2017 Trip Two: Tour of Texas April 7

Fort Worth Texas Saturday April 8

View of Fort Worth skyline from Amon Carter Museum of American Art

Friday April 7
Lest you think we are getting lazy, we left Athens TX early Friday morning and walked for an hour around the East Texas Arboretum. Our Evergreen hosts had to travel to southern Texas for a wedding Friday afternoon so we left the house early. The Arboretum had been our goal Thursday afternoon but, as you may recall, we spent that time watching pigs being judged instead.

East Texas Arboretum

The Arboretum had walks through a bog, a dogwood trail (no dogwoods in bloom), and a hardwood forest among its options. The early morning sun and cool temps gave some nice contrast to the heat and sun of the afternoons.

Fort Worth was to be our next destination for lodging. Fort Worth appeals to us more than Dallas. Dallas is bigger than Fort Worth (1,260,000 vs 800,000) and each one is bigger than either St. Paul or Minneapolis but I viewed Fort Worth as the little brother to Dallas; similar as St. Paul is viewed to Minneapolis. Fort Worth also seemed to have more interesting attractions. A major impetus to the growth of Fort Worth’s is tied to the cattle business; from the shipping of cattle via railroad in the late 1800s to the meat-packing business of Armour and Swift.

But Dallas did have one or two items we wished to see. One was Dealey Plaza, the area around the assassination site of President John F. Kennedy. Good luck came our way and we found an on-street parking spot half a block from the museum. When we arrived at the museum the cashier told us it would be 90 minutes before we could gain admittance. Chris and I looked at each other and decided it was just not worth our time to wait. (Our Evergreen hosts in Fort Worth later agreed with our decision.)

The Mustangs at Las Colinas

Instead we hopped back in the car and drove to Las Colinas. This was a destination recommended to us by one of our Evergreen hosts. The Mustangs at Las Colinas at Williams Square in Irving Texas is the largest equine sculpture in the world. Las Colinas is a combined residential-commercial development that was once a family ranch. The owner-developer wanted a signature sculpture to showcase the development. He commissioned an African wildlife artist to create a sculpture of mustangs running in the wild. The end result is shown.

The sculpture depicts nine mustangs, two stallions, two foals, and five mares running in a stream. The setting is in the midst of a stark plaza surrounded by three high-rise office buildings. There is a small museum in one of the buildings with exhibits and a video explaining the eight year process from concept to final installation in 1984.

From the mustangs, we headed over to the National Cowgirl Museum in Fort Worth. Along the way we stopped at the Railhead Bar B Q in Fort Worth for lunch. Turns out Railhead is one of the top rated barbecue places in Dallas Fort Worth. We chose it by happenstance. I loved the saying on the staff shirts: “Life is too short to live in Dallas”.

National Cowgirl museum in Fort Worth Texas

The museum started in 1975 in western Texas (by Amarillo). Over time, it expanded, gained funding and moved to a brand new museum building in the Cultural District of Fort Worth. (Pictures are not allowed inside.) The Cowgirl Museum discusses the overlooked role of women in the cattle business. There is a Hall of Fame listing notable women and yes, Annie Oakley does get major play.

A Charles Russell painting at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art

The Fort Worth Cultural District includes, among others, the Amon Carter Museum of American Art. The museum began as the personal collection of Amon Carter, a Fort Worth businessman. Carter was born in a log cabin and quit school at age 11. His business sense led to his work with the local newspaper and over time into oil and aviation. He started collecting works by Frederick Remington and Charles Russell in 1935. He died in 1955 and this museum was established through his foundation. It opened in 1961 and his funding provided for it to be free to all.

Cordova shellstone interior wall at Carter Museum

One of the interesting notes about the museum building was the use of Cordova shellstone for the exterior and interior walls. If you look closely, one can observe the imprints of the shells from the ocean that covered this area of Texas hundreds of millions of years ago. (Remember the discussion from the oil museums?) Besides the exhibits of works by Remington and Russell, there were special exhibits. To be frank, several of those (Avedon in Texas and Gego as Printmaker) did not excite me. Two others, Invented Worlds of Valton Tyler and Prints of Helen Frankenthaler, were more my cup of tea.

After the museums, we met our Fort Worth Evergreen hosts for a quick meeting before heading back out the door for an evening performance of the Stockyards Rodeo. One does have to pay for parking of course. Simple, right? Well, not if you are me. I foolishly, I know not why, put my credit card in the cash slot. Well, the cash slot did not give my card back but the people behind me in line were patient and considerate. Others tried to help but it took Chris going to get a needle nosed plier from one of the open retail shops to get the card out while I was on hold trying to cancel the credit card. Fortunately, Chris got the card out before I canceled the credit card. We made the rodeo after the Star Spangled Banner.

Bull Riding at the Stockyards Rodeo in Fort Worth

The rodeo was fine; in my mind it was a little more oriented to a family show. Twice they had children come out onto the arena and let loose a calf and a sheep. Surprised the heck out of me but no one was hurt and they all seemed to have fun.

The two hours covered bull riding, barrel racing, calf wrestling, roping, etc. I even behaved myself and mainly watched the show versus taking pictures. The fact that we had seen rodeos before probably helped. My sister-in-law keeps insisting that there is no rodeo to compare with the Houston Rodeo. Despite our times in Houston, we have never attended the Houston Rodeo so I will have to take her word for it.

Ed and Chris

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