Getting to know a Honky Tonk named Billy Bob

The last paragraph of the previous blog mentioned us leaving the pharmacy and walking across the car park to the car….that’s when it happened.  Ty said to me ‘Look at how this truck is parked, no one can get around her’ as I looked around to see what he meant I tripped and fell.  Yes, Sir Lunchalot and Gorging Gonz, I tripped again and this time I didn’t damage my ankle I damaged both knees…blood everywhere. What is it with me and holidays?  I seem to either get a horrid cold/infection or fall over. This time I’ve managed both so perhaps I could look at it that I must now be cured of these holiday annoyances. I’m being positive and thinking this to be the case. Oh, and to clarify, the truth wasn’t what we Aussies think of as a truck but a ute (think those large Toyota Utes) on a case of steroids.  Yes, I did get a look at it as Ty helped me up off the roadway, placed me in the car and hurried back to the store to purchase antibiotic cream and band aids.

Returning to the hotel I walked by people as quickly as possible hoping to get to the lifts before the blood started running down my legs again. What a mess I was!  About 2 hours later,  wounds cleaned, disinfected and band aids applied, change of clothing (pants not skirt) we headed towards the historical Stockyards area of Fort Worth.

Traffic was bad, didn’t matter what time of day, every lane on every flyover (overpass/underpass) was heavy with traffic…we decided they didn’t have a real peak period it was a continual peak. We won’t complain about our commute anymore…well for at least a week or two after we return home or until the first accident causes major traffic chaos.

Forty five minutes later we drove into the carpark behind Billy Bob’s. We paid the man $15 for parking and purchased the tickets for the concert at the box office just inside the main door of the bar….$16 per person for this country artist and his band that we’d never heard of.  Well let’s be more specific, Ty had never heard of him, I’m certainly not a country music officianado. It was more the atmosphere of the place that Ty was trying to convey to me and seeing a live concert would help. Tickets purchased we then decided to go back to the historic Stockyard Station area for a wander, a little shopping and to find a place to have some food.

FW Stockyards

We needed to be back at BB’s by 8pm for our cultural evening of all things country and suddenly it was almost 7pm. “Ok, we need to find somewhere to eat, have you had enough of shopping?” Ty said. Does a shopper ever have enough of shopping? Silly question but I knew he was keen to get to BB’s so I put down whatever I was looking at and we headed out the door to find food. It soon became clear that choices of food in this area of the historical part of town were in short supply.  The busiest place was an indoor/outdoor eatery named Bullock Burger. Fabulous, I thought, but not many other choices down here so let’s do it.  They had White Zinfandel on their menu…place can’t be too bad! Oh yes it can….my wine was served in a plastic glass.  “One consolation” I whispered to Ty, “is they don’t measure the alcohol serving”. My plastic glass was full.

When we left the Stockyard Station and commenced the walk to BB’s ithe temperature was still in the high 90’s at 7.40pm.  The whole area was buzzing with families and couples, a number of walking tour groups passed us and buskers were on most corners. One Texan couple had two steers tethered to a fence wearing saddles with a sign offering people to have their photos taken sitting on them, for a price of course.  I felt sorry for the cattle.

I had never seen so many cowboy hats and cowboy boots being worn in one place by both genders.  It was fabulous, great atmosphere, trucks of all sizes and colours being driven around the streets. A large number looked to me to as big as a semi trailer cab. I couldn’t drive one ‘cos I’m sure I wouldn’t be able to see through the windscreen although my initial problem would be getting into the truck itself. I’d need a stepladder or a leg up every time. It also amused me when we saw a car with 2 people in the front seat both wearing their cowboy hats…both hates almost touched in such closeness so it looked quite comical.  No one removed their hats when they were indoors either.

As we passed by an indoor rodeo arena we noticed a very old truck parked at the front, it’s claim to fame was being owned by a 1970’s rodeo I champion. Not sure, if, over 40 years later, it’s still relevant but given I’m not a follower of rodeo riders and their championships who knows.  We still took photos with the old truck! Placed next to the newer Dodge RAM 2500 this li’l old red beaten up thing would look like a Tonka toy.

Arriving at our destination Ty opens the main entrance door to Billy Bob’s and stands back as I walk in and my cultural evening of all things country begins….beer, cowboys, cowgirls, country music, bull riding, fried foods and country music.  The man checking our tickets said, as he stamped our hand, ‘Y’all enjoy yourself tonight’.

As we round the corner of the hallway we find ourselves in a wide open space. A little further on and to the left is the large gift shop, on the right, the indoor rodeo ring and seating on both sides for spectators.  There are 2 championship shows a night on Friday and Saturdays at $4 per person entry. Of course it wasn’t a straight walk in to the arena we had to pass the small rodeo hall of fame on the way. Back out into the main section of the bar there were games machines, not poker or slot machines, the type where you put your money in and try to pick up some toy or chocolate bar.  This was Texas so what do you think, dear reader, would be in one of the game machines?  Cowboy hats, foam oversize cowboy hats, all colours of the rainbow and you might think they’re so large they’d be easy to pick up and hold but we watched a few people try and fail. We moved on to the bar area….now forget your normal small pub bar area think of you favourite drinking hole bar and triple it at least.  That was the main bar but there were also 30 serving stations. I’ll now list some of the other areas found in Billy Bob’s, the largest Honky Tonk in the world.

Chrome house band

  • capacity for up to 6000 people
  • free Line dancing classes
  • live bands every weekend
  • a pool hall with around 12 pool tables
  • a photo stop
  • a large dance floor
  • 2 banquet rooms
  • meeting rooms
  • permanent main stage plus another stage used by the house bands
  • Honky Tonk kitchen including a pizza kitchen, a Texas BBQ and private dining space

The main stage act was Sam Riggs and his band.  Naturally I’d never heard of him but, surprisingly, nor had Ty but thousands of others had because when we purchased our tickets there wasn’t a lot of seats left in the main stage area.  The main act didn’t come on till 10pm so we had plenty to keep us occupied until then.  The house band for this week was “Chrome”.  Apparently house bands play for a week and any band can apply to be the house band of the week by sending a demo cd.

After wandering around this huge venue we settled at a table at the edge of the dance floor and secondary stage to listen to the house band.  Ty went to get the drinks and came back with a vodka and orange for me instead of a wine.  He laughed as he told me the barmans’ reaction when he asked what choice of wines they had. The barman looked at him as if he had 2 heads then replied ‘Wine? Y’all can’t drink wine here, this is a Honky Tonk, we serve beer and spirits’.  I drank vodka for the rest of the evening!

The people watching was amazing, the way the girls/women dressed, many in pretty little dresses and cowboy boots, or tiny shorts with diamonties on the pockets and belts with a sparkly top, cowboy hat and boots.  Age was no barrier to what you wore with your cowboy boots.  The boys and men wore their cowboy boots and hats with jeans or trousers and even shorts.  Young or old, it didn’t matter, once that country music started they were all on the floor dancing pretty much the same country style of dancing.  There was the professional couple who glided around the floor in perfect step to the music, the couple who seemed terrified of what they were doing that she never smiled at all, seemed like she was there under sufferance and had a definite cat’s bum look. Her partner seemed to be