Now that I am taking a vacation from my travels abroad, I thought I would share a bit about my favorite place on this little blue planet, Texas.
“This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” ~ Carleton Young as Maxwell Scott in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
Texas lives as much in the imagination as it does in fact. As a native Texan, I display an almost insufferable pride, in my home state, so I’ll apologize up front. In this entry I’ll try to provide some interesting things to see and do, and a bit of history along the way.
One of my favorite memories of Texas comes from my first trip to Europe in 1983. My high school buddy Ron, and I decided to see a bit of the world after graduation, so we packed out kits and hit the Continent for a couple of months. We were sitting in a little pub in Germany having supper. The live band was blasting, and we could barely hear each other over the music when a guy walks up to our table and asks if we are from Texas. I looked at Ron, and he wasn’t wearing anything proclaiming our nationality, and neither was I. It would have been impossible for the guy to have heard us talking, so I was curious and asked him how he knew. He said, “You eat with bread in your hands like cowboys.” I looked down and sure enough, I had a fork in one hand and a roll in the other. He continued, “I see that in movies, and had to ask.”
We confessed, and he sat down and proceeded to ask us all kinds of questions. The TV show Dallas was in its first run in Europe at the time, and he wanted to know everything about the show. Since he was buying the beer, we were happy to chat with him.
Since that time I have gotten the same treatment from many people in the US and abroad. Oddly enough, the people in the US have more outlandish questions than folks from other places do, so let’s get started.
“It just so happens we be Texicans. Texican is nothing but a human man way out on a limb. This year and next, and maybe for a hundred more. But I don’t think it’ll be forever. Some day this country’s gonna be a fine, good place to be. Maybe it needs our bones in the ground before that time can come.” ~ Olive Carey as Mrs. Jorgensen in The Searchers
October 2, 1835 marks the outbreak of hostilities between the Mexican government, and the former American colonists in the Province of Texas. The original goal of the rebellion is in some historical dispute. Some folks believe the colonists were fighting for a reinstatement of the recently overturned Mexican Constitution of 1824 and not initially fighting for independence. After the massacres at The Alamo (March 6, 1836) and Goliad (March 27, 1836), the tone of the discussion, and crystalized the drive for independence which was won on April 21.1836. At that point Texas became a republic, and God willing, it will be one again.
I would like to explain something very simple that gets lost in the political sewage that pour forth from the media. Native Texans DO NOT hate Hispanics. They are as much a part of what it means to be Texan as cattle and oil. Unfortunately, the Mexican citizens and the Black slaves that fought on the side of the Texans have been glossed over in the history books. The White settlers could not have won their victory without them. The vaqueros who pioneered cattle ranches in this region have also received a short shrift. To these overlooked people, I offer my personal apologies and Thank You for what you did to make this land a great place to live. I hope your story will be told properly someday.
What Texans DO have little tolerance for is law breakers of any stripe, and that is what the illegal immigrants are, pure and simple.
My Mrs. is an immigrant. We went through the unmitigated Hell that is the US Immigration process, and did things all nice and legal. It was hard, the people were officious and intentionally rude in many cases, but we clawed our way through. We’re Texicans. We did what it took and survived. I don’t care where a person comes from. If you come in legally, I’m happy to shake your hand. We’re not anti-immigrant, just anti-criminal.
PLACES TO SEE (or maybe not)
San Antonio – Lovely city. Make sure to take in The Alamo, the Riverwalk, and the Mexican Market. Point of interest: Singer/songwriter Phil Collins recently donated a huge trove of Alamo artifacts from his personal collection to The Alamo. They are to be displayed in the museum.
Austin – Blue collectivist enclave, most Texans would rather box up and ship to New York. Nothing to see her, move along, except maybe, “Hippie Hollow”, the only nudist colony in Texas.
Houston – NASA and the Kennedy Space Center. Fantastic museum of Natural History. Home of the only Consulate of the Russian Federation in the southwest.
Galveston – Ocean front. Galveston Island is famous for its Spring Break tourism. Also ground zero for the Galveston Hurricane that made landfall on September 8, 1900. It was a Category 4 storm with winds of 145mph. 8,000 people lost their lives and the city was just GONE. Still the deadliest storm in US history.
Dallas – Sports teams, museums, arboretum, eclectic dining.
Fort Worth – The Stockyards, downtown cattle drive, Cowboy museum, Kimball Art Museum.
Hill Country – Going south along I-35 close to Austin you come to a region of rocky hills called the Texas Hill Country. Lots of resorts and places to have a nice vacation. Pretty good wine too. This region was settled by German and Czech immigrants, and their roots are reflected in the food and fine beer of the region.
El Paso – “Never a more wretched hive of scum and villainy” Obi-wan could have been talking about El Paso in the 1800s. Infamous gunman John Wesley Hardin was shot in El Paso along with many more desperadoes.
Padre Island – A thin island that runs the length of the south Texas coast line. Miles of nice sandy beaches. The city of South Padre Island is a typical resort town with some decent family entertainment, and the closest thing to surf Texas has.
Big Bend National Park – Camping and hiking in some of the most rugged wilderness in the State.
Bass Fishing – This is a top shelf sport in Texas. Plenty of guides, and place to fish.
Hunting – We’ve got just about anything anyone cares to chase in Texas. This includes feral hogs (Please come shoot some hogs), and exotics imported from other continents.
Texans are reputed to be some of the friendliest people on earth, and I have found that to be pretty close to the truth when compared to folks from other states. We are loud and proud, and completely lacking in shame about that fact.
As obnoxious as some people find us, the one thing Texans will not do is go to another place and tell the locals how they ought to be living. I wish that were true of the folks that have been moving to Texas looking for work and trying to change our State into the outhouse they are running from. If your home is so great, why are you moving to Texas? Don’t make a lick of sense. Buy a hat and some boots, learn to say “Y’All”, and become part of the family. We are greater than the sum of our parts as long as we are all Texans.
Last but not least, let’s talk about guns.
At one time the number of Colt’s revolvers in the State approximated the total adult population of the State. Things have not changed.
If you are out and about and see a person with a gun who is not in uniform, DON’T PANIC! According to the Texas Department of Public Safety*, a Texan with a license to carry a handgun is 8 times LESS likely to commit any kind of crime than a police officer. If the person carrying the firearm is not waving it around and not pointing it at anyone, nothing illegal is going on. Relax and go about your business and take comfort in the knowledge that the person you saw is prepared to step up in the rare event someone does decide to start trouble.
*Handgun License Holders are convicted of 0.2459% of all criminal offenses in Texas.
OK, soapbox off.
Come see us real soon!