Shiny Metal Tiger

Experiences in Baltimore, MD

Road Trip days 16-17: Texas

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Texas. The second largest of the United States (Alaska), second most populous state (California) with the second highest GDP (California). I’ll resist the urge to make a joke about it being a second-rate state and instead offer the standard proverb: Everything is bigger in Texas. Everything, except for my itinerary: we had 600 miles to cover on the I-10, and the only things on my todo-list were to see an oil pump and to try some Texas barbecue. I don’t think I’m giving much away by telling you right away that we did accomplish both, although it wasn’t until we hit West Texas that we saw these:

Oil pump, check.

Since we didn’t have a ton to do in Texas, and knowing that the National Parks would be packed tight once we got further West, we tried to make good time through the Lone Star State. The first day took us as far as Luling, at which point we could go no further that day. You see, my research had revealed that some of the best barbecue in Texas could apparently be had in this town of roughly 5000. And because we arrived there on a fasting day, we had to hang around until we could sample the delights. Which sounds like a ridiculous self-imposed limitation, except that we didn’t get there until 9ish and the place was closed anyway. So off we went to the nearest campground, and then back to Luling at nine the next morning for a yummy brisket-and-ribs breakfast:

And the winner is...

I would offer a nice description of the Luling City Market barbecue restaurant, except that someone else has already done a swell job on just that here. So instead I’ll just say that walking through the cafeteria style dining room, into the smoke room with its darkened walls and spartan menu (ribs, brisket and sausage, each with a price per pound) was just the right kind of atmosphere for a BBQ joint. And when they piled those smoky red ribs on sheets of butcher paper, and asked how many pickles and slices of Wonderbread I wanted, some primordial pitmaster gene told me that we’d come to just the right place. Sure enough, with just the right amount of their delicious sauce this was perhaps the tastiest, juicest barbecue I’ve ever had (I’ll give my dad another chance to claim that title, haven’t had his ribs in a long time now). I still have a thing for the beef ribs at Jim Neely’s, but if we’re comparing apples to apples then Luling takes the prize.

Luling City Market

That might have been the end of Texas (aside from another 350 miles on the interstate), but of course we weren’t doing everything according to plan, and therefore decided to make a stop in San Antonio. Why? I couldn’t tell you, honestly. At some point we realized that the Alamo was there, but I don’t think that was until we were already going.  Certainly it turned out to be a far better idea than when we decided to check out Baton Rouge and failed to find anything interesting. Although it seemed a nice enough place overall, there were two main highlights in San Antonio. The first of these was the Riverwalk, basically a canal running through town, lowered from ground level and stuffed with vegetation, cafes and restaurants. Quite an efficient transformation, basically taking you to another world by a single flight of stairs. I’m sure it’s touristy and overpriced, but I still condone it.

San Antonio Riverwalk

The other highlight was of course the Alamo. I’m not sure that many people outside of the United States, or even outside of Texas, know more about it than the Texian battle-cry, ‘Remember the Alamo!’. I know I didn’t. In short, it’s a Catholic mission turned makeshift fortress in a 13-day siege during the Texan War of Independence from Mexico. A couple of hundred Texians (that’s what Texans were called back then) stood up to a couple of thousand Mexican troops, and were promptly all killed. There was any number of exhibits and videos emphasizing the bravery of the defenders and the significance of the battle, but I must admit that they failed to instill in me any particular reverence for the fallen soldiers. It probably was a pivotal battle for uniting the revolutionaries, but other than that it doesn’t seem so different from any number of other sieges. Still, I was greatly educated about the whole Texan Revolution, which goes a long way to explain the special relationship between Texas and the United States as a whole.

Forget the Alamo

Written by Martin

2010/12/21 at 15:09

Posted in Places

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