USA: Texas

The day after visiting Denver we started the longest drive of the trip, Denver to Dallas with a one night stop over at a small country Texan town with convenient free camping. We had first enquired at the local campground and RV park but weren’t given the warmest welcome. The owner barely looked up from what he was doing when we walked through the door of his caravan-office. He looked confused when we asked for a camping spot and supposed we could have one if we really wanted but assured us that we were better off camping in the park down the road. Not wanting to overstay our welcome, we eventually found this park and set up camp. It didn’t have the functioning toilets and showers that we were looking for, but it did the trick for one night.

Its fitting that the freight train is in the background

There wasn’t much of interest on the way to Dallas, just miles and miles of long straight roads filled with trucks. There are small oil rigs everywhere in Texas and they seem to be privately owned. The crude oil goes into big tanks near the rig and gets picked up by trucks and taken to refineries. Every second backyard seemed to have their own personal oil rig, often painted with bright cartoon designs to make them seem more friendly.

Double Whammy: Oil rig and petrol station

A lot of the towns we passed through seemed semi abandoned. In many towns, all the buildings along the main street were boarded up.

Dallas
Just before we left Australia we watched a series about the John F. Kennedy assassination which made us even more keen to visit Dallas (why else would you go?). We visited the JFK museum which is in the Texas Book Depository building where Lee Harvey Oswald shot at the president…or did he? He probably did, but according to the museum he definitely did. The museum did mention a few of the main conspiracy theories but not in as much depth as it mentioned JFK’s great achievements.

The book depository in all its glory!

The gift shop was a weird experience. I’m not sure if I want to buy a postcard, mug or a fridge magnet reminding me of an assination. We did buy a mug called the “Democrat’s Dream” however. It has a map of the US with the blue and red states on it. When you pour a hot beverage into it the red states all turn blue. We found it quite amusing.

The grassy knoll

Lots of conspiracy theory crazies wandering around the grassy knoll. The wooden fence is a reconstruction!

A nice JFK quote
Lee Harvey Oswald’s view from the book depository. If you look closely you can see two white crosses that show where JFK was positioned when each shot was fired.

There were other things to do in Dallas that did not involve presidential assassination however, medieval things!

How could we resist?

We had a great night of watching falconry, live sword fights, jousting and the thing where horses do tricks (horsery?). You eat with your hands, a fact that only became apparent to us when we realised that nobody else in the arena had cutlery either and the waiter didn’t just forget about us.

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Austin
Austin was one of our favourite cities in the US and therefore like all our favourite cities we didn’t take many photos as we were having too much fun. Austin is a very hipster, trendy, young person city from what we could see. There was an abundance of music festivals, breweries and trendy bars and cafes. Don’t know what it is doing in the middle of Texas. We got to swim in a swimming pool made from damming a river fed from a spring. It was really cold but the fresh water is amazing in the stifling Texas heat.

We would have loved to stay for longer than one day but we needed to move on. Move on down yet another dual carriageway road with lanes at different heights and no warning signs or visible roadworks aiming to fix it.

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Luling

On the way to Houston we had the pleasure of passing through the small town of Luling while their annual watermelon festival or “thump” as they like to call it happen to be in full swing. The day begins with massive road closures and traffic chaos for a watermelon themed parade through the streets where we saw what appeared to be a Texan couple pulled on chariots by ponies. Since no one else was laughing, I think this wasn’t supposed to be a joke…

The next part of the day involved various events such as prize-winning watermelon auctions, record breaking seed spitting competitions and stalls that sold beer brewed with watermelon.

One of the watermelon pavillions
The purpose-built watermelon seed spitting shed.

Houston
We went to Houston for one reason: the NASA space center.

The shed housing the full size restored Saturn 5 rocket and some space cows.

We visited the new mission control center where all the new NASA projects will be controlled from. This wasn’t the “we have a problem” room (that was next door being used) but it is the new mission control where all new problems with the Mars mission will be had.  We could only see the original mission control through a camera feed on a TV screen.

The new NASA mission control center

Next stop: Louisiana and the Mississippi.

 

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