Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Texas. Longhorns, True Cowboys And Ribs



SAMSEP11 016Few things symbolize Texas more than “Cowboys And Steers”. Real “Cowboys”, ones in Wranglers and Ropers not Spandex and Nikes.

Men that can wrestle a thousand plus pound animal to ground better than any 300lb defensive tackle ever could.






SAMSEP11 021Fort Worth Stock Yards


I get to experience a bit this part of Texas during my brief visit to the Fort Worth Stock Yards, less than an hour's drive from about anywhere in Dallas. Here you can find The Cowboy Museum where on the outside wall is posted a quote from President Theodore Roosevelt (1885) concerning the Texans role as cowboys.


SAMSEP11 001“They are fearless... being unequaled in trying times … excelled only by the Mexicans.”






At 4pm, there is a little action up the street as a crowd waits to witness a daily tradition that has been going on here since the late 1990's. With strategically placed cowboys on horseback, the twice daily parade of Texas Longhorns begins towards The Fort Worth Stockyard Exchange.

These are some beautiful animals, with curved and twisted horns than span at least four feet tip to tip.




SAMSEP11 003Texas Longhorns And True Cowboys



SAMSEP11 007As the tail end of the herd goes by, one or two of them decide to leave a few presents behind for us.

Although I am hungry, I don't find their “Road Apples” all that appealing.






SAMSEP11 009Instead, with a worked up appetite, I end up at Riscky's Barbeque where for $9.95 I can have all I can eat of their famous beef ribs. Along with red beans, Texas toast, a Polish pickle and a Texas size Shiner Bock, I am ready to chow down.







SAMSEP11 014Riscky’s Beef Rib Platter



SAMSEP11 013Texas Size Shiner Bock

Filled from Riscky's ribs, I take a stroll toward The Texas Coliseum, birthplace of the modern indoor rodeo. A place visited by Governors and Presidents through out its history.

At the right time of the year, a place that I am sure would be lots of fun, at least 8 seconds or so at a time.






SAMSEP11 020Texas Coliseum




Monday, September 17, 2012

Texas, The Patriotic Rangers


I arrive at my hotel, the Baymont Inn at Six Flags with about 10 minutes to spare before the last Arlington Trolley makes it's stop there. The Trolley provides a free service from area hotels to Rangers Ballpark which is about a mile away. With no hassles to worry about parking, this is a nice option for seeing a Rangers game or watching that other team that thinks it is “America's Team”.


SAMSEP11 023Dropped off across the street from the main ticket booth area, $8 later and I can check another ballpark of the list to visit. Standing in an area along the third base side of the field, there is an unmistakable warm and positive energy in the home of The Defending American League Champions.

This is not my first time being in Dallas on the anniversary of 9-11 and in a few minutes I have bittersweet memories of previously being here. As we observe a moment of silence for the victims of that tragic day, you can almost hear a pin drop in the stadium filled with thousands.



“The Colors Of The United States Of America” is presented by members of the US Coast Guard and “The Star Spangled Banner” is solemnly echoed across the ballpark as a huge flag is unfolded down on the field. Like others, I have a sense that Texans are proud to be Americans and show the uttermost respect for those that serve our country. In this regard, I share their thoughts and feelings.

The AL Defending Champions are introduced and it is not long before the fans are cheering on their favorites.

“Let's Go Rangers, Let's Go Rangers”


SAMSEP11 028The Cleveland Indians are facing two opponents tonight and unfortunately for them, one of the opponents has a powerful friend with the right moves in their corner. As I am standing watching the excitement, I get a jolt as none other than “The King” brushes pass me. Elvis is a Rangers fan. Soon Elvis and his entourage are into a “Whoop There It Is” dance and now I know the Indians are really in trouble.

I know you have heard many things are “BIG” in TEXAS and you can have my word that at least when it comes to corn dogs that is certainly true. In fact, I am told by one fan, “It darn took almost twenty minutes to make this thing”.



One of the nice things for me in visiting ballparks is collecting baseball hats when they are not too expensive. An interesting opportunity presents itself for me to do so when I participate in a Rangers charity donation spin the wheel contest. I know you would not believe me if I told you, but I won me two hats. Now that's almost the nicest thing anyone has done for me at a ballpark.

“Cotton Candy, Cotton Candy Here”. No Cheese On It,.. Just Sweets For Your Sweet, I am told as I interact and video tape one of the stadium workers performing an entertaining routine.

“Cotton Candy, Cotton Candy Here”.

Somewhere in all of this excitement and entertainment a baseball game is going on. A little CSI deduction from the crowd's reaction and you do not even need to look at the scoreboard, you know the Rangers are winning. Night has fallen over the ballpark and I discovered another interesting thing about Texas. The stars are also “BIG” and bright deep in the heart of Texas.

