Category Archives: Texas

New Iberia

Ivan and I woke up around 8 am on March 14, 2010.  We had already arrived in Galveston, Texas.  Ivan went to the buffet to get some breakfast omelets for us.  We ate them in our room. 

We used the internet.  The announcer let us know that Megan Ham had now left the cruise ship.  We had a great time on the Carnival Conquest cruise ship.  Cruises are a lot of fun! 

I had packed the night before.  Ivan packed up all his things.  We left at 10:35 am.  We got into the line for Customs.  Ivan was in a different line – the Non US citizens line.

One of the Customs guys asked me some questions.  He asked if I was traveling alone.  I said No, I’m traveling with my boyfriend.  He asked Where is he?  I said he’s in that line (the Non US citizens line) and pointed at Ivan.   He said that he would talk to him.  He went over to Ivan and asked him some questions.  Then, he took him to a room.  I was worried about this.  I was thinking the worst like What they deport him?  Then I thought How am I going to drive back to Las Vegas by myself?  Hehe.  I was almost crying.  I really do have a wild imagination.  He did come out maybe 15-20 minutes later. 

He said that they asked about if he gambled on the boat.  They said they have video.  Ivan didn’t gamble at all.  I’m not sure why gambling would be an issue.  I think they were just trying to scare him or something.  But, Ivan said the main guy who pulled him in the room was nice.  There was a black guy in there as well who “tried” to be intimidating.  Ivan thought he watched too many tv cop shows.  I was relieved everything was okay.

We waited for the shuttle to take us to the parking lot.  Ivan started driving the car around 11:45 pm.  We were leaving Galveston, Texas to head to New Iberia, Louisiana.  New Iberia is about 20 miles from Lafayette.

We had to wait for the ferry.  There was lots of cars waiting for the ferry as well.  We finally got to the other side at 1:40 pm.

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Ivan started driving.  We stopped at a Wal-Mart.  We got some food to place in our freezer bag.  I made some chicken sandwiches for us.  It’s basically whole wheat bagel bread, cajun chicken breast slices and Laughing Cow cheese.  It’s really good!

We reached New Iberia in the early evening.  We had dinner at The Boiling Point.  It’s not for it’s boiled shrimp and crawfish.  We don’t really like peeling and cracking shells so we decided to get something else.  Ivan and I shared the mini crab cakes.  We had grilled shrimp and some lovely grilled catfish.  It was really good food!

We checked in to the Ramada in New Iberia.  Thank goodness for free wi-fi!  We used the internet, watched tv and chilled in the room for the rest of the night.

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Off on the Cruise

Ivan and I woke up at 7:30 am on March 7, 2010.  We packed everything up.  Scott wanted us to wake up to say goodbye.  But, we looked to see if he was on the couch but it looked like somebody else.  I don’t like waking people up anyway. We wrote to Scott and Ryan saying thank you and goodbye.

Ivan started driving to Galveston at 8:40 am.  We had to wait for the ferry to go across.  We arrived in the parking lot around 1 pm.  Soon, we’d be off on a cruise for 7 days.  (It’s a sidetrip from our road trip of America)  There’s parking for 7 days for $50 if you book it online.  Otherwise, it’s $55 if you pay for it the same day. 

We got on the shuttle bus to the Carnival Conquest boat.  The porter take your bags.  You just tip then and they take your bags to your room.   We had to wait in line to check in.  It took about 2 hours.  We got the keys.  We dropped things off to the room.  We went to eat at the buffet at 3:15 pm.  The tilapia was really good. 

We went back to the room to wait for the bags.  It takes awhile for the bags to arrive since they come piece by piece. 

Ivan and I checked out the boat.  We saw bars, lounges and restaurants.  It’s a huge boat with 12 floors. 

We thought it was a little dizzying looking out our window and seeing the ocean go by. 

We came back to our room and it was clean.  There was also a animal made out of a towel on our bed. 

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Ivan had read about this online. 

