"Life's a dance, you learn as you go"
State 27: Texas: January 14th
We woke up at a Walmart in Hobbs, New Mexico well rested, and ready for a new day. Yesterday, Rosie got a clean bill of health from the Dodge mechanic secondary to surviving the oil change from hell! However, all of that was now behind us! Today, we drive East to enter the 27th state on our cross country journey to discover America and find a new state to call home; Texas: The Lone Star State. I had to dig deep to find the origin of this state slogan. The motto pays tribute to Texas’s fight for independence from Mexico, which it won in 1836. This is the reason the Texas flag has only one star, and is also the reason Texas is the only state permitted by law to fly its state flag at the same height as the American flag! After winning its independence from Mexico, Texas was its own republic for 10 years until becoming the 28th state in 1846! Texas has the unique distinction of being the only state in the US who was once its own country!
With no state income tax, vast expanses of open land, a strong state pride, and a state placing high value on freedom, Texas earned a spot on our short list as a potential candidate prior to departing on our trip, but the time has now come for the Lone Star State to impress us in person! Will the freedom, vast land, and state pride of the Texas persuade the Cross Country Couple to call the state our new home? We can’t wait to begin our exploration of the Lone Star State! Since everything is big in Texas, we are allotting 2-3 weeks for the exploration of the state, and we have A LOT of driving ahead of us! It’s time to saddle up!
According to Google Maps, it was a 411 miles from Hobbs, NM to our first stop in Fort Worth, TX. The drive would take 6 hours and 23 minutes, and we would break it up over 3 days. Along the way, we would spend the days meandering through the towns that lie in between. Northwestern Texas is home to many large scale oil drilling and manufacturing operations, and the smell was absolutely repulsive! Even Rosie’s recirculator was rendered useless. Lori then busted out the peppermint essential oil, which also provided little relief from the noxious gas! After two days of breathing in the horrid stench, Lori and I had massive migraine headaches! So far Texas was not off to a very good start, and things were about to take another sudden turn for the worse in our journey through the Lone Star State!
Water quality and water treatment varies wildly across the US, and I needed a filter that could handle whatever I ran through it! I wanted the ability to siphon water from a sidewalk in New York City, run it through a filter, and out the other side comes a mountain spring water experience! Prior to departing on our cross country trip, I searched for months and months for the best portable water filter I could find, and one name stood out among all others: Berkey. The Berkey Water Filter Systems removes 99.999% of: viruses, pathogenic bacteria, lead, mercury, chlorine, THMs, bisphenol-A, chloramines, pharmaceuticals, petroleum contaminants, methylcycohexane, methane, pesticides, heavy metals, coliform, e-coli, atrazine, uranium, gross Alpha emitters herbicides, VOCs, organic solvents, radon 222, and trihalomethanes. I don’t even know what half of the these things are, which is all the more reason it should NOT be in my drinking water! The Berkey Water Filter System is so powerful; it can actually filter the food coloring out of the water! Try doing that with your Brita! I upgraded the included Black Berkey filters to include the optional fluoride and arsenic filters. Despite what your dentist may say, fluoride is NOT good for you, and seriously, who the hell wants arsenic in their drinking water? As a result of months of drinking the highest quality filtered purified H20, Lori and I have both become water snobs. After eating filet mignon every day, it’s almost impossible to go back to eating chuck steak (I know, it’s a bad analogy coming from two vegetarians, but you get the gist).
Despite our Berkey filtered water being superior to all others, Lori and I drink tap water only when dining out in each state to sample their water quality! At the end of our 2nd day of driving enroute to Forth Worth, we entered the town of Abilene, TX, and stopped to have pizza for dinner. Although most tap water tastes disgusting, the tap water in Abilene, TX was the worse water I have ever tasted in my entire life! The flavor of the water on my pallet evoked my gag reflex, and I spit the water straight across the restaurant! At first sip, I got the strongest flavor of chlorination, which actually burned my tounge! Think about the taste of swimming pool water, and multiply that sensation 20 times! After the chlorine flavor subsides, you then get introduced to a subtle yet pungent flavor of a combination of unknown chemicals. I am actually dry heaving as I as relive the experience with all of you!
We took to Google to discover what was up with the water in Texas, and made a very disturbing discovery! Texas has the worst drinking water in the entire US! To make matters even more disturbing, Texas towns also held 16 of the 25 slots for the cities with the worst drinking water in the US! Although no one single reason has been identified as the cause for the state's poor water quality, many believe the problem stems from the state's long history of oil drilling, which results in the drinking water needing to be treated by elevated levels of chemicals. Unfortunately, we have previously visited another state who was destroying their environment in the name of economic gain, which can read about by clicking here.
