Austin lies about three hours south of Fort Worth, smack in the center of the state of Texas. The city is known for it’s booming music scene and off-beat shops and restaurants. It’s also the Texas State Capitol, despite it’s oddly un-Texas feel. We took a little road trip to Austin to do some exploring.
One of the city’s natural gemsÃ³Barton Springs Pool in Zilker ParkÃ³gave us a chance to cool off after a long drive before checking out Austin’s urban offerings.
At the heart of the city’s downtown, Facilitator Hilary Marshall took in some decidedly UN-natural sights at "The Museum of the Weird" on 6th Street (too creepy for co-facilitator Rachel Falcone). One of the last remaining Dime/Sideshow Museums, it’s home to many unexplained (aka. fake) phenomena and curiosities, of which this two headed chicken (below) is a classic example.
We also made our monetary contributions to the Austin economy. Unique vintage and antique shops abound in Austin, making it feel more like home for us (Chicago/Brooklyn) than anywhere we’d been in a long while. But Texas staples are never far–Austinites can still saddle you up with a good pair of cowboy boots.
As the self-proclaimed Live Music Capitol of the World, Austin’s many venues offer live music every night of the week. We ended our day at the top-floor Gallery of the Continental Club in Austin’s SoCo neighborhood, where we caught the sweet sound of Ephraim Owens blowing his horn.
We couldn’t have imagined the large role that livestock would play in our daily lives during our time in Ft. Worth, TX. We can’t step outside without running into some sort of creature!
This is one of the few urban places where folks can still ride a horse through the streets, so in addition to the cowboys in period costumes employed by the Stockyards (pictured above), there are ordinary citizens who bring their horses to the neighborhood for a stroll. There’s even a man who’ll let you sit on his longhorn steer and snap a photo (for a few bucks…).
Black and white Guinea Hens peck the grass near the Stockyards Livery, where the rooster hides in the shade. The Livery is just steps away from the MobileBooth and is home to many of the horses and steer that perform each day during the cattle drive.
The twice-a-day cattle drive is the Ft. Worth Stockyards’ main attraction. Longhorn cattle live up to their name, with expansive horns measuring up to 120 inches from tip to tip.
They sometimes pass within inches of the booth, but they’re very polite and never interrupt the recording process. When we’re looking for something a little rowdier, we visit the rodeo across the street at the Cowtown Coliseum, which celebrated it’s 100th year this month. Weekend events include bull and bronco ridin’, calf ropin’, and barrel racin’, none of which are for the faint of heart.
The Dickie’s Giant welcomes visitors to the Texas State Fair, the largest in the country! Everything at the fair is done up big, especially the two most important: food and rides.
Almost any food is better fried (by Texas standards), and we saw signs for everything from fried mac and cheese to deep-fried Oreos. This year’s top contenders included fried cookie dough, zesty fried guacamole bites, deep fried latte, country fried peach cobbler on a stick, fried banana pudding, and fried frito chili burrito.
Facilitator Hilary Marshall threw dietary caution to the wind and tried this years hands-down favorite: Mama’s Fried Sweet Potato Pie.
After eating our way through the fair, we hopped on North America’s largest ferris wheel to get a better view of the fairgrounds. We were reminded, once again, that everything’s bigger in Texas. Yee-haw!
Opening day in Fort Worth, TX, came complete with cowboys in period dress, a staple of the Historic Stockyards District where MobileBooth West has parked for the month. Here in "Cowtown," StoryCorps will share the cobblestone street with a twice daily longhorn cattle drive and throngs of tourists curious about the Old West.
A particularly knowledgeable cowboy named Rocky (above) stopped to give an impromptu lecture on the history of the cattle trade, which kept our first Fort Worth participants, Shirlynn McGee and her granddaughter Janeisha, entertained while they completed their paperwork.
Ms. McGee came to MobileBooth West to talk about her struggles with diabetes and how a local program through the United Way has helped to educate her about health and nutrition. Janeisha chimed in about the importance of eating your vegetables, which are now her favorite foods. They both enjoy exercise and love to help family and neighbors make healthy lifestyle choices.
Many thanks to KERA, Dalls/Ft. Worth’s local NPR affiliate, for hosting a successful opening day. Thanks also to the United Way and The Stockyards Station.