We didn’t get an assigned time for eating.  So, we saw a long line of people at Renoir.  People were trying to get a table.  Ivan thought we’d checked out Monet.  We got a table there at 8:15 pm. 

We started off with a tasty cream of tomato soup and a gazpacho.  We shared two main courses of mahi mahi and a chicken dish with penne pasta.  The mahi mahi wasn’t very flavorful.  The chicken went perfectly with the pasta.  

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Ivan read on the internet about the cult classic favorite dessert the Warm Chocolate Melting Cake.  It’s so heavenly!  The ice cream that comes with it isn’t much though. 

We went to see the Welcome Aboard show.  There was lots of dancing. The cruise director Chris is English.  He was making fun of people that were on stage (for games) but nobody really got it except a few people.

We saw Marc Rubben, a ventriloquist.  He was alright. 

Next, we joined the Around the World Tour at 11 pm.  Three guides took us to a couple bars and lounges.  We ended up singing Summer Nights from Grease at the karaoke bar.  It was guys and girls singing – each side with one microphone.  Our last stop was Henri’s Disco.  It’s the nightclub. 

There was a musical chairs game.  Eight guys volunteered and they were the chairs.  Ivan volunteered for it.  So, the guys went on all fours and the girls would sit on their backs.  I was eliminated the first round. 

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Ivan was the last guy.  I guess he won something.. but he didn’t collect it.  Here’s the video of Ivan in the musical chairs contest:

We started dancing in Henri’s for awhile.  It was pop music playing.

We walked around the boat.  Ivan wanted to go into the jacuzzi.  But, I didn’t have my swim suit with me.  We went back to Henri’s.  The music was hip hop which we don’t like – so we headed back to the room.

Ivan wanted to get some room service.  I still can’t believe it’s free.  Almost all food on board is free.  We saw a coffee shop that charges for coffee and pastries.  I guess it’s independent.  It’s just silly to pay when you can go to the buffet and get desserts, coffee and pastries for free.  We got a chicken fajita sandwich and an open faced shrimp sandwich.  It was really good!

We were so tired and went to sleep. 

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Animal Safari and Houston

Ivan and I packed everything up on March 2, 2010.  Roscoe walked us to our car.  We said goodbye and thanks to Roscoe.  I gave him a big hug.  It was great meeting Roscoe and hanging out with him.  He’s a great guy. 

We started driving at 12:30 pm.  We were headed to a small town called Gruene (pronounced Green).  Ivan read about a good restaurant called Gristmill on Tripadvisor.  We got a seat located outside.  We had a view of the river below.  Ivan and I shared the award-winning tasty tortilla soup.  I was craving a hamburger since I haven’t had one in months.  Ivan and I share a lot of food so I’m vegetarian around him.  He does eat chicken breast and seafood though.  Ivan got the catfish while I got a hamburger.  The food was good!

We walked around the shops in Gruene.  It’s a small town. 

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We went inside Gruene Hall, the oldest dance hall in Texas.  Too bad we weren’t there at night, because that’s when they have live music.  

Ivan drove us to Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch.  It’s an African safari where you can drive through and feed the animals in your car.  It’s cool because some of the animals actually come to you and stick their head in the window of the car. 

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We saw all kinds of animals like zebras, deer, donkeys and llamas. 

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Ivan was feeding a zebra and the zebra grabbed his bag of animal food.  How funny!  The zebra could have taken off with it.  But, Ivan came out of the car and the zebra ran away.  Ivan got his bag back.  We went to the petting zoo.  We got to feed goats and baby goats there.  The will jump on you and run into you – so you have to be careful. 

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Some of the goats kept chewing on Ivan’s jumper and the tassels on the jumper.  I’m not sure why though.

Ivan started driving to Houston at 4:30 pm.  We arrived at the couchsurfer’s apartment at 8:20 pm.  The turnoffs on the freeways can be very confusing.  So, we ended up taking a wrong turn.  We met Ashish and Melanie.  Ashish asked if we had eaten dinner.  I said we hadn’t.  Melanie cooked us some tasty shrimp pasta.  We talked awhile.  We started playing games on the Wii like canoeing, tennis and table tennis.