Into the sixth inning the game takes an exciting twist that has the fans booing. A few minutes later our attention is drawn to the fact that the previous play is under review. This gives all the baseball “experts” including myself the chance to display and voice our expert opinions about the matter.


SAMSEP11 034Finally, the decision comes down and a short burst of fireworks explodes above center field. What was initially ruled a double is overturned into a Rangers Home Run. However, this is not the best part of the decision. This occurred during a “Promotional Inning” and now all the fans in the ballpark are going to get a “Free Crunchy Taco” from Taco Bueno.

As if to join in the celebration soon a few Texas Legends are racing around the field. Dave Crockett, Jim Bowie and Sam Houston can really move.



I am not sure if this is a regular part of Rangers tradition and it would not surprise me if it was. Once again, I feel honored that I am here as a tribute is made to the men and women of our Armed Services at home and around the world.

Regardless of your religious belief or political persuasion, I imagine it would be difficult to not be touched in some way by this tribute and the singing of “God Bless America”.

It's “The 7th Inning Stretch” and the crowd is just as excited about the game as they were in the 1st inning. As if the 34,765 fans needed anymore encouragement or bonding, soon we are all singing about “Minnnie The Moocher”.

Hidehidehidehi, Hodehodehodeho, Hedehedehedehe.

The Indians make a run for it in the last innings but after a few of their pitchers are given “The Texas Boot”, the Rangers finish them off 6-4.


SAMSEP11 030I guess they finally figured it out, “Don't Mess With Texas”.









Thursday, September 13, 2012

Texas. Root, Root For The Astros


Thanks to a “Fun Flight” on Southwest Airlines, I arrive at Houston Hobby airport about 45 minutes before the first pitch is scheduled to be thrown at Minute Maid Park in downtown Houston. Although this is a tight schedule, I will still complete one of my ongoing missions to visit every Major League Baseball Park in the country.

Following the signs for “Ground Transportation”, I find the local bus stop and wait for Bus No. 88 to arrive. Preparing to put $2.00 in the fare meter, I am asked by the bus driver, “Don't you have a quarter?” I respond “No” and unexpectedly get a discount. Instead of paying the $1.25 bus fare or $26 for a taxi, I am headed to downtown Houston for a buck.

Arriving in downtown, I exit Bus No.88 near Stop One. From here it is about a ten block walk to the stadium, less than twenty minutes.


SAMSEP11 053Starving after a long day of work and travel, my prayers are answered by a neon sign across an empty parking lot. My introduction to downtown Houston is complete with a slice of pizza loaded with pepperoni, sausage and vegetables from Franks Pizza.

With just the right amount of grease, it is delicious.




From a few blocks away I can hear the excitement of the game already underway inside the stadium. A quick stop at the Left Field Ticket Booth and for US$5.00 I have just bought myself entertainment for the next two to three hours.


SAMSEP11 020Minute Maid Park is a modern stadium with a retractable dome that comes in pretty handy especially during the months of July and August when it is “Texas Hot”. Tonight it is open as it is a beautiful and cool evening to watch balls and strikes under the lights.

Although the stadium is practically empty the crowd is still enthusiastic even if the majority of them are Cubs fans. This is not good for the Astros who are struggling with the bats.





SAMSEP11 032Minute Maid Park


However, there are still a few hometown favorites that get their share of applause and appreciation from the Astro fans.

Not a sport to watch for everyone but one of the things I like about baseball is the pace at which it moves. With no time limit, excitement in the game usually comes in short burst. A double play, strike out or home-run always energizes the crowd then it may be minutes or not until the next inning or two that something exciting happens.


SAMSEP11 027In the meantime, you can enjoy great “Tums Qualified”stadium food, a sip or two of a cold drink or the distinctive solicitation of one of the many hard working stadium vendors.

“Popcorn, here, Popcorn!” “Ice Cold, Beer!”







SAMSEP11 012The Kiss Cam


If the game itself is not entertaining enough for you then the other stadium offerings like “The Kiss Cam” or “Air Guitar” will be sure to bring laughter or the faintest of smiles.

Time for the “The 7th Inning Stretch” and the Astros can really use the motivation as they are still trailing the Cubs. I guess they have had their share of:

“It's 1,2, 3 Strikes, You're Out!”

Or maybe they are just showing the Cubs some Texas hospitality by letting them win.

I get my share of Texas hospitality at the Fan Accommodation booth where I am given a “First Time Visitor” certificate.


SAMSEP11 033This brings a smile to my face and I feel like a five year old kid, “Deep In The Heart Of Texas”. 

Maybe a hat and boots are next.

Thanks, Astros!