Saturday, July 21, 2007

Day 53

I got up today and went for a serious run - 50 minutes. During the run, I went to the nearby high school and ran a 6:30 mile on the track. I felt good but the heat and my dehydration (possibly one too many Shiner Bocks last night) caused my pulse to go up a bit higher than normal. Still, it's always good to 'stretch' the legs and get the pulse rate up.

When I got back, I found Paulo about as Hank as I was so we drove into Grapevine for lunch. We found an Italian cafe called Napoli's that (unbelievably) did NOT serve espresso. We stayed anyway. The food was pretty good but the service was lousy, so we left the waitress one of everything we had: one dollar, quarter, dime, nickel and penny. It was too much of a tip but we needed to get rid of the change.

By the time we finished lunch, it had started to piss rain so we drove to Grapevine Mills. Even though it is a big mall, I would like to tell you that we saw most of it. But we didn't. We went into a Virgin store and that was it. Massive sales - lots of CDs for ten dollars or less. There was no way were leaving until we found a sufficient number of bargains. I had to nearly drag Paulo out but we had to go because we had plans for the night.

We drove back to my aunt's house and had a fantastic meal - beef bourgenon (not stew, as Paulo incorrectly called it) cooked up by my uncle. It was quality!

We had a quick change and then drove into Fort Worth for the evening. Fort Worth became famous during the huge cattle drives of the late 1800s. Millions of cattle were taken along the Chisholm Trail, which started in Fort Worth and went north to Kansas. It has also seen it's fair share of law fightin' gun slingers. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Bonnie & Clyde all spent time in the town and hid out there. Nowadays, it is known for one thing - the Stockyards National Historic District where Cowtown Coliseum and the rodeo are.

Cowtown Coliseum was built in 1908 and hosted the very first indoor rodeo in 1918. Now there is a rodeo every Friday and Saturday night. My aunt had given us the lend of a Press Pass card and said that we might get free or discounted tickets. She was right - two free general admission tickets. Happy days!

I have to admit I didn't know what to expect but I really enjoyed the night. It began with the usual - the National Anthem with the lights turned off and the spotlight on the singer.

Then a woman rode around the rodeo with an American flag while a country song about loving America and God played.

Then it was down to business. All of the people competing were real cowboys from real ranches and (as they say) it was goll-dang great!

The first event was horse riding. Each cowboy had to stay on the horse for eight seconds in order to be scored for the ride. Otherwise, they were disqualified. I have no idea who won but there were a few dudes who lasted the eight seconds and the highest score took home the cashola.

The next event was calf looping. The cowboys took to their horses and had to chase a calf that was let loose across the rodeo. They had to lasso it's neck, wrestle it down to the ground and tie three of it's legs together. If the calf didn't move for eight seconds, then they were judged and scored on their effort. The best time / score combination took home the prize.

Up third was one for the bin lids. They lined up about fifty of them and set a calf free amongst them. They had to chase it around the place and try to pull a small green ribbon of it's bum. The child who grabbed won something. It was very funny as a lot of the kids ran the wrong way, fell down or just generally got in the way of everything.

Intermission - the same woman who sang the National Anthem sang two more songs. They weren't very good.

A few more cowboys riding horses started the second half. I don't know if they were stragglers as there was only a couple of them but another winner was announced.

Next up was team calf looping. This time there were two cowboys (or girls) chasing the calf. One had to lasso it's neck and the other had to lasso two of it's legs. It looked dog-garn hard and only one pair managed to do it successfully. They took home (or next door to the bar) some bread for their effort.

The fifth event was women's barrel racing. This was a timed event where the horse came sprinting out of the chute and had to run around three barrels arranged in a triangle and then sprint back to the chute. I think the winning time was 14.03 seconds. But all the ladies were 'winners' and they got lots of cheers from the audience.

There was another bin lid event - this time they were even younger and they chased a mutton. Of course mayhem ensued but one of them eventually managed to snatch the ribbon and prize.

The last event of the evening was bull riding. This was hard core. The bulls were huuuuge and very few of the cowboys could actually stay on them for the required eight seconds. Only two of them did and they got the same exact score so they had to share the prize money.

Afterwards, our free tickets just kept giving - we had free admission into Billy Bob's next door. It must have been one of the biggest bars that I have ever seen. They have a restaurant, a fast food type of place, a stage for bands with lots of seating and a huge dance floor, a second dance floor behind it, about 10 or 12 bars, pool tables, slot machines, a room for private functions with it's own pool tables and bar and a gimp shop!

We stayed for a beer and to listen to the band, Reckless Heart, who totally sucked. When we couldn't take any more of the music we left. As soon as we got back, I crashed. I was shattered.

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