We got up and out early this morning because we were headed down to the Fort Worth Stockyards to see what would be going on there. On a Monday, not as much was going on as the shows and rodeo were all on the week-end but the cattle drive was still going on, once at 11:30 and again at 4:00. We decided we wanted to watch the 11:00 so we left early not knowing how difficult finding a parking place would be.
As we pulled onto Exchange Street we were greeted by a big banner proclaiming Fort Worth Stockyards and we rode down the brick paved street. We immediately found a public parking lot and pulled in there. No difficult at all to find parking on a Monday but figuring out how to pay for it was a new deal for us. It was $5 for the day (a lot cheaper than the $50 we paid in New Orleans) but we had to insert one dollar bills into a large parking meter. The slots were numbered to match the parking spaces. One by one Jerry inserted 5 bills with the “1” up. I have no idea how they know who paid what as it surely did not look computerized.
Our first visit was the Visitor’s Center right across the street. We got a map and some suggestions of what to see and where to have lunch. Since it was nearing 11:30 we didn’t have much time before the drive so we walked across the street to the stockyard where the 19 cattle that would be in the drive were penned. Seventeen of them looked fully grown. In fact the oldest is 18 but there were two young cattle, about 1 ½ years old. Their horns grow 40% their first year and 80% by their fourth year but they keep growing all of their lives.
As we walked down the street before the drive we saw several horses and I chatted with one of the riders. She turned out to be the lead rider who periodically called the cows during the walk. She said they were dressed as they were so they could be as authentic as possible recreating the 1800’s. There were six horseback riders on the drive.
We also saw longhorns along the sidewalk that you could have your picture taken with, beside or atop. For $5 – I was having a bad hair day so not for me and Jerry surely was not going to get on one!
Before the drive began there was a gentleman in the cleared street that acted as the MC and shared a lot of interesting facts about the cattle. In 1928 there was only a small number of longhorns but then the government stepped in (he didn’t explain that) and now there ¾ million. In the early days the cattle drive were 800 miles down the Chisolm Trail to Abilene, Kansas. Jokingly he said that was why they had a walking of the cows, not a running of the bulls!
Right next door to the Visitor’s Center is the Cowboy Museum of the West so we headed on over there. Upon entering the museum the first display was dedicated to John Justin, creator of the famous Justin boots. Then there were rows of pictures and bios of Hall of Famers. Jerry and I used to watch the rodeos on TV a lot and we recognized some of the names we saw. The museum is also filled with old wagons and buggies plus has a nice display of bits. The question was asked, “why bits” and then you realize the important role that bits have played in controlling horses for years.
We left on the trail of something good to eat. As we wandered the streets we saw some restaurants recommended by the lady in the Visitor’s Center and we finally narrowed it down to Cattleman’s Steak House and Hummer Brothers or H3 and for some reason Jerry chose H3. We both had a half rack of pork barbequed ribs, French fries and corn on the cob. Not the healthiest meal I’ve ever had but boy was it good. I did leave a few fries on my plate but it was only because I just couldn’t eat anymore because they were delicious. I don’t think they came out of a bag and if they did I surely would like to know the label!
After a delicious lunch we just wandered up and down Exchange Street looking in all of the stores. If you can’t find a Fort Worth t-shirt or a cowboy hat on Exchange Street then you’re aren’t looking. They were in nearly every store. We ended up at the “mall” which is just a strip of small stores. Again we wandered in and out of them and I finally bought a magnet (surprise) and a Christmas gift for next year. Now let’s hope I remember that I bought it and remember where I put it! I finally bought a sweatshirt and then we went on a hunt for a cone of ice cream. There was a little store in the mall that had ice cream but they were cleaning out the freezers plus there was no kind I was interested in. I just like plain old chocolate so we went back on the street in search of ice cream. You can buy wine and beer but there’s no ice cream to be found.
By this time it was nearly 4:00 and time for the second cattle drive of the day so we decided to stay and watch that. Then we started back to the campground but wait – we don’t have an address. We only have coordinates and the Garmin won’t take those coordinates. Guess it’s too old. It took us nearly an hour to get back to the Holiday Park no thanks to Garmin. We used Waze on my phone to get us there. We found out later that there is an address on the map we received upon registration but of course that was in the RV. From what I have seen most state and federal parks plus CO parks use coordinates as their address so guess I need to find an app that will let me input those.
A quiet night – I didn’t even have dinner as I was still full from our scrumptious lunch. As I stated earlier this campground is so very quiet and dark plus no one seems to be out and about. We saw no one!