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Walking around San Antonio

Ivan and I walked to Bill Miller BBQ on March 1, 2010.  Roscoe recommended it for good bbq.  We each got a bbq chicken sandwich.  We thought it was okay.  We didn’t think the bbq sauce tasted that good.

We met our tour guide at The Alamo.

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We were headed on a San Antonio Walks tour.  Our tour guide Gary talked pretty much the whole time.  It was so interesting to hear all about The Alamo and also the history of San Antonio.  The weather was weird today.  It started showering for a few minutes and then it was sunny again.  It was a bit cold out as well.  We walked around the downtown area during the tour.

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Also, along the Riverwalk and the La Villita area.  We enjoyed the tour.

We walked around San Antonio.  We walked through the shops in La Villita.  We stopped at a shop to get some Blue Bell ice cream.  My friend Amy told me I need to try some.  We had the chocolate and it tasted really good!  I wanted to take pictures of The Alamo.  It’s free to walk inside the Alamo.  You’re not allowed to wear hats since it’s considered a holy place (it used to be a chapel).  It’s crazy to imagine less than 200 people against 4,000 Mexicans.  Those are bad odds!  Those men were definitely brave.

We walked back to the hotel to chill.  Ivan and I did our laundry at the coin-operated machines.

I called Roscoe to see if he was ready to go to dinner.  Ivan, Roscoe and I walked to the Riverwalk.  We were checking out the restaurants.  Ivan wanted to go to Joe’s Crab Shack.  Some of the restaurants on the Riverwalk are too expensive.  Ivan and Roscoe have never been to Joe’s.  I’ve been to one in Las Vegas.  Ivan and I shared a big Shark Bite drink that’s meant for two people.

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Ivan and I shared the crab stuffed mushrooms and the seafood platter.  The seafood platter came with tilapia, a crab cake and malibu shrimp.  The food was delicious!

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Ivan, Jennifer and Roscoe

Roscoe walked us to Howl at the Moon.  We said good night to Roscoe.

Howl at the Moon is a bar that has dueling pianos.  The cover charge is $5 per person.  We went inside and found a table near the stage.

It was a guy and a girl on two pianos.  They sounded alright.  They played lots of requests like Santeria by Sublime and I’m Yours by Jason Mraz.

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Colombian Food and San Antonio

Ivan and I woke up around noon on February 28, 2010.  Erika and Sara slept in.  We were thinking of headed to San Antonio as soon as we could.  Erika asked if we wanted to eat Colombian food and then hypnosis.  We said that we would join them for Colombian food since we didn’t have much time.  Both of us have never eaten Colombian food before.  Erika told us she didn’t want us to leave.

Ivan drove to Casa Colombia.  Erika and Sara ordered a few starters.  The plantains with cheese inside was really good.  Juli and Mark met us there.

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Ivan and I shared the arroz con pollo and the tilapia.  The arroz con pollo was delicious.  Really good food!  It was great chatting to Erika, Sara, Juli and Mark.

We had a great time staying with Erika and Sara.  They really made us feel welcome in their home.  We felt like part of their circle of friends.  They’re lots of fun!

We started driving to San Antonio around 5:20 pm.  We did stop at Wal-Mart to grab a few things.  We arrived at 6:45 pm.  We met up with Roscoe at The Morris.  Roscoe is a guy I met on the internet years ago.  We always keep up with each other’s blogs and we chat via Twitter.  He has an apartment at The Morris.  Some of the rooms are set up as hotel rooms.  He got us a hotel room for 2 nights and he paid for it.  He’s such a nice guy.  He also stocked our refrigerator with food and drinks.  The Daves (the two monkeys we’re traveling with) were happy since Roscoe bought them bananas. 

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Roscoe showed us around The Morris.  We chatted for a few minutes in his apartment.  We asked if he wanted to join us for dinner later.  He said yes.  He knew of a 24 hour place nearby.

We put our backpacks in the room and unpacked.  We also took showers.

