Thursday, July 15, 2010

Lone Star Hospitality: Abilene~Part 2

If you have ever driven across Texas, you have been humbled by its flat grandeur. We drove across it in a blizzard. In a VW bug. With a squalin' baby. They shut down the interstate, so we found back roads. Is that it? Noooo. We also had a flat tire. And the jack wouldn't go high enough. That it? No. We were really cold. Did you know they find cattle with their mouths frozen to the ground? Yes.

In Timothy Eagan's book about the dust bowl, The Worst Hard Time, he describes those southern plains, "It scares {people} because the land is too much, too empty, claustrophobic in its immensity...It scared Coronado, looking for cities of gold in 1541. It scared Anglo traders who cut a trail from Independence to Santa Fe... It even scared the Comanche as they chased bison over the grass...It scared the Germans from Russia and the Scots-Irish from Alabama...It still scares people...a place where the land and its weather --probably the most violent and extreme on earth--demand only one thing: humility."

Now hold your horses. There is something even bigger: Texas hospitality! The NCCIL hosted an art exhibit of the SCBWI Golden Kite award winners. Pictured above: Larry Day, Kristen Balouch, Alan Stacey, David Diaz, Pat Cummings, Priscilla Burris, Barbara McClintock, Diane Stanley, Cecilia Yung, and moi. We were treated like Princess Amidala. Although the guys wanted to be treated like Davy Crockett.

Nice expanse inside and artwork with a remarkable variety of technique, style and emotion.
It is such a beautiful show.

Stephen Mooser and I were fixin' to hunt buffalo. He even had a shirt made for the occasion.

Turned out it was easier to go to the Perini Ranch Steakhouse. You have to bring your own Bowie knife (also known as an Arkansas tooth pick), on account of the steaks that won't quit. We are talkin' steaks that will knock you clean off'n your chair if you turn your back on 'em.

Out front they have an iron armadillo the size of a tank. This is to scare away vegetarians.
Do you know what they call an armadillo out here? A Texas speed bump.

Eating large rare steaks does kind of iffy things to folks. Why that lady in the middle started pawin' the ground. Above: Liz Mertz, Stephen Mooser, Lin Oliver, Jacqueline Gramann, and Mark Mitchell. Seriously, Lin and Steve are the founders of SCBWI. They began with a handful of writers in their living room in 1971, and it has become a vibrant, international organization.

At Frontier Texas, these bronze sculptures by T.D. Kelsey capture the thunder of the cattle drives which are such a part of Abilene's history.

Thank you Sujata, Debbie, David, and the entire crew at NCCIL and SCBWI. I love y'all.


A mermaid in the attic said...

Not an adventure you'll forget in a hurry, by the sounds of things! But hey, come on...BIG? Ha! FLAT? HA! Maaaate (putting on a really exaggerated Aussie accent here...much worse than my normal Aussie accent!), you want big and across the Nullabor from Adelaide to Perth (though it was much more of an adventure when it was all gravel)! Now that's big...and flat. Blizzards unlikely though! ;-)

p.s. I think I've heard wombats referred to in similar terms to the armadillos. Not a pretty sight.

Richard Jesse Watson said...

Ok, Mermaid, I bow before you and eat red dust. Hey, I would love to drive across Australia, even on gravel. That would be life-changing. I will find a way to do this. cheers!

Julia Kelly said...

It scared my children- my mom and I took them out to the grass lands on the east side of 1-25 in Colorado and they got nervous- couldnt believe anything is so flat- your trip sounded so fun- alot of SCBWI alums with you-- looks like you had a blast- any chance you will be in LA for the conference?

BJW said...

Your forgot to mention your own experiences with a buffalo, for the sake of art. But that's another story.

Looks like a lot of fun, which is a given with Lin Oliver around. Plus you're making me jealous with all this talk of huge steaks.

Richard Jesse Watson said...

Hi Julia. It was a blast. Yep, going to LA. You?

Richard Jesse Watson said...

Ben? Well, as I live and breathe. You are right, that is another story. I was reluctant to tell it lest they cart me away.

You know you too could have one of them steaks. All you need is a bow and arrow and some steak sauce.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Richard, I'm really sad to have missed you. I'm glad you were able to experience some Texas hospitality. Peace.

Richard Jesse Watson said...

Sorry I missed you too. Maybe next time.

A mermaid in the attic said...

Hi Richard! When I was 11, my family did exactly that, though not just across the Nullabor, we went right round the whole country and down to Alice Springs too, in a '67 Ford Falcon station wagon and caravan. It definitely was a life-changing experience, and the most wonderful adventure for a couple of kids! LOTS of gravel back then! :)

Kat_RN said...

You have a great way of describing things. Started my day with a smile. Thanks.

Richard Jesse Watson said...

Mermaid, what a totally cool trip. That is one long rugged trip. I'm impressed. Your family were genuine adventurers! I love those Ford Falcons. Did you sing in the car?

Richard Jesse Watson said...

Thanks, Kat. You do too.

jesse joshua watson said...

Squalin? Why sire, I ne'er squalled a day in me life.

Mary Jane said...

What a great post! Brings memories of driving across Canada from Toronto to Vancouver with the kids and the dog in our brown Plymouth Duster with a white stripe along the side. Those hot sunny prairies go on and on and on. That memory happened a long long tme ago!
We do not have armadillos in Canada I don't think. Lots of skunks on the road though. Moose are a big problem in some provinces. Too big for speed bumps. Yikes. What a thought. Poor armadillos!

Richard Jesse Watson said...

Jesse, I am glad that you enjoy these altered thoughts of yours. ~:>)

Mary Jane, I agree, poor armadillos. But a moose! Holy cow!