Is Everything Bigger in “Gay Texas?”
This is Part 2 in a three-part series. If you missed Part 1, click here!
Day 3: The Food Keeps Coming. They Should Call This the Dallas Food Tour!
When the alarm went off this morning, I felt like a roulette ball was spinning around the inside of my skull. When the ball fell into the 30 slot, I realized I only had thirty minutes to meet my group to head to breakfast, which had been prepared for us at the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau. Our chef was the famous Stephan Pyles.
He made a wonderful breakfast of Huevos Rancheros with his personal modern twist. It was awesome! They used liquid nitrogen to freeze the guacamole. It was like eating science. Stephan has created 21 different restaurants in his career! I am not surprised.
After breakfast we toured the Arts District. The Dallas Opera Theater is amazing; the amount of money it took to build this theatre is astounding! The biggest contributor donated well over 100 million dollars to the project. He unfortunately fell ill with cancer and never saw the building completed. The artists got together and put on a performance for him in the basement of the building while it was still under construction. How magical that must have been. Honestly though, if it had been me donating all that money, I would have insisted that my tomb be under the theatre. Then my ghost could haunt the patrons of the opera for all time.
We crossed the street and went inside the AT&T Theater. The entire theater is built vertically with the stage being totally changeable between levels. You simply must check out this time-lapse video that shows how it works.
The entrance is below ground level and you have to go down a steep ramp. There is a separate handicap ramp that zigs and zags its way down, but I could see someone in a wheelchair mistakenly going down the main ramp and getting into a heap of trouble. They should have one of those runaway-truck gravel ramps off to the side.
We had lunch from food trucks today. The trucks park at the side of a beautiful park that’s been recently built over the top of a freeway in order to beautify the city. When the Dallas city charter was written, a clause was added that requires a minimum amount of green space within the city. It’s resulted in some interesting and inventive ways to green things up. Way to go Texas!
After lunch we departed for Wildcatter Ranch. I’d been looking forward to this activity for the entire tour! We spent the next hour and a half driving to Graham, Texas and my insides kept twisting in excitement…or perhaps it was the food trucks. I love outdoor adventure activities, and this activity was promising to really deliver a cool experience.
We got to the ranch and our rooms were totally awesome! The design is kind of Ralph Lauren meets Wild West. It would make an excellent destination for a gay tour. Being on a press tour, they wanted to speed everything along, so we only had 15 minutes to get changed to ride our horses. It was too bad, since once I saw my room I really wanted to just sit in front of the fireplace and soak in the scenery.
We met a couple of hot cowboys in the lobby. It was the job of these beauties to take us down to the stables. I can’t tell you the orientation of these guys, because as I’ve stated before: everyone in Texas dresses like a gay cowboy.
We piled into an old jeep and went off through the forest. Soon we arrived at the stables. They were very clean and tidy. You’d almost think they didn’t keep any horses here, but sure enough, there were a dozen horses just waiting for us. One of them was tied up away from the others. Maybe he was being bad?
Getting on the horses was awfully funny. They had these steps that we climbed to mount our horses. Most of the riders had never ridden a horse, or at least not since Boy Scouts. Duane just about had a panic attack when they started saying the names of the horses. So many of them had names like “Wicked Thunder” or “Crazy Charlie” that Duane started trying to back out. They gave him a nice powerful horse with a name like General or Sergeant. His horse turned out to be the most polite horse you’ve ever met. I can imagine that horse sitting down for a hot cup of tea and cookies. So he and Duane were perfectly paired.
My horse was much more spirited. I had to lay down the law right from the get go. I think it’s absolutely amazing that me, a 150-pound girlie man, can hold control over this 2,000-pound beast.
We rode through the forest for about an hour, then came to a hilltop with the most stunning views. You could see the entire valley walled in by verdant mountains. We then rode back to the stables following a creek bed. I had a lot of time with just me and my thoughts…which is admittedly a little bit dangerous.