It was raining when we met in the lobby around 10 pm.  Roscoe brought an umbrella.  Ivan and Roscoe used the umbrella.  My jacket has a hood.   Rain was getting on my eyeglasses though.

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We walked a few blocks to the colorfully decorated Mi Tierra – a Tex Mex restaurant.  Ivan and I shared the chicken quesadilla and chicken fajitas.  The margaritas are very good there.  We chatted with Roscoe for awhile.  He’s a cool guy.  We walked back to The Morris.

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Cool Junk

Ivan was around up when I woke up around 2 pm on February 27, 2010.

Ivan and I went to lunch with Erika, Sara and their friend Reese at Whole Foods.  It’s buffet style with healthy food.  They had the best tomato chipotle soup.  The food was really good!

I drove us to the Cathedral of Junk.

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It’s located in a local man’s backyard.  He started putting hubcabs up on the fence in 1989.  Now, it has amassed to a huge structure filled with all sorts of junk like street signs, bikes, computer mice, old AOL discs, toys, glass bottles, etc.  The items are all wired together.  You can climb up it and sit down in different places.  Look around to find places that you can climb up or go down.

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It’s a lot bigger than I thought it would be!  It’s really cool!  If you’re ever in Austin, you have to check it out!

We chilled at Zilker Park for a few minutes.  We drove back to Erika and Sara’s apartment.  We got ready since we’d be headed to 6th street.

We wanted to see Esther’s Follies.  Esther’s Follies was sold out, but they have a standby line.  We met a guy from Houston who was with his wife and 3 kids in the line.   He was very friendly.  He talked to Ivan about our travels.  We were the 6th and 7th person in line.  We got in to the Esther’s Follies show.  It’s a vaudeville show.  We didn’t get some of the Texan politics jokes.  It’s filled with short skits and magic tricks.  Some of the skits had popular songs with their own words.  It was really funny.’There’s a window in the back of the stage that shows the sidewalk.  They used the window a lot.. sometimes they had part of the show out there.

We decided to check out 6th Street.  It’s filled with lots of bars and a few restaurants.  It’s very touristy.  There was lots of young people around.  We stopped at Extreme Pita.  Ivan and I each had a tasty pita.

We didn’t feel like drinking so we didn’t go inside any of the bars.

We started driving back the apartment.  Erika called to ask if we wanted to come to Juli and Dani’s house.  Erika and Sara didn’t end up going to the Zombie party they were invited to.   They ended up having a party at Juli and Dani’s house.

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Me, Juli and Dani

We saw some of their friends from the night before and we also met some new people.  Most of their friends introduced themselves to us.  Ivan did some magic tricks.  We had some red wine.  I was so tired.  We headed back around 2:30 am.

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Austin

Ivan and I said thank you and goodbye to Ramano on February 26, 2010.  We decided to stop for lunch at La Duni in Dallas.  It’s a Latin cafe.  Ivan and I shared French Toast and a Gaucho Chicken Breast sandwich there.  The food was good there.

We started driving towards Austin at 11:40 am.  We stopped at West for a Czech bakery.  We wanted to try a kolache.  They have them with mostly meats.  But, there were some with sweet stuff inside.  Ivan thought it might be good.  Unfortunately, it was salty and sweet.  It didn’t taste good at all!

We arrived in Austin at 3:40 pm.  The couchsurfers Erika and Sara weren’t home yet.  So, we decided to do some sightseeing.  Ivan read about South Congress Avenue.  It’s a cool street filled with very unique shops like Monkey See, Monkey Do!, Uncommon Objects, Tesoro’s Trading Co. and a cool costume shop (can’t recall the name).  Our favorite shop was Monkey See, Monkey Do!  The two monkeys who are travelling with us (The Daves – Big Dave and son Lil Dave) loved it as well!  The Daves do their own thing – always something monkey related!

We talked to Erika on the phone.  She told us that she would be getting off earlier.  So, she said we could come to her apartment in an hour.  She recommended that we try Home Slice Pizza.  It’s supposedly the best pizza in the city.

