Friday 13th July 2001, Dallas TX

After checking on the progress of the bike repairs, we decided to visit the Ft. Worth stockyards, part of the legendary Chisholm Trail. John Chisholm, the pioneer of the original cattle trail, is probably best known from John Wayne’s portrayal.

Fort Worth itself is a much older city than its neighbour, Dallas. The two cities appear to be co-joined at the airport, but are, in fact, some 30 miles apart.

The stockyards are about 2 miles north of downtown Ft. Worth, but the drive takes you into the very heart of the Wild West. At 10am and 4pm each day, a small herd of pretty Texas Long Horn cattle is driven from the old Exchange building to the rail road station for the benefit of tourist cameras – escorted by mounted police officers (much to John’s amusement)!

We duly took our snaps (and had our photos taken with one of the beasties), and headed for the shade of the historic Stockman’s Hotel.

John sampled the unique flavour of Buffalo Butt beer (the best that can be said is that he has had some ‘real’ ales that have tasted worse) from a western saddle (mounted on a saloon stool), while Brigid downed a bucket of iced tea (before ordering a Margarita)! By now the sun was going down, and it was time to think of dinner.

Thinking Dallas might seem a little tame to visiting Londoners like ourselves, Lori and Howard McGinnis had recommended that we visit Deep Ellum, which “can get pretty wild on a Friday or Saturday night”. It is one of the trendy places in Dallas, full of night clubs, bars, restaurants, tattoo parlours, punks, gays, lesbians, and bikers. We were sure to fit right in …

In truth, Deep Ellum is probably wild by Texan standards. There were certainly plenty of ‘young’, sporting grunge fashions and loud hair colours. There was a cacophony of noise coming from various dodgy-looking clubs on Main and Elm Streets.

Police patrol cars toured the area, and an electricity company truck partially blocked one of the streets, while its driver tried in vain to resurrect the neon sign over one of the bars. But if you venture beyond the seedy façade of any of the restaurants, you will find the tables occupied by well-dressed, and well-heeled, young professional types. We had an excellent meal in St. Pete’s Dancing Marlin.