Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Luckenbach, Texas + "Texasisms" We've Learned

Hi all, Dianne here --

Keep reading to learn about our visit to Luckenbach, Texas, and remember that some photos are better if you click on them for a larger view.

(Roger here... The sun is so bright here that when you do go into the shade, the shaded areas are very dark. It is a neat effect, but Dianne's suggestion to click on the pictures to make them larger brings out more of the details.)

But first, I want to share some "Texasisms" that Roger and I have learned during our brief time in Texas. Keep in mind, neither one of us had spent any time at all in the state of Texas before, other than one night in Amarillo ten years ago and a day trip to San Antonio for an Alamo Bowl football game. We are seeing this very-friendly state through "new" eyes.

Roger here... Every place we have visited in the motor home seems to have its own distinct culture. None of the places exhibit that culture more than the locales we have visited in Texas, where everything is bigger than life, and the very friendly and outgoing people demonstrate extreme pride in their state. Livin' the Good Life in Texas is an ongoing theme that makes this place special.

The first inkling I had of a "Texasism" occurred while we were still in Oklahoma, driving toward Texas. I kept seeing Hummer after Hummer with Texas license plates; we decided it must be the state car of Texas! (Jeeps take a close second place.)

As soon as we crossed the state line we learned another "Texasism": There are more Texas flags
waving in this state than U.S. flags! While in Indiana it is rare to see a state flag other than in a school or state building, here they are everywhere. And when you DO see a U.S. flag, chances are it will be paired with a Texas flag. I don't really blame them for this; after all, it is a really nice-looking flag! The pride Texans have in their state is obvious at every turn.

A third
"Texasism" concerns the lawn ornaments here. Many ranch entrances seem to have them. No little gnomes or angels to be found. Instead, there are huge, at-least-life-size statues of bison, horses, and all things western. We didn't have our camera at the ready to catch them in the entrances of the ranches and houses we passed, but we did get a good shot of a life-size horse at a place that sells them. It's true that everything is bigger in Texas.

There are two "Texasisms" that we learned about the highway system here: First, if there is a road paralleling the interstate highway, the cowboys here think nothing of gunning their pickup trucks across the grass to enter the interstate without the bother of an entrance ramp! (We saw this happen at least eight times in a two-day stretch. It is really not as dangerous as it seems, due to the fact that you can always see a trail of dust heading toward the highway in your peripheral vision. One time, there was not even a frontage road, the pick-up came straight out of a field!) The first time I saw this happen it kind of freaked me out; later, as we drove farther into the state, there were actually paved "mini-ramps" onto the interstate highway from the local roads. Not only that, but there are paved "mini-ramps" EXITING the interstate directly onto the local, parallel roads. There are even signs on the local roads warning motorists to yield to any exiting interstate traffic. That's a good thing, as there is no merge lane; you exit right into the traffic lanes!

Another quirky Texas highway custom is the fact that on some state roads the shoulder
is used just as if it were a traffic lane. If traffic builds up behind you on a two-lane road, you simply move onto the shoulder (not even slowing down) and let those behind you go past. This was convenient for us while driving the motor home. Those passing by always give a friendly Texas thank-you wave, too. This even happened in the Matrix after we'd been tailgated for a time. (I was only going 70 mph on the 70 mph road.) We moved over to let the tailgater pass, and they also gave us a friendly Texas thank-you wave. (All five fingers; imagine that!) I managed to get a shot of this custom in use while we were out driving on Texas highway 16.
Note the white car on the right. They are NOT in a traffic lane; they are driving on the wide shoulder of highway 16. Even the road shoulders are bigger in Texas!

We've been looking for a car wash for our dirty Matrix. We finally stopped trying to find them at the gas stations; car washes seem to be a stand-alone business here.

We also enjoy the no-litter signs in this state. They are indicative of the attitude and Texas pride shown everywhere.

Now for our afternoon in Luckenbach. My Amazon Workamper friends, Jose & Jill, told us to be sure to check out Luckenbach if there was anything going on. Our Texas A&M friends from the winery the other day suggested the same thing. Rob, another Amazon friend, who gave us several suggestions of things to do in Texas said that a visit to Luckenbach was a MUST, so off we went.
Luckenbach, Texas (population 3) consists of an abandoned
post office, a dance hall, an outdoor stage with seating, a concession stand with bottles of beer in tubs of ice, and a food stand and small
souvenir shop.
The town was purchased in the 1970s and turned into a music mecca for the likes of Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Kenny Chesney. It was made famous by a song whose lyrics go like this:

"Let's go to Luckenbach, Texas
with Waylon and Willie and the boys...

Out in Luckenbach, Texas
ain't nobody feelin' no pain...."

It's out in the middle of nowhere, and not even that easy to find. People DO find it, though, and the day we were there, there was a live band rockin' the place. They were great! I'm not much of a country music fan, so I was happy to see that the band this day was more rock-oriented. They did a rousing rendition of "Bobby McGee" that Janis would have been proud of!

Roger and I purchased ice-cold bottles of
Shiner (Texas beer) and chili dogs and enjoyed the show.

When we first walked into town, we noticed a cowboy with a longhorn steer who was hawking photos to the visitors. I walked swiftly right on by, but after some atmosphere and beer, Roger talked me into having my photo taken on the steer. (I was shocked that I actually convinced Dianne to do this. I find that subtle persistence does pay off from time to time.) First we went back to the car to fetch our cowboy hats that we'd purchased in South Dakota. The longhorn steer was huge. The cowboy seemed to enjoy himself as he helped boost Dianne all the way up into the saddle. He told her that he would have to charge extra if he had to shove on her butt to get her up there.

When we paid the cowboy for his help, he asked where we were from. When we told him Indianapolis, he joked, "That's just a little north of 'Amarilla,' ain't it?" I answered, "Yep, a fer piece north of "Amarilla!"

What I wish we'd gotten a photo of was the cowboy riding the steer, trotting like a horse, back to its trailer for break time.

While stowing books at Amazon last month, I came across an old James Michener book, "Texas." Right then and there I ordered a copy, and I'm about a third of the way through it. It's really helping me learn about Texas history and have a new understanding of this place. And, just like everything else in Texas, the book is huge - 1,096 small-print pages!

That's a benefit of our new lifestyle; we can really immerse ourselves in a place, spending more than just a week on vacation. By the time we leave Texas March 1, we should feel like Texans, too!

1 comment:

Kathy Seitz said...

Got the biggest kick out of seeing Dianne on that Longhorn. Thanks for taking us in blog to Texas. It sounds just delightful. I was reading Kenny many parts as I was laughing out loud. All that booze you are experimenting with has added some jovial anecdotes for us poor working bums stuck in cold Indiana. Thank you for sharing your photos and stories. I love them. Keep up the good work. I also love how Roger is cooking the Thanksgiving dinner and pampering Dianne when she came home from Amazon. Great job. I am proud of you.