Friday, May 21, 2010

I have been to Mecca and I have seen God

...or would you believe the Stockyards and a rat on a cat on a dog? It was a sight so unbelievable as to pull the tourists who came for the cattle drive, the civil war buffs talking to Wild Bill Hiscock, and country western fans gathered around the yodeling elderly couple. Seriously, how often do you get to see a rat on a cat on a dog?

The Forth Worth Stockyards are pretty cool, a combination of old west town, rodeo honky tonk, kitcky shops and a great bar full of stuffed armadillos, bears, buffaloes, skunks and wildcats. Every day at 11:00 and 4:00 there is also a long horn cattle drive down the main street. Which is probably the height of slow motion fun. But all this action aside, it is probably the rat, cat, dog combination that will stay with me the most.

I tried to upload the video to YouTube but for some reason it won't go. So I figured, hey, something like that, chances are someone else has uplaoded it. And that's when I discovered this guy and his act are National heroes! They've been all over the country and have pulled from more than cattle drives and the video has had 5,981,583 views.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Fort Worth Water Garden - The next thing to being there

Being in the Desert Canyons of Arizona and Utah with the wide open sky above, the warm, skin-melting air all around, and a miraculous waterfall before you is one of the most wonderful experiences. But, if you can't be there, and you happen to be in Forth Worth the Water Garden is a great place to be; almost like being there.

Constructed of brown pebbly concrete, water everywhere, and selective plantings the Water Garden is a man-designed desert oasis. The conference I'm attending has sessions split between two hotels, each located on opposite sides of the Water Garden. Some times, I suspect, I selected a session just to have the excuse to walk through the Garden. Yesterday I took a little longer and shot a video by the "Active Pool" which, hopefully goes some little way to sharing the experience.

This morning I woke up early and spent some time by the quiet pool, which honestly is my favorite of the three pools. Composed of a large, shallow pool surrounded by Cyprus trees and contained within the peddled concrete walls, it reminds me of Calf Creek Falls in Utah. It's rare when a man-made place invokes in me, a feeling of restfulness and connection like this one. The photos just don't do it justice.

The designer of the park, Phillip Johnson, also designed the Glass House in New Caanan, CT as well as many other master works of architecture.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

You Know You're in Texas - the full, illustrated edition

  1. The SUV is the economy car
  2.  A fellow librarian is referred to as "the sweetest piece of sunshine"
  3. Storefront signs inform you that the unlicensed possession of a gun is against the law. (But guns in general are just fine.)
  4. There is Tequila in the Sangria
  5. No one knows that the bus actually does run from your hotel to the stockyard and they insist you must take a cab
  6. There is a stockyard
  7. The local bar (excuse me - honky tonk) has an indoor rodeo
  8. The TV doesn't have PBS (and you can't watch the show on Whaling)
  9. You just watched an Armadillo race - and the winner won a can of Armadillo milk
  10. You're encouraged to "ride a horse, save a cowboy"
  11. Fried okra is served at least once a day 
  12. The enchiladas taste like heaven!

Sunday, May 09, 2010

The Neon Lights of Fort Worth

Fort Worth isn't what I expected. In a number of ways - but for now I just want to talk about neon signs. In 1923, the French company Claude Neon,introduced neon gas signs to the United States, by selling two to a Packard car dealership in Los Angeles. From that time the use of neon signs grew until reaching its peak in the 1960s, at which time popular taste turned against it and most were destroyed. . What was once "liquid fire" was soon considered harsh and trashy and were trashed.

But for some reason, there are quiet a few in Fort Worth, and while I too was in the trashy camp, the ones here in Fort Worth are actually pretty cool.

Inn Hiking in Vermont and New Hampshire

A friend asked me to recommend some Inns that would be great places from which to hike. Knowing that the minute I sent the list, I'd remember another one, I thought it best to make a webpage (i.e. blog post), and if you know of some that should be added, please do!

Coming in at #1 is The Inn at Long Trail, Killington, Vermont. Aside from the fact that the inn is a great place to stay, the inn-keepers are really helpful, and the location is easy to get to, it is right in the cross-roads of some great trails. Just North of the Inn the Long Trail and the AT meet up (or diverge - depending on your direction). Hiking to the South on the AT takes you up to Killington Mountain for some really spectacular views.

The Inn at Long Trail also offers services for Thru-Hikers. During the season there are lots around - just in case you want a little inspiration for making that trip yourself, or if you just want to hear some good stories.

Cardigan Lodge - located in New Hampshire at the base of Cardigan Mountain, is another good hiking base. Run by the Appalachian Mountain Club has two private rooms, in addition to two bunk house. It may be a little rustic, but the food is good (they'll even pack your lunch for the trail) and the hiking is great!

Along the same lines, but on a bigger scale is the AMC's Highland Center. There are some really great trails nearby. To the North is a great hike up Mount Pierce and Mount Jackson.

Back to Vermont - A friend recommended the Blueberry Hill Inn. I've never been but the location is good. There are lots of trails in the area and...Robert Frost lived for a time in nearby Ripton, VT.