Fort Worth, Dallas & College Station
Wednesday 13th September 2017- London Heathrow to Dallas Fort Worth Intl.
After watching arguably the worst film made this side of the of the millennium- The Mummy (The Tom Cruise one) we left Dallas Ft. Worth with a sense of excitement, elation and a thirst for beer....That was until we were declined our rental car for failing to show a credit card (Apparently you need one of them?). After debating this with a powerless Avis representative, we upped sticks an ordered an Uber, this was a battle for another day (Well, tomorrow).
For our time in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, we stayed with Jen & Patrick, a young couple who were unbelievably hospitable. They gave us this great recommendation for a few first evening beers and a burger whilst some sport in a really cool bar- The Bearded Lady.
After some much needed sleep and an hour on the phone to the latest recruit of The Only Way is Essex at Avis, we ventured into downtown Dallas with both a purpose and a reservation (but most importantly- Ben's credit card).
Being both a Philadelphia Eagles (Ben) and New England Patriots (Joel) fan there wasn't a whole lot of a draw to the AT&T Stadium Tour.....Asides the 100,000 seats, 55m long TV screen, a chance to debate whether our U14s football skill would allow us to kick a field goal from 45 yards (of course it wouldn't) or running out that famous tunnel pretending we were Jerry Jones' new backup long snapper. What an experience that was.
That evening we followed the impressiveness of AT&T Stadium up with the un-impressiveness of the Texas Rangers (They lost 10-4 to the Seattle Mariners). 3 highlights of the evening in no particular order were…
A Texan waving a foam finger aggressively
A Republican stating to a Liberal that 'Snowflakes melt down here'
The following morning the Four Bases bandwagon moved on. After a quick pitstop at the local Maplin where we armed ourselves with an aux cord (For this fire playlist) and chocolate pretzels, we hit the road with College Station set in the sat nav. We had both pencilled the day in as a rather slow day driving through rural Texas. How wrong we were. The drive was absolutely brilliant. We stopped for lunch at a great little spot in Waco (Olive Branch) before playing a few local Texans at pool in Cameron.
We arrived in College station around 5pm local time, where we were greeted with an exceptionally hospitable host, Amanda and her fiancé, Patrick (There is a common theme here). Amanda immediately gave us a great recommendation for some Friday night food and beers: Blackwater Draw Brew.
After a few beers and a great grilled cheese, myself and Ben found each other in the Friday night A&M joint, Dixie Chicken. Imagine a Cowboy saloon, sprinkled with university students, $5 pitchers of beer, pool tables, sports screens and a pet rattlesnake for good measure. We had truly died and gone to heaven. It was here we befriended some brilliant guys from Texas A&M, the local university. I say befriended, I mean originally hustled on the pool table. The guys; Justin, Aaron, David, Rocky and guy who drunk for 3 consecutive days and was a genuine look-alike for Rob Gronkowski. After a mutual agreement for using our accent in talking to girls and them buying the beers, we hit Chimmy’s bar. The local spot for Margarita’s. Thats where this story ends largely due to it being where out memory ends. Chimmy’s is good. Lets leave it at that.
The following morning we had arranged to meet the guys from the night before to tailgate (A US tradition of pre-drinking and eating before a sporting event in the car park). With a rather cloudy head and a hunger for breakfast taco’s we called an Uber and met the guys outside Kyle Field at just after 9am. We were greeted by their whole fraternity (100+) , dozens of cases of beer, coolers and coolers of mimosas and a barbecue full of breakfast taco’s. This was the life. This was Texas.
The Aggies dismantled the Louisiana Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns by a score of 45-21 giving the Aggies their second win on the season and 2 fans for life in myself and Ben.
After an afternoon of drinking and eating which continued late into the early hours it was time to move on. The Four Bases wagon rolled onto Austin. After a slow start and a big breakfast we meandered across state to Austin. Upon arrival we dumped our bags and headed out to explore the latest city. One of my (Joel) favourite TV shows of all time is Friday Night Lights, which just so happened to be set in Austin. Before going for dinner we decided to get an uber to the address where Matt Saracen lived with his grandmother in the TV series…..only for it to have been demolished once we got there. My heart was broken, and could only be cured by one thing. Beer and fajitas at Iron Cactus. We followed the fantastic Mexican up with Sunday night football (Packers @ Falcons) in a local bar before eventually succumbing to the tiredness from our College station exertions. Our time in Texas was done.