We walked to Home Slice Pizza.  Ivan ordered two slices: Margherita and eggplant.  The Margherita tasted better.  The pizza was good but not fantastic.

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We saw the Hey Cupcake! van.  We bought a chocolate cupcake for Erika there.

Erika got a flat tire.  We waited a few minutes near their apartment and used the internet.  Erika called and told us that her sister Sara was home, so we could go to their apartment. 

We met Sara.  She’s a sweet girl who’s going to college at UT.  Erika arrived later on.  She’s also very friendly.  They asked if we wanted to go to their friend Reese’s surprise party.  It was Texas themed.  So, they were going to dress like Texans and wear hats since his last name has hat in it.

We yelled Surprise! and blew on our noisemakers.  Reese was definitely surprised.

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They made him a Texas shaped cake and decorated it with the Texas flag on it.  How cool!

Erika and Sara’s friends were very friendly and liked to chat.  It was great.  Ivan and I drank some Mike’s Hard Spiced Apple that we brought.  It was really good!

Somebody thought we should head to a bar.  The bars in Texas stop serving alcohol at 2 am.  Ivan and I thought it was silly to go since it was already almost 1 am.  One of Erika’s friends drove us to the 04 Lounge.

It was pretty crowded in the bar.  Ivan bought some drinks.  Most of Erika and Sara’s friends smokes so we were outside hanging out with them.  It was a little cold out.

The bartender said that it was 2 am and that everybody had to finish their drink and come inside.  It’s so weird to me and Ivan that the bar closes so early.  We’re used to Las Vegas where bars are 24 hours or  they close really late.

We went back to Reese’s condo.  Ivan and I danced to the music that was playing.  Somebody didn’t like the dance music and put some boring Otis Redding on.   It was a really fun night.  I’m not sure where the time went.  I fell asleep for a little while.  We went back around 6 am.  Ivan and I pulled out the mattress in the sofa and went to bed around 6:45 am.

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Tex Mex Cowboys

Ivan and I went to Chuy’s for lunch on February 25, 2010.  Ramano recommended it.   It’s known for good Tex Mex cuisine.  Ivan and I shared the chicken enchilada and chicken fajita burrito.

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Big as Your Face Burrito

The chicken fajita is huge.  It was really great food!  We were so stuffed when we left.

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We stopped at a McDonald’s that’s shaped like a happy meal.  Inside, it’s very nice with wood paneling on the booths.

Ivan drove us to Arlington.  We got to the Dallas Cowboys stadium.  We bought tickets for the tour.  Our tour guide was very informative.  He had a thick Texan accent which reminded me of George W. Bush.  The stadium is the biggest sports arena in the world.

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The stadium was getting ready for a monster truck event.  So, there was no grass down.  It’s a huge place!  We went into the Dallas Cowboys dressing room and the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders dressing room.  The dressing room is underground.

We drove back to Ramano’s house.

We went to eat with Ramano at Vermont Tangos.  Most of the dishes are for sharing.  Ramano ordered four dishes:  sweet potato fries, hummus, chicken and waffles and sea bass skewers.  All the dishes tasted awesome!  It was the first time that Ivan and I tried chicken and waffles.  We had a drink each: a Victor Tangos and a Passionfruit Gimlet.  They tasted really good!  A few couchsurfers Ramano knows joined our table.

We went to another bar called Capitol Pub.  We just chatted there.  Ramano’s friends played darks.  We had a glass of red wine there.

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Dallas

Ivan and I said thank you and goodbye to Jeff on February 24, 2010.  He’s a really friendly guy who likes to talk.  We started driving to Dallas at 11:30 am.  We stopped at Wal-Mart to grab some food.  When we arrived in Texas, there was a rest stop with lots of Texas information.  Apparently, there’s free wi-fi as well. 

We arrived in Dallas at 3:30 pm.  Ivan drove to the downtown area.  We went to the Sixth Floor Museum.  It talks about John F. Kennedy and his assassination.  It was really interesting.  I found it a bit sad though.

