony for the four hours we were entitled to, and continued to buy drinks only, I doubt we would have been in a fit state to drive home. But then again if you want to buy a beer for the road you can get it with your gas at the service station. They even have it on ice in big ice cream fridges at the front of the store as you walk in. so much for don’t drink and drive. I had to go to the pharmacy this morning and they even sell alcohol in the pharmacy, cold in the fridges if you need it or by the gallon on the shelves. I’m not sure if that indicates that Texans have a more mature relationship with alcohol than Australians or not.
We also visited Austin a few weekends ago. Austin is the capital of Texas and a really cool place. It rates itself as the best live music city in the US, with more live music venues than anywhere else. It was freezing Saturday when we drove the couple of hours to Austin. We checked into the tourist information Centre and booked a short highlights of Austin bus tour for later in the afternoon. We then drove to the Capitol building. It is very impressive with a huge dome and lovely mosaics. They have pretty gardens around the building and so when they needed to expand it a few decades ago they went underground. The underground offices and administration actually takes up twice as much area as the on top part but does not interfere with the historic building or the parks. A great idea.
After that we went to a little pub nearby for some lunch and to warm up. (did I mention it was COLD). The bus tour was very informative and run by AO tours and booked through OnceThere. I recommend them. It was a quick overview for orienting yourself and covering a few main points. That evening we went down to 6th street area to hear some live music. It is winter so I think some of the venues are in recess, but we got recommendations from the tourist office and ended up in a fabulous jazz club called Parker jazz club. It is in the basement of anther club on west 4th street. The cover charge was reasonable and the food and cocktails yummy. However, the best part was the music. The Ryan Davis trio featured and then Kris the club owner and his wife joined them. Kris played every kind of wind instrument I have ever seen and many I have never seen before. Then he invited Ephram Owens onto the stage (he just happened to be in the club). Owens played (red hot) trumpet. The whole evening was such fun and perfect for a cold night.
On Sunday we went along to the Bullock Texas Museum. This was a fascinating stroll through the history of Texas. This state has been under 6 different flags and is the only state allowed to fly its flag next to the stars and stripes at the same height. It was its own republic for a while and was not involved in the war of independence because it was part of Mexico at the time. Fascinating. In the spirit of Bullock, we stopped at the Southside Market and BBQ on the way home and had…. BBQ. It was delicious.
We have had a couple of weekends at home and will again this weekend but hopefully in a couple of weeks we will head out again to check out the scenery. In the meantime, we are doing our tax and getting ready to take the Texas driving license test! I’ll let you know how that goes (I hope I pass).