Rob and I arrived in Dallas just in time for one of the biggest rivalries in college football, the Red River Shootout. Played at the Cotton Bowl in the Texas State Fair, the Red River Shootout features OU (Oklahoma) vs. Texas with fans traveling from both sides of the Red River (the boundary between Texas and Oklahoma) to pack the stadium with half burgundy and half burnt orange with the 50 yard line as the divider. Texas has been terrible this year, so we were pleasantly surprised to watch a competitive game with a UT victory.
After the game, we managed to hit a few of Rob’s parents’ favorite Texas State Fair sights despite the crowds – the fancy knife demonstrations, the butter sculpture, the Texan dairy free ice cream and the midway barker that appears to be missing legs (thank you mirrors). We also tried some chicken-fried bacon, which was more crispy batter than bacon.
Rob’s extended family lives in Dallas, so we finished the day watching more college football with them over dinner. TCU, Rob’s grandmother’s alma mater, was losing to Kansas State for most of the game. You knew it was bad when she started using “fresher” language at increased volumes. I think it runs in the Smith family. We also had a great lunch with Grandmother at the Forum where she lives and got a chance to show her all the pictures from our travels thus far.
Since Rob and I have spent so much time in Texas, we tried to fit in visits with as many friends as possible. A number of friends have landed in the Metroplex, so we had a good excuse to explore new places and catch with folks.
My friend from HS in NJ, Erin, was recently transferred to Fort Worth from Montreal, but fortunately for us she found the folks in Dallas were more “her people,” so is living pretty close to Rob’s relatives. We managed to meet her for dinner at a Texas ice house/food truck rodeo place called the Truckyard. Then, we caught up with our friend, Jen, from Rice at a dive bar near Love Field.
Rob and I also timed our Dallas visit to coincide with a smoked chicken/board game party that our friends, Chris and Jess, were throwing in Denton. We’ve known Chris since freshman year at Rice. He lived in Seattle for a time where he met Jess. Although we were sad they no longer live so close, at least they’re in a convenient spot to visit. We had a great couple days with them drinking amazing beers, playing new board games and eating tasty foods. I totally got a kick out of trying to mow their lawn with a implement that’s like a blade on the end of a golf club.
After visiting the Metroplex, Rob and I headed to Tyler for a couple days to see Grammy and Grampy, his maternal grandparents, and his uncles. We did some early Christmas tree assembly and decoration pulling out.
Next, we visited Dallas and stayed with Rob’s cousin Allison and her husband, Stephen. They love beer and wine, so we had fun opening some different beverages and cooking dinner. We also got to meet their new dog, who is super sweet.
For our last stop in Texas, we spent a week in Austin to visit Rob’s parents and the few remaining friends in the area. With Bob and Kathy, we did a day trip to Dripping Springs area to visit Jester King. En route we spotted Last Stand Brewing, so popped in there for a pint and another humiliating cornhole defeat for the “kids.” Then, we caught the last tour at Jester King then had a pint and watched the sunset. For dinner, we decided to hit the original Salt Lick since we were already out that direction. It’s BYOB, which necessitated a service station stop. The one we chose actually had a beer called Chupahopra that we had hear about and he been wanting to try. One of the best beer names ever!
The US Grand Prixe also happened to be the next weekend, so we decided to stay and see the race. Rob’s parents bought tickets because Elton John was the act for the post-race concert.
Between Bob’s work and Craigslist, we were able to get tickets for Saturday and Sunday. Saturday was a miserable washout where zero cars moved on the track. We finally gave up after hours of been cold and damp. Sunday the weather finally improved and two rounds of qualifying were run in the morning followed by all the normal racing. Lucky for us that they were honoring Saturday tickets for Sunday, so we were able to use our Saturday main grandstand tickets and get Sunday main grandstand tickets. This was especially awesome because GA was a mudpit. It was cool to watch the race from the grandstands and be able to see all the festivities as well as the start and trophy ceremony.