Later we swapped our horses for jeeps. We headed just up the road from the ranch to a gun shooting range, where we aimed shotguns at clay pigeons. The boys from Buenos Aires claimed they have never been shooting, but after they viciously annihilated each and every target…I suspected otherwise. How rough is Argentina?
Tonight we had dinner with the staff at the steak house located at the Wildcatter Ranch. Duane and I both ordered the chicken fried steak. We had an informal competition to see is either of us could actually finish a Texas-sized portion. I was the loser by far. Neither one of us could finish this monster, but two hours in and several thousand chest-clutching heart palpitations later, I threw in the towel. Duane definitely got farther through his side of beef than I did, but he might have only accomplished this by using his well-honed New York skills of pretending to eat it by chopping the food into progressively smaller and smaller pieces and sliding them around his plate. When I got back to my room I wasn’t feeling very well and I was bloated from eating too much food, so I made several “please let me survive this intestinal blockage” prayers to about a half-dozen deities, and passed out.
Day 4: Fort Worth – A Slice of Authentic Texas.
This morning we departed for Fort Worth, the Texas I expected. Stockyards, longhorn cattle, and demonstrations on roping cows and branding them on the asses. We went into the facility and observed an actual cattle auction. I went in to use the restroom and stood myself at my usual middle urinal. A very manly-looking and rough cowboy came in and stood at the urinal next to me. I looked at him out of the side of my eye and saw that he had an eight-inch cigar dangling from his mouth. Very unexpectedly he turned his head and looked right down at my package.
“Nice,” he said. “I’d smoke that cigar.”
I turned and looked at him. “The one in your mouth?” I asked
“Nope, not smoking this one. I just like me havin’ somethin’ in my mouth,” he said with a wink. He zipped up and exited the bathroom.
“That was odd,” I thought to myself. Was that flattering? I’m not really sure.
I rejoined my group, and told them what had happened in the bathroom. No one believed me.
We went back outside to watch the longhorn cattle drive. Fort Worth is home to the only twice-daily cattle drive in North America. It was wicked cool watching the longhorns go by. I kind of wish I’d paid the five bucks to have my picture taken sitting on top of one. My 7-year-old kid would have thought I was the most awesome guy on earth.
From here we walked up the street and visited Leddy’s Handmade Boots. This is the boot shop where President Bush has his boots made. They have custom boots that cost as much as $15,000.
You can have custom boots made for between $1000 and $3000 and it takes an entire year to make them. I just may go back to Fort Worth and have myself some boots made. I’m going to wear them with short shorts and a threadbare tee-shirt. I’ve been told by local Texans that this is not acceptable for a man, no matter what your orientation, but I’m a trail blazer. (Actually one friend said it might make me look more like a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader …)
Our next stop was Billy Bob’s Texas, the world’s largest Honky-Tonk…whatever that is. They have this absolutely ridiculous full-sized indoor rodeo within this bar! What I would have given to see the rodeo in full force.
We all had our pictures taken as if we were riding the bull. I can’t believe it, but I posted it to Facebook, and people actually asked me if the four of us were really riding together atop a live bull. *eye roll*
We had lunch at the Bird Café in historic downtown Fort Worth. They had the best damned ginger beer I’ve ever had. I’d make a trip to Fort Worth for the Ginger Ale alone.
Our last tour stop was get a tour of the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport. Which is actually a really nice airport…if not ridiculously large. It apparently covers an area that is larger than the island of Manhattan! They have a Centurion Amex lounge, and even an area for weary travelers to do yoga. The new American Terminal D was awesome. It was more like hanging out in a mall than in an airport. So go to Dallas and fly American and hope to fly out of Terminal D. That’s my official recommendation…unless you enjoy suffering and for some reason want to go to the old section of the airport and spend your afternoon looking at drop ceilings and the aged tan color tones of the nineties.
Back in town, our evening was topped off with another gay club-hopping experience. My favorite bar of the evening: Kaliente, a gay Latin bar. You’ve never seen gay cowboys until you see Latin gay cowboys in all their Flair.
If you want to see just what Dallas and Fort Worth are like, I suggest this David Guetta “Work Hard” video.