"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers theme for TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon artist's musings melding metaphors and journalism, for readers in more than 150 countries.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

All aboard to stress freedom, part 2

Traveling someplace you don't have to drive or rent a car has become a new passion of mine, ever since two trips to Europe. Sure, we don't have their mass transit here, but it is possible. We've done it in San Francisco, Seattle, and once again, in Fort Worth. Between buses, free trollies, and cabs, life is much simpler and cheaper. And traveling with the Kelseys adds humor and interesting conversations as well, since they picked us up and drove us all to the Amtrak station in downtown OKC. Parking in the Cox garage is only $6 a day.
The four of us at H3 restaurant in the Stockyards, for great ribs,
steaks and a chicken fry to die for...our first evening meal.
The other benefit of traveling with the Kelseys is that Roy takes photos of everything. I take lots of photos...now almost exclusively with my iPhone. But Roy has a small digital camera and he took more than 400 photos on this trip. So the photos you see may be his, or mine. The one pix I didn't take, and should have, was a photo of Roy taking photos. I was sort of the tour guide since I'd been there before (taking students down for a credit course called "Cowboy Journalism," and with Susan, and with brother Jerry), and while the bus schedule caused us some problems, the food was excellent and other sights worth a return.
The flag of The Republic is ever present in Texas
Places to eat...Go to the Stockyards north of downtown--cab or bus, ease through the lobby of the Stockyards Hotel for great art, then through the side door to the H3 bar, with a buffalo butt coming out of the wall (home of Buffalo Butt beer). You can sit on a saddle at the bar if you wish, and flirt with the female bartenders in their hats and boots. And you can talk through the doors into the next room, the restaurant where the food's being cooked on the grill--great smells, and the buffalo head is mounted on the wall opposite its butt on the other side. Chandeliers of deer antlers. Longhorn heads and other wildlife mounted on the walls. Great ribs, steaks, and my fav chicken fry.
Jill, Susan and I in front of old water tower at roundtable
in the stockyards at the Grapevine Railroad.
Tour the stockyards for sure...lots of gift shops, a depot for the Grapevine railroad, the incomparable White elephant bar--a collection of more than 1,000 white ceramic elephants from around the world, plus hundreds of real cowboy hats attached to the ceiling with the names of their owners...the real west and the poetry of the names. Live western music most nights  and a small dance floor. And there's a twice a day "cattle drive" down the street with real cowboys walking real longhorns a few blocks, till those very well fed, pampered animals get back to their stalls. It's touristy, but a top draw if you haven't seen it. It's also home to the gigantic "Billy Bob's," the worlds largest western honky-tonk with multiple dance floors and bars--worth seeing, at night, but sort of a warehouse withspurs.
Susan and Jill at Riata
The next evening at downtown Riata Restaurant...named after the ranch in "Giant," with appropriate  Elisabeth Taylor and James Jean mementoes. Because of the heat, we didn't eat on the roof this time, but I highly recommend the quail and cheese grits appetizer.
Kelseys on Riata's roof

If you're not in for western food, there's a killer sushi restaurant downtown, Piranha Sushi, and lots of Mexican restaurants a short cab ride away from downtown. There's also a phenomenal hamburger at Jakes, two blocks north of the hotel. But don't think "Cowtown" is all about the west. You won't believe the museums and other attractions to help keep stress away. That's to come.
The lighting in Riata is "romantic" and you  old folks will need reading glasses and an iPhone flashlight to read the menus, though the restaurant will provide small flashlights and reading glasses.

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