Road Notes: Day 127
Since getting into Texas, we have seen a lot of advertisements for “Rodeo Austin.” We came to Austin instead of Dallas or Houston because it has a young, hip scene that we wanted to explore. However, we would be amiss to spend time in Texas and only see it through the lens of a hipster. I want to put on some cowboy glasses…in an un-ironic way.
Tickets to the rodeo were not particularly cheap, but they included entrance to the fair and a late night concert from some big-name Country band. We splurged. This morning, as Branden caught up on some road notes, I took some time to research the long list of recommendations that had been bestowed upon us by a few of our friends with Austin experience (shout out to Kim, Theresa, and Alkan). I narrowed down what we wanted to do in our last few days here, then went ahead and purchased our tickets to the rodeo for this afternoon.
Austin traffic is pretty terrible. It is obviously a city that grew a little too fast for it’s infrastructure to keep up. The highways are often backed up off the entrance ramp. There also seems to be stoplights on their highways? What sense does that make? After having just come from New Orleans, home of the most imbecilic road systems I’ve ever encountered, it was tolerable. It felt like LA all over again. Today was no exception. Rodeo Austin wasn’t far, but took almost an hour to get there.
We arrived, parked, opened the door to get out, and the wind nearly tore it clean off. It was windy. Most of the rides in the outdoor festival were shut down because it was unsafe. No worries. We aren't here for the rides, but for the food. Walking around the entire grounds allowed us to scope out the options. We settled for a pre-rodeo appetizer of frito pies and some local craft beer from Revolver Brewing (him: Revolver Bock, me: Sidewinder Southwest Pale Ale). After petting every animal in the petting zoo (I am a child), we stumbled upon the show animal arena where some of the prize winning miniature horses, cows, hogs, and chickens were on display. It seems like the goat, ram, and sheep categories had yet to compete. Several owners were shearing and vacuuming (I’m not kidding) their livestock, preparing for the competition.
The rodeo was starting, so we hustled in to the arena. I bought the bargain seats because I am a cheap bastard. One of the docents approached us and asked if we would like to take some free seats closer to the floor. Our view ended up being pretty great. The rodeo was hilarious. The best event was certainly the mutton bustin’. Little kids (5 years old) wear a helmet and hold on to the top of a sheep, which is then let out of the gate. The kids cling on for dear life. Holy hell, some of them were really good. Those sheep were not easy on them, either. All of the events looked incredibly difficult. The bucking bronco, wrangling cows, even barrel racing obviously takes a lot of skill. Branden noted that this is probably one of the few sports that is a reflection of talent needed for a certain profession or way of life. Horse riding and lassoing were necessary to be a good rancher. What real world applications does basketball have?
After the rodeo, we dipped out for (gasp!) more food. I went with the funnel cake because I am predictable and Branden got a cheese steak. A few Miller tall boys was a perfect pairing because we are in Texas, after all. Old Dominion was the live music for the evening. The lead singer jumped off the stage, came into the audience and walked right up to us. Bummer that moment was wasted on a couple of clueless city slickers. I am sure that would have incited a panic attack for some of the girls in the audience. It actually was a good show, and I was able to check off both a rodeo and a country music concert off of my list of things to do in my lifetime.
Despite being exhausted, we decided to hit up one bar on our way home. Lala’s Little Nugget was at the top of our list, and we were passing through North Austin anyways. We popped in for a quick drink. Legend has it, this bar opened around Christmas, and the decorations just never came down. It was a little too cute and clean to be categorized as a ‘dive,’ in my opinion. However, the drinks were good and cheap, and they had a killer jukebox. Enough for me.
Road Notes are timed entries—written in thirty minutes or less at the end of each day. Considerations are made for spelling/legibility but not for grammar. Deal with it.