We were getting hungry.  Ivan was looking for food places in the GPS unit.  He saw Dick’s Last Resort.  We decided to drive there and see if there was anything good to eat nearby.

We parked near Dick’s.  There wasn’t much selection so we decided to eat at Dick’s.  Dick’s Last Resort is a restaurant is where the servers are rude to you.  They make witty, humorous comments to you.  They also make hats with funny things on them. 

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Our waiter started out rude but then became nice.  We ordered the salmon and a side order of catfish to share.  The catfish was good and the salmon was alright.

We drove to the couchsurfer’s house we’d be staying with.  We talked a little bit to Ramano.  He took us to a bar called Barcadia.  It’s filled with 80’s arcade games, skeeball and big jenga games.  We met Ramano’s friends.  Ivan and I ordered hummus to share and each had a glass of wine.  We played a few games of Street Fighter II. 

We all went to another bar nearby called The Corner Bar.  It’s really noisy in there.  People were singing really bad karaoke.  The main room was way too noisy.  We stayed there for little while.  Ivan, me and Ramano headed back to Ramano’s house.

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The Way to Amarillo

It was snowing on February 21, 2010 in Santa Fe.  We started walking to the plaza and it started snowing even harder.  We wanted to check out Tia Sophia’s but it was closed since it was Sunday.  Apparently, a lot of things are closed on Sunday in Santa Fe. 

We walked to Cafe Pascual and decided to eat there.  There was a wait so Ivan put his name on the waiting list.  It only took a few minutes to get a table since people left.  We ordered a quesadilla and huevos motuleños to share.  The food was okay and pricey.

We walked to the Loretto Chapel.  It’s $3 for entry.  It’s known for the Miraculous Staircase.  It was actually features on the tv show Unsolved Mysteries.  This staircase was built by a carpenter in 1877. 

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Apparently, the staircase was made of wood that’s unknown to man.  Also, it was built without nails or any central support.  Nobody saw how the staircase was created.  The story also states that the carpenter disappeared before they could ask him how it was made.  The stairs has 33 stairs, the age of Jesus Christ when he  died.  The railings were added later on and also a support that connects it to the wall.  The chapel is pretty inside.

Ivan started driving towards Amarillo, Texas.  It was raining or snowing a lot during the beginning of our trip.  We made our way to Madrid and made a short stop.  We went inside Cowgirl Red.  There was a lady who had a place that had lots of weird art.  Unfortunately, she was convicted since she couldn’t pay her rent.  Two of her art pieces are inside Cowgirl Red. 

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The art was a motorcycle made out of human bones.  It looks pretty cool!

A few years ago, Peter Kay (a comedian in England) remade the song Is this the Way to Amarillo?  It was really popular.  So, Ivan wanted to stop there because of this song.  We did play the song a couple times before arriving in Amarillo. 

We stopped at Love’s travel shop.  Ivan asked a lady there Is this the way to Amarillo?  He thought that either the person would be annoyed since they’ve heard that question a lot or tell him the way.  The lady said You’re in Amarillo.  He said where’s the town?  She said it’s down the highway that way (and she pointed). 

We arrived in Amarillo at 8:30 pm.  We drove to the Big Texan Hotel.  The rooms are set like an old town with colorful buildings.

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We wanted to eat at their Big Texan Steak Ranch restaurant.  Ivan asked the rate at the hotel.  The lady said it was $69 plus tax for two people.  Ivan somehow talked her down to $50 with tax.  That’s a deal!

We went to the Big Texan Steak Ranch.  It’s known for the 72 oz. steak meal (with salad, shrimp, 2 rolls and dessert) that’s offered free if you can eat it for under an hour – otherwise you pay $55.  There was a guy who was attempting to eat it.  You can check out their webcam  showing people trying to eat the big steak online.  We ordered the 1 lb. catfish dish and a chicken salad to share.  It was delicious!  We had a friendly waiter named Josh. 

It was snowing lightly while we walked back to our room.  We watched some television and then went to sleep.

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