Deep in the Heart of Texas: Road School Results
I went to Texas, searching for something. I was searching for an answer. An answer to a guiding question I posed on my very first Road School post. And that question was:
How much of the mystique of Texas culture is fact? How much is fiction?
To be honest, I was expecting to find little of what I would consider stereotypical Texas…charm. I assumed all of that was Hollywood fantasy (I was wrong). To be even more honest, I was expecting to find little time to even answer the question, busy as I was, working. But I’m happy to report back that no only did I find a little time to explore on my own, I also got a great taste of the culture and the charm–yes, charm is the word–even while working.
What I Did
My first trip to Texas was a short trip–only four nights, and three work-filled days. I stayed in a little town I’d never heard of before–Grapevine, Texas–because, well, that’s what work told me to do. Grapevine is an absolutely adorable little town, unsurprisingly known for its aviation history, attached as it is to the grounds of the Dallas Fort Worth airport. There are also actual wine-producing grape vines, which I encountered one afternoon a bit lost, trying to get back to the hotel from the highway with only my iPhone GPS to guide me.
During my visit, I managed to:
-Spend a couple of hours on the afternoon of my arrival walking around downtown Grapevine, window shopping, and having a (very) late lunch at a cute little spot called Big Fish.
-Chat with an absolutely lovely bartender slash restaurant manager at a chain restaurant near my hotel (I didn’t eat there, I swear! Ok–maybe I had one appetizer. It was happy hour!)
-Enjoy at proper bowl of chili and a Beatles cover band at a neat little bar and live music venue, also in ‘downtown’ Grapevine.
-Drive to Fort Worth for some boot shopping, saloon hopping, and steak-eating.
What I Found
As I walked around–and drove around–and searched for typically-Texas scenes well…I found them. From store windows to restaurant vestibules, I found boots and cowboy hats. There really are a lot of big-ass trucks in Texas; there are many trains. And most bartenders will look at you funny if you, like me, ask for a glass of Cabernet (or, in the case of my dear friend and coworker, Belvedere and soda water, two limes. Sorry sweetie, LA this is not) but you can always order a bottle of Lone Star Beer.
I documented My Quest for Texas: The Myth and the Reality on Instagram; for those of you who are not (yet) addicted to Instagram, here are my results…
…yes, there are a lot of Texas-y things in texas, from cattle skulls hung festively over stages strewn with banners proudly touting ‘hot chili, cold beer’, to rows and rows and rows of beautiful, mostly-made-in-Texas 100% leather boots (of course I bought a pair–have you met me?) From water towers to the front porches of honest-to-goodness general stores, this is the Texas I was looking for.
But most of all, the thing that struck me most was this: the people. The people of Texas really are incredibly welcoming. From the bartender at Joe’s Crab Shack and the waiter at Big Fish, both of whom shook my actual hand, to the valet in Fort Worth–from a hotel at which I was not staying–who walked out into the street to help me cross with absolutely no prompting from me, I met more kindhearted people than I’m pretty sure exist in the entirety of the northeast. Apparently we really are pretty huge jerks. At least comparatively.
Of course, it would hardly be fair to categorize all of this second-largest state in the union based on one visit to only two different towns–Grapevine and Fort Worth. Which, along with the wonderful people, is why I will be returning. To San Antonio. And Amarillo. And a Galveston. And Waco and Dallas and a little town called San Angelo that I’d not previously heard of but apparently has a bordello tour and freshwater pearl diving.
Yes, Texas is big. And, apparently, incredibly diverse. I can’t wait to return and explore more. Stay tuned!
Disclosure Statement: While I was not hosted on this trip in any way, I was traveling for business and thus was reimbursed for my lodging and car rental by my employer. I’m not sure if this is the kind of thing that needs to be disclosed, but hey, I’m all about honesty! And honestly–I can’t believe what an amazing time I had on a business trip.