The Lone Star State is not for the Fainthearted
My father is all about the American dream – muscle cars, big burgers, and of course cowboys. Clint Eastwood and John Wayne were regular fixtures in my home when growing up and I loved my toy pistol, my cowboy hat and the play-play spurs I had on my boots (or even on my bare feet sometimes). While I was paging through some old albums, I came across a couple of photos of me doing my best to shoot straight and swagger. I decided: I am going to Texas!
Weird and wonderful Texans
I saddled up my suitcase, roped my Dad in for the trip and took off to the great American South. Although I have spent some time in a few other states in the US, Texas was like another country in comparison. The people were different – slower, friendlier. In fact, they are so friendly that I felt quite uncomfortable at first. That is until I realized that their obvious eye contact and huge smiles do not mean they want to seduce me or sell me something. Besides the people looking and sounding very different, there are some very strange sights to see – and the rodeo is the least of it.
Naturally Dad and I went to a Texas rodeo on our very first day. After an exhilarating day of roping, barrel racing, bucking broncos and beer, we thought we ought to have a more relaxing time the next day exploring the streets of Austin. Little did we know – this would turn out just as thrilling. We started the day looking for some famous chicken fried steak and came across a hot sauce shop named Taste of Joy. As if the previous day’s activities were not exciting enough, father and son decided to give the so-called ‘Hottest Pepper in the World’ a try, the Ghost Pepper. Yes, it was insanely hot. There is a reason why some of the bottles of sauce on the shelves are shaped like coffins! I didn’t know whether I was hot or cold, or whether I had goose bumps or pins and needles. It took about a litre of beer before I felt human again, and no longer radioactive.
Coming from Europe, you have certain expectations of cathedrals and museums. Well, you expect them to be actual cathedrals and museums. We decided to walk the hot sauce and beer off while taking in some local culture. The only cathedral we could find was the Cathedral of Junk and the first museum on our path turned out to be the Museum of the Weird. The Cathedral of Junk is exactly that – junk. A man named Vince Hanneman built towers out of junk like old fridges, bicycles and tyres. Believe it or not, it was quite an interesting experience. One has to wonder what inspired him to start such an odd project. Museum of the Weird was well worth the $12 and the hour it took to see all the bizarre and freaky things like shrunken heads, a cyclops pig, a two-headed calf and a mermaid mummy.
A rip-roaring rodeo of excitement
After all that, Dad and I decided to call it a night with a double helping each of the famous Texas pecan pie. We needed to keep our energy up for the rest of the holiday, which proved to be as eventful as the first two days. A word of advice, if you are planning a trip to Texas, plans a holiday straight after to recover from your trip!