Don’t Mess With Texas

 

Oh boy, if only we knew what to expect from Texas! Wine-making, bat-watching, pool-playing with bikers, social business visiting, 4am curry-cooking with Indians, car-wrecking and instant car-saving, cigar-smoking, eclipse-watching, remote work Skype-talking, Buddhist guru-chanting, beach walking, traffic-fighting… We pretty much experienced the whole emotional spectrum a human person can possibly handle in Texas.

You know you’re in Texas when you get there: ‘Don’t Mess With Texas’ signs are a slight hint, but it mostly has to do with the cowboy hats and the enormous pick-ups raging past you. Texas is tough, but Texas is irresistibly heart-warming, too. You’ll find ladies giving you the finger on the road, and you’ll find lifesavers who pull over as soon as they notice your car got jammed up. You’ll feel like an unwanted stranger when walking into a local honky tonk, or you’ll be invited to stay over for the night within an hour of chatting in the street. You’ll bump into guys bragging about letting women win at pool, but you’ll meet Republican family dads offering marijuana.

We started off our Texan journey in Houston; a bustling, gigantic city where the oil industry and foreign cuisine both thrive. Thanks to Kurt, a German engineer, we smoked Shnaps, chanted cigars, and drank gurus. That was fun.

Then, we headed off to Austin, a hippie island restlessly resisting to surrounding conservative influence. Caroline and Kyle showed us around, and advised us to go to the Colorado Bend Park, where each trail is a magical gate to silver forests, fairyland waterfalls and endless fields of cactuses (or cacti, we’re still not sure). On our way back, we ran into Harkey, a hard-headed Korean war veteran who scribbled some road advice on the back of the San Saba newspaper he writes in. He had already become a good pal when we had to get back and prepare for our next adventure. Off we went to visit Raven + Lily, a social business that is empowering women all over the world through fashion clothing and accessories manufacturing. We also learned all about distributed teams thanks to Kristin from InVision and Todd, founder and CEO of FourKitchens.

We barely had the time to scribble down their processes and best practices: we had to hit the road...

But after the Houston businessmen and the Austin hippies, we wanted to see cowboys. The real ones. So we naturally went to Bandera, the self-declared capital of cowboys. Regardless of what that actually means, we had a blast there. It was all ranches, Harley Davidsons and wineries. That’s right: wineries. This is where it gets interesting. Remember Harkey? He’s the one who had told us about Bandera. So we went there, and met Russ, an ex-bull rider living in his trailer with Buddy, a big dog who lost a paw to some drunk guy shooting at him (cheers to gun control). We also played pool there with Steve and Stephanie, two bikers on vacation, who told us about a post office that also happens to serve beer in Hye Market. So of course, we go there, after casually wrecking the car in a whole on the road, and we meet Jason. He introduces us to Chris, one of the best winemakers of Texas. One thing leading to another, Chris invites us to help harvest grapes in Meadow, which happened to be on our road towards Colorado. Next thing you know, we’re staying at Andy’s house, the business owner. Jerry, a neighbor farmer dropping by to check on the processing of the grapes he supplied, happened to be the farm manager of the biggest nut producer worldwide, and showed us some of his crops. Ironically, despite us being French, we had never really been to a winery. So we can proudly say that we learned about wine making in Texas thanks to meeting Harkey and wrecking the car.But you want to know the really weird part of it all? We drank rosé from a can. Pretty uncanny.

No matter how surprising our stay in Texas turned out to be, we won’t forget Texas anytime soon: its desert, its amazing landscapes, or its heart-warming citizens.

Checklist

> Learn how to make wine in Texas: check
> Start a new buddhist spiritual journey with Kurt: check
> Play pool against (adorable) bikers: check
> Find Fruit Roll Ups: double-check!!!

We liked

> Being called ‘sweetie’ all the time
> Witnessing the flight of the blue heron at Colorado Bend
> The sunrise in Meadow
> Shiner Bock
> Texan small towns
> Texas steaks and tex-mex

We didn't like

> That rude lady giving Sarah the finger – you were the one who was wrong!
> Random holes in backroads
> Leaving Texas

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