Our next and final destination was to be Austin. We arrived at lunch and planned to stay for one night as we needed to be closer to the airport for our final night.
“Keep Austin Wierd” intrigued me the most. I wanted to know what exactly made Austin have this reputation! As we drove in, down 6th street, I noticed many bars, places to eat and small gift shops. They didn’t look ‘wierd’ but they went on and on for a good half mile if not more.
We knew that we wanted to visit Big Bend National Park, but we also knew that it was a very long drive to get there. We decided to split the drive with a stop in San Angelo, described in the guide book as another small town oozing with history and character. We drove into the centre and saw many antique shops but no hotels. We found a guest house but we did not want to be guests there as it looked very dodgy! We also found the listed 14 story Cactus hotel but it seemed old and quite dilapidated. We tried all doors to the Cactus and we couldn’t get in.
There was one more place to try which sounded quite odd in the guide book but we went to check it out anyway. I mean, who would want to stop at an old chicken farm with converted silo’s???
Driving down to the farm was tight and we couldn’t see anyone about. Camilla and I got out and tried to find an office. The courtyard was lined with lanterns, stone statues and small art studios. I was very intrigued. We spotted that one studio still had a light on so we crept in and shouted for someone. No answer. No one to be seen apart from a human sized cardboard box with a hole in the side that was labelled “do not look inside”. We didn’t look inside but stepped out of the studio to be faced with a bearded young man with no shoes on. He immediately asked if we were looking in his studio and wanted to know if we had looked in the box. I don’t think he believed us when we said that we hadn’t. W explained that we wanted a place to stay and he led us to a small house at the back. Bearing in mind that it was nearly 8pm, we both thought that we wouldn’t be stopping here and we would be sent on our travels.
A lady came to see us and as we started to talk, our accent made more of an impression than we did. She got the keys to the rooms she had left and led us to see them. I was impressed from the moment we stepped through the door to the room. Needless to say, we accepted both rooms.
We stayed in the French room. Susan described this as her family memory room, with her husband’s childhood bed frame, her grandmother’s sewing table and her great grandmother’s needlework.
Check out the Inn at the Chicken Farm Art Centre.
Definitely worth a visit if you are in this area.
Keep a look out for another blog on this place once I have got home and taken photos off the camera 🙂
We headed to Fort Worth after Big D and made our way to the Stockyards. Several people we had met on our travels had recommended this place to us but we didn’t really know what it was.
It was definitely worth the wait. This was the Texas that I wanted to see.
The concreted roads turned into bricks, the shops were cladded with wood, steakhouses were advertising with models of farmyard animals stuck to their shop fronts and there was a real rodeo stadium.
We found an interesting hotel, where we had a fight with a cockroach as we were getting ready.
Cattlemans steakhouse was our food provider for the night. I had two huge pork chops, which again I didn’t finish and Adam had a succulent steak; probably the best we have ever had. The drinks were not in glasses but in large bowls. I won’t say too much but some us left more merrier than others!
In the morning we scouted the original antiques shops and art galleries. One shop I particular had a lot of taxidermy and furniture made out of all sorts.
I bought a few photo postcards and a small vintage texas star.
At half past 11 (weather dependent), there is a cattle drive through the main road of the stockyards. These are not just any old cattle though, each horn was as big as me. There were even real cowboys and cowgirls directing the cattle through the town.
Shops had taken their standings in the old stockyard. We bought some meat rubs and then went for pulled pork sandwich. A real Texan experience was had by all!
Before heading off on our road trip, we walked 5 minutes down the road to a shop we had seen the previous day. This was an antiques store, but a very interesting antiques store. On the front stood a battered old Amish cart, alongside vintage drinks crates and planters made from corrugated steel. It looked like a treasure cove waiting to be explored.
We eagerly waited for the owner to open up and we edged in. There were many items that we could have bought for the house but couldn’t as we wouldn’t be able to get them back the UK without major cost. Around every corner, there was something waiting to be picked up and thought about. I find it odd to think that all of the stuff in the store has a history. Where has it been? What has it been used for? Who did it belong to? Some items creeped me out a lot, you will see why when I upload more pictures, but for now, here’s a couple to keep you intrigued!
After filling our faces with the breakfast from Sara’s (eggs, fresh fruit, muffins, waffles, toast!!), we jumped on the number 50 and headed into a misty Downtown Houston.
We started to wander around and look for something to do. Our obvious first choice was to head for the shops, however we couldn’t find any! I seemed to get the feeling that Houston is more of a business city as wherever we walked, there just seemed to be offices upon offices upon offices. We then saw signs for the network of underground tunnels, which pretty much link all of the main buildings. Again, very few shops were in the tunnels but they were jammed with places to eat! Once the cities lunch hour started the tunnels were heaving with city slickers…once the lunch hour was over, the tunnels were quiet. Very bizarre!
However, the lack of shops didn’t stop us exploring Houston. We walked through a lovely small park, tried to find Chinatown, tried to walk in Sam Houston park (it was closed) and tried to visit a couple of museums (they also close on Mondays!). Even though we didn’t have a list of things we had ‘seen’ and ‘done’, I had still enjoyed exploring the other parts that not everyone might go to. We also walked about 4 miles and I got pink shoulders!
We headed back to Houston Heights but got off our bus further up the road so that we could wander around the neighbourhood. To be honest, I got more satisfaction wandering around these parts than the city. We found an old thrift store and a couple of interesting antique furniture shops. The thing I loved the most, and I am beginning to see this in most places that we visit, is the contrast in culture and architecture as you walk along one street. There are huge Victorian mansions which look like they are part of a movie set….and then there are small wooden shack houses that have great personality and character; a real mix of American culture.