We dropped our car at Austin airport and boarded a plane for San Diego. It was time to see what California and the Golden State had in store for us. We landed about 11am local time and ordered an uber for out Air BnB. This time our host was Mayra and what a place it was. Located in the gaslight district we within walking distance of all of the bars, pubs, restaurants and PETCO park it gave us everything we wanted and more.
With an early night in us and refreshed with the Californian sun, we immediately dropped off our bags and headed out to the local Mexican bar for lunch. It quickly turned into a little more than lunch as sat, basking in the sun with cold beers and fresh fish taco’s on demand. We could get use to this life. As life passed us by and the afternoon slowly went, we debated what to do. In reality, there was only one thing to do. The San Diego Padres were at home to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Sorted.
After picking up a few cheap tickets on Stubhub, we wandered down to PETCO park, a baseball stadium we mutually agreed was the most beautiful park we had yet been lucky enough to visit. A warm September breeze, a gorgeous sunset, America’s past time and a Stella Artois bar. We were truly at home. Thanks to a Hunter Renfroe 3 run home run, the Padres jumped out to an early lead and didn't look back. Nor did we, we walked the perimeter of the park sitting in every section and watching the sunset before purchasing ourself on the grass mound in centre field. It is days and evenings like this which really put reason into saving up for 11 months and following this great sport. Whilst our friends and family were waking up to get into their cars or onto their trains, we sat in shorts and t-shirts sipping a cold beer watching September baseball. Perfect.
The coming days consisted of breaking a taco eating record at the same local Mexican joint, walking around the beautiful city, shopping and lunching/drinking by the Marina.
Our final day in San Diego was spent on Pacific beach, home of the beach babe and 2 pasty white fellas from the South of England. After an afternoon of roasting on the white sand, we fell off the beach into a So.Cal beach bar. Margaritas, Mojitos and nachos were well and truly the order of the day. Whilst the sun had set, Ben had managed to find an absolute beach of an eatery. Mitch’s Seafood, home of the 2 pint beer. One thing lead to another and fresh fish turned to fresh beer in an Patricks Irish Bar back in San Diego. It was only apt, given the fact we had met 3 different Patrick’s over the course of the first 10 days. It was here we would meet the man of the trip. Enter Zeek….
A common view about our trips when we return home, is that they are often over before we have had a chance to soak them all in. It was because of this that we decided to add on a few slower paced days onto the back end of the trip….in the college party capital of the US. We had rented a perfectly little condo with a pool, 48” flat screen TV complete with cable and within walking distance to the strip of Arizona State University bars. Yeah, I think we were at home here.
The week consisted of sitting round the pool soaking up some desert rays, drinking Bud lite watching college football on the affirmed mentioned TV screen and walking to the nearby strip of bars to teach some of our American friends how to drink lager.
By the time Saturday came around, we were ready for our next bout of live sport. This time it was Arizona State Sun Devils playing host to the Oregon Ducks live under the Saturday night lights. Now remember the friend we met in San Diego, Zeek? Well not only was he a season ticket holder in the stadium, but also in the parking lot with his barbecue. Our new found acquaintance had been kind enough to invite us to his pregame tailgate in the sunshine along with his buddies and family. What an experience it was. Hotdogs, burgers, bratwursts, wings, chicken, mac’n’cheese were just a few examples of the spread put on by Zeek & his pals. Well more his pals, Seek just gave us cold beer and flipped burgers on the BBQ whilst we chucked a football about with his kids and friends. To this day, I (Joel) don't think I could ever say how grateful I was for the experience. It makes you realise sometimes its the simple things that bring the most joy and fulfilment. That jay being a 30 degree sunset, a barbecue, a cold beer and a football. Thank you Zeek.
The night got better, the Sun Devils beat the top 20 ranked Ducks in the last minute in front of a capacity crowd in the last minute. The jubilation was enormous and only deserved to be celebrated with more alcohol. Into tempe we headed.
It just so happened that we had managed to bump into a couple of Marines and A Texan that we had met the night before in a bar. Jordan, Terrence ‘and Blade were on a trip much like ours, 3 old friends meeting up for a weekend of beers, sport and well beers. I think that is all I can say about this story online in a public domain, however it did end in a local karaoke bar with the 2 English kids murdering ‘Wonderwall- Oasis’. Not the first time thats ever happened.
For our sins, the consequences of the prior nights shenanigans was a hangover from hell. What better way to round the trip off and to cure our hangovers than a trip to the ballpark complete with a foot long hotdog. As us Brits say. Wallop.