Everyone should expect to have clean water to drink and fresh air to breath! It is a totally unacceptable quality in a potential new home state to destroy their environment in the name of economics. I hoped I would not be spending the next two weeks in Texas breathing polluted air, and attempting to drink undrinkable water! If the aforementioned proves to be true, this would be a deal breaker for the Cross Country Couple! Lori and I had such high hopes for Texas, and even before we began exploring the state, we may have already disqualified Texas as our new home! How very disappointing!!!
After a long, cold, ugly and smelly 3-day drive through Northwestern Texas we had finally arrived in the Fort Worth Stockyards for the Cross Country Couple's “Roadside Attraction”; Billy Bob’s Texas; The World’s Largest Honky-Tonk. For those who may not know, a honky-tonk is both a style of country music, and a bar which plays such music for the entertainment of its patrons. Named the Best Country Night Club 10 times by the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association, Billy Bob’s Texas features 100,000 square feet of interior space, 20,000 square feet of parking space, 30 bars and has the capacity of serving over 6000 cowboys and cowgirls! YeeHaw! Billy Bob's is so large it was the site of a world record! In 1983 while performing on stage, Merle Haggard bought a shot of whiskey for each person in the crowd of 5,095! The drinks cost $12,737.50, totaled 40 gallons of booze, and earned Haggard a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records as the purchaser of the biggest round of drinks! Please see the pictures below of the outside of Billy Bob's.
While I love to dance, Nate does not! I have been trying to get him to take me dancing for years to no avail. The honky-tonk is a scheduled stop on our cross country trip, and there is no way Nate could wiggle out of this one! This was the moment I had been waiting for! Although I have occasionally lined danced, neither Nate nor I had ever gone to a honky-tonk, let alone to the world’s largest, and we had absolutely no idea what we were getting ourselves into! The reviews revealed they offer dance classes, which would help ease us into our new foreign environment! We arrived at Billy Bob’s, paid the $2.00 cover, and entered the world’s largest honky-tonk! Below are pictures of what we saw!
The place was dead! We counted 20 people in total! Perhaps we just visited on a slow night. Worst of all there were no dance classes being offered! Although I was very disappointed, Nate found the situation hilarious, and said, “While Billy Bobs may be the biggest honky-tonk in the world, they never claimed to be the busiest honky-tonk in the world”. Nate was a good sport and offered to take me dancing again at some point further down the road.
Since we already paid our cover, we might as well meander around to check out all of Billy Bob's offerings. The first point of interest was a bull riding area! I am not talking about a mechanical bull with predictable movements, and a sea of comfy cushions to envelop you when you fall! This is Texas, and we were standing in the biggest honky-tonk in the world! There will be no mechanical bull riding here! Imagine our surprise when one moment we were in a country western bar, and upon walking around a corner, still inside of Billy Bob’s, we saw what is pictured below!
That's Right! Billy Bob’s features live bull riding every Friday and Saturday night! Most perplexing was the sign hanging outside of the arena, which read, “Billy Bob’s Bull Riding $4.00 Bucks” Seriously! You just pay $4.00, and then hop on a 2000 pound bucking bull! I was shocked! Why in the world would they allow drunk people to ride a live bull in their bar? Perhaps their patrons must first sign a waiver, and at the very least hopefully undergo a breathalyzer! American bull riding has been deemed the most dangerous 8 seconds in sports. Add alcohol to the mix, and you have all the ingredients for a life threatening situation! Their insurance rates must be astronomical! It's a good thing their bull riding wasn’t occurring during our visit!
Next, we walked to the far side of the building, and made another interesting discovery: The Billy Bob’s Wall of Fame! Garth Brooks, Willie Nelson, and Johnny Cash, are just a few of the country music legends who have performed at Billy Bob's, and left their lasting mark. Literally! For decades, artists have been leaving their hand print in wet cement, which is then displayed on the back wall of the honky-tonk. It was fun to compare my hand sizes with some of the biggest names in the music business. The hand prints of LeAnn Rimes, Garth Brooks, Kenny Chesney, Kansas, Trisha Yearwood, Alabama, The Temptations, Blake Shelton, Conway Twitty, Huey Lewis, The Monkees, Wynona Judd, Hootie and the Blowfish, Dierks Bentley, BB King, and Bret Michaels are pictured below in the order in which they are mentioned!
In addition to bull riding and the Wall of Fame, Billy Bob’s features a large BBQ restaurant, a huge pool hall, massive arcade, gigantic collection of country music memorabilia, and a dance floor as big as Texas!
After departing Billy Bob's, we drove across town were we found a Walmart to spend the night.