Deep in the Heart of Texas, Part II: Food, Frivolity, Freedoms, and Frontage Roads

Part I had us digging into Texas from a size, sounds, sites and overall silliness perspective. There is a lot of all four categories, and I tried to hit what I could given where I took my Texas trek. Could have there been more? I did not reach Dallas and Dallas is an article all its own. Okay, time to move on to Part II.

Food

Barbecue – all of it is good, some of it is pretty good and some of it is excellent. If they ask you if you want your brisket “lean” or “moist” say lean. Moist means more fat. I went to a few places, one of which was the Harris County Smokehouse. It’s main claim to fame is you can order breakfast all day with your barbecue – “Only In Texas!”… except when you can’t. The night I went I got there about 2 hours before their closing time. All they had left was what was on hand as the cooks closed the kitchen. What? Yeah. Closed it down. Harris County Smokehouse became cafeteria style so you told them what you wanted and they slapped onto a dish or into a bowl. No eggs, no waffles, no pancakes as those all cannot be pre-cooked well. So, no 7PM breakfast. Not that I was going to do it anyway, I wasn’t. I was able to get brisket and chicken and two sides… but they were running out of sides. I looked at the server, looked at what they had left and said to myself “shit…” then said to the server, “I’ll take the boiled (GAAAAACK) brussels sprouts” then quickly added, “wait… is that peach cobbler a side?” With a twinkle on her eye (it was “on” as she had glitter caking her eyelids) “It is tonight.” Damn fine woman!

The best barbecue I had I was used to having and knew it would be good. I drove from San Antonio after my Alamo and River Walk experiences (see Part I) to salvage most of the day via a heaping plate at Salt Lick Barbecue in the Hill Country. Lean brisket, pulled pork, some spicy sauce, tater salad (it’s not potato in Texas), coleslaw, and sweet tea and I was good.

After that I had a day drink called a Firecracker at the Fang & Feather located on the grounds of the Wizard Academy, a place worthy of its own article someday. It was tremendously satisfying, and I have no idea what was in it. I’m not much of a drinker but from what I hear these guys have tremendous whiskey and, at the time they started it, were the only crowdsourced whiskey distiller in America. Look them up at Crowded Barrel Whiskey Company.

Many many Whiskeys, Cigars, and Watch Your Step signs

Frivolity

Texans love their football. Whoo doggie there are massive stadiums all over the place, including for high school football. Yep, high school football. It’s plain crazy. However, let’s leapfrog to the pro teams. Houston had the Oilers who moved to be the Tennessee Titans then got the Texans. They have never won a thing. Then we have the Dallas Cowboys, AKA “America’s team.” America’s team? Really? Well, if you look at it they do go on quick streaks of being great and then they go long stretches of not winning a damn thing so “America’s Team” kind of makes sense.

More sports frivolity? Baseball. Texas Rangers, 2x losers of the World Series. Houston Astros? 2x losers of the World Series… and they cheated to win the one they did so technically 3x losers of the World Series. I know, I mentioned this in Part I but cheatin’ merits another mention.

This cannon at the Alamo will probably be moved to Minute Maid Park so the Astros can have a louder sound when a fastball isn’t coming.

And more? Texas has more pro championships in basketball (6) than they do football (5). As for hockey, they have one Stanley Cup victory, but no one cares.

Freedoms

Freedoms includes lack thereof and Texas history has got it good. When the state decided it wanted entry as an official state into the union, the Missouri Compromise was in effect and therefore no slaves could be above the 36°30’ latitude. Texas wanted to be entered into the union as a slave state. Therefore, this strip of land became what was known as “No Man’s Land” until Oklahoma took it, which is why Oklahoma is roughly the shape of a Jiffy Pop popcorn held upside down. I know I just dated myself and I do not care.
Dated is key here. Texas got wind the Civil War was over, the South lost and the Emancipation Proclamation was set in stone. However, they effectively kept it their own little secret for 2 more years until federal troops arrived in Galveston to take control of the state and make certain the still-enslaved people got their freedom. That was the short version of Juneteenth. There’s more here.

Plus, freedoms ain’t freedoms without guns. Based upon the ton of billboards seen on this Texas trek, the Uvalde tragedy has not slowed the Texas populations zeal for guns. Lots of Second Amendment folks out there still shouting the Demon-Crats are coming to take yer gunz! I saw more than one big-ass truck with such sentiment plastered all over their bumper and windows.

Frontage Roads

First, Texas has a lot of 3 and 4-level highways. There’s a crap-ton of concrete being utilized for roadways in this state. Good gravy. Second, most of Texas has a highway system where a side road – the frontage road – runs alongside the actual highway. Granted, Colorado has these as well but they are not nearly as sophisticated as Texas. In Colorado they are literally so close to the actual highway you’ll see dirt tracks running to them from the highway in what I call “fuck it” lanes, where when traffic gets bad if you have a 4×4 just say ‘fuck it’ and cut over to the frontage road.
Again, Texas has a more sophisticated frontage road system and it works like this – you see the place you want to get to, pass it and then 2-3 miles down the road you’re able to get off the highway, do a built-in u-turn (AKA “turnaround”) under or over said highway to enable driving back to your chosen spot. If you happen to miss it? No problem, there’s another u-turn spot further on up so you can go back under (or over) the highway, return to your original turnaround and start over again. You could make your own NASCAR race out of it if you want… and based upon the chunks of cars, black tire marks and damaged guardrails people have. This system, by the way, is a nightmare for Google Maps. To make it worse there was a lot of road construction too. My Google Maps virtual woman got so tangled up in the mess she stuttered “head south… head south… head south… head… head… head… head.” I finally released her of her duties and figured it out on my own.

Which BY THE WAY GOOGLE – when someone is not familiar with where they are the first set of directions which inevitably includes a direction – are USELESS. I know not where north is in a strange land like Texas so stop telling me to “head north.” RANT OVER – as is this article y’all.

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