I have visited Texas before, twice in fact. The first time I was a baby, and the second I was 5. Needless to say, that although I do have fond memories of my second visit, I had never done much exploring of the state. James had never been and was very excited to be in a Cowboy Country and the state that everything is indeed bigger; be it roads, land, cars, guns or meals.
The majority of my extended American family live in Fortworth, Texas, and whilst we were lucky enough to all get together last year for a family reunion (for the first time in 16 years!) they are not all family that I often see, nor keep in touch with too well so it was amazing to spend some time with them on their own turf and be shown the local activities – eateries, bars and much to James’ delight, the gun range.
My Uncle Graham and Auntie Es looked after us for our first few days and assured that we got home safely form the airport and that we were well fed in the following days. James had looked into gun ranges whilst we were in Vegas but as soon as the topic came up in front of Graham he and James got into a talk all about guns and laws that I didn’t understand and he offered to take us to show us the ropes at the gun range near his house! I had never fired a gun before, and to be honest I was terrified! I learnt how to load and unload a couple of different ones and had plenty of tries at hitting a target. For me, most were misses, although with a bit of practice I got better and did hit the bullseye! James was petty consistent and got plenty of good shots, and as for Graham – I wouldn’t want to be trespassing on his property that’s for sure!
Graham and Es left us for a holiday to Costa Rica, and so James and I took ourselves on a small road trip. There was an issue with our first rental car, and when we took it back all they had was a Dodge Charger, so the long weekend started off pretty well especially for the boy racer! In case you don’t know, it’s a sports car that we don’t get in England and quite a nice one at that – I didn’t know until we drove one but I was quite a fan of the model by the time the day came to return it.
After a three hour drive from Fortworth we arrived in Austin. We had been getting used to the heat on our few days in Fortworth, but it hadn’t prepared us well at all! A short walk from the outskirts of the city into the centre to see the sights had us sweating, melting, and searching desperately for air conditioning and fluids!
The city was a backpacker and a students dream. Quirky and liberal and full of a mixture of people of all ages and styles. I could have spent a lot more than two days exploring the area and meeting fun people.
The evening saw us waiting for sunset so we could see the bats take their nightly flight. Hundreds of people lined the banks of the river and the bridge that the bats lived under, but there were several hundred bats that emerged after a long wait. The sight was quite impressive, the smell however was not. Sadly there are no photos because the greyish bats against the dusky sky didn’t give the best visibility to the eye, let alone the camera. Side story: I got sworn at and given “the finger” by a mean man dressed in Batman gear.
After a long day exploring we went back to our accommodation; half hostel, half homestay. We stayed with a guy who had turned the spare rooms of his house into dormitories with handmade bunk beds, funky tapestries and colourful curtains. It was pretty impressive actually, and for the area the price was very reasonable. More than that, he was super friendly and had lots of helpful tips for things to see, places to go and even better how best to get there and when! He had a cute little chihuahua too that he had rescued after he watched someone throw it from a car window but the dog wasn’t quite as friendly as he was and either growled and barked at us or ran and hid. I didn’t take it personally as she did it to all the guests!
The next morning we got up bright and early and went to the outdoor gallery. I’m not entirely sure how it started, but the site was a beautiful collection of not only colour but also diversity and acceptance. Each display was in a different style and reflected the individual that had painted it. We wandered between the walls in the cool morning air before grabbing some breakfast and heading to our next destination.
San Antonio was only just over an hour further South. The weather was just as beautiful, and the people just as nice. The city itself was a large step away from quirky Austin, however it was very picturesque, particularly down by the river.
And the main purpose of our visit was to see the historic Church The Alamo. A pinnacle in the history of Texas and its independence from Mexico, the building stands today as a tourist attraction but a popular one at that! And it’s free to go on Sundays, so we worked that out perfectly.
After a long Memorial Day weekend, we headed back to Fortworth (via a mammoth fossil) and where my Aunt and Uncle had returned from their trip to England to visit my Granny! As well as visit Dallas to see the spot President Kennedy was shot from, we spent plenty of time hanging with the relatives.
Of all my overseas relatives, My Auntie Joy (who I’m named after!) and Uncle John are the two we see most often as they come across the sea to us on a near yearly basis. That said, it was so wonderful to stay with them in their area and get to spend a week with them rather than a fleeting visit at home. We had so much fun and I was so sad to leave, but plenty of wonderful memories were made to add to our growing collection.
We visited The Stockyards again to get a further taste of cowboy life. James and I had already been once before our road trip and had accidentally eaten bulls testicles – and not even raised until two days later. We made sure not to repeat that experience and opted to get up close to them in a different way.
We went to the house they lived at when I last visited, that the family still own, and now keep goats on – to my delight.
There were tears on my part at the airport (not terribly unusually for me) but my Aunt has recently got the hang of online messaging so I’m hopeful we can chat more often in the future! Thank you so much for having us Auntie Joy and Uncle John; both James and I would love to come back again soon, and I sincerely hope we see you even sooner – miss you already.