Sunday, March 6, 2011

Spring, Birthdays, Rodeo, Aquarium, Dogs and Home

This weekend we went to Spring, TX, the place I lived from grades 1-3 and then 10-12 (I lived in Austin for grades 4-9). 

In many ways, the Spring area has changed since my days of cruising the streets in a red 83' Honda Accord with a mildly embarrassing array of music available from the tapes scattered on the floor of my car.  It was the edge of Houston at the time, with cow pastures in several directions from my house.  Where people in movies fear urban toughs, I was always much more concerned about getting cross-ways with someone in "Rocky Mountain" jeans and a hideously ugly cowboy shirt with a shotgun rack in his pickup. 

Now, I lived in a fairly standard-issue suburban home in a fairly standard neighborhood, and while it would have been cool to have been raised under more exotic circumstances, I don't begrudge it.  Heck, I grew up in a school that competed with the same school and same neighborhoods that inspired Win Butler and Arcade Fire's Grammy Winning album, The Suburbs (I hear ya, Win).

Those cowfields have long ago been sold to developers and turned into tract homes, been replaced with odd corrugated metal buildings housing everything from antique shops to a wide variety of churches to a place I watched an ex-flame get married. 

We were in Spring to celebrate the KareBear's special birthday, and so I was delighted just to be along for the ride.  For the first time since I was six years old, I attended a rodeo (along with my folks, their pals, Jamie, Jason and Amy), and despite my reservations, I confess its an interesting sport and I have to admit that those cowboys have guts that I do not.  Also saw singer Billy Currington play a set. 

your author reacts to figuring out how they get the bulls to jump around like that
Somewhat like any trip I've made to Cabela's sporting goods just south of Austin, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is a bit of a reminder that people come in all different stripes, including the un-ironic Rodeo and Country & Western enthusiast. Out there are many folks who know all the words to Country's version of Top 40, have a wardrobe full of western wear, and who spent their youth in the FFA.

I was also impressed that the rodeo focused on kids and academic scholarships.  While my school didn't have much of an agriculture department, our colleagues down the road at Texas A&M are a global power in all-things ag related, as are the good folks at Texas Tech University northward in Lubbock.  So, there was no small amount of Red Raider and A&M Aggie pride on display, as well as a sort of calf-herding competition for scholarships (which is a heck of a way to get a scholarship, but I am not here to judge).

Almost two-decades since the grand old days of yesteryear, now those same folks that used to make me a little twitchy in Spring just seems like folks in hats and different musical preferences, and I like to think that means I'm less of a judgey jerk than I was circa 1993.

Afterward, we had a lovely dinner at Houston's novelty restaurant The Aquarium.  I know the place isn't exactly a foodie's paradise, but if sea life is interesting to you on both the plate and in a tank, then its worth visiting at least once. 

Jamie is the Jacques Cousteau of touristy dining
The place houses fish as large as Grouper and contains sharks in this enormous aquarium right in the middle of the dining room.

All in all, it was a good time.

Dogs stayed at the Austin Pet Ranch, an absolutely great pet resort on 1826 on the way out to Driftwood.  They have been retrieved, but after two days of running around in the big pens they have at the ranch, Scout and Lucy are now both crashed out on the sofas, where I hope they will remain until tomorrow morning.

Let us all wish a happy birthday to The KareBear, and we'll do something similar next year. 

Happy B-day, Ma!


Anonymous said...

It's always interesting when the small town you grew up in changed. It still floors me when I drive back to my hometown where I grew up in for 15 years and how different it looks now. Back when I grew up you had to drive outside of town limits to hit a bar and there was no liquor sold anywhere. We had one movie theater. It was a big deal when a Chili's opened up in town.

Now there are bars everywhere including of all things, a Duke's Roadhouse that hosted a Girls Gone Wild event last year. In my podunk hometown, not Dallas, not Fort Worth. Unbelievable.


J.S. said...

Wait. Did I see you at the Duke's Girls Gone wild event, NTT? It's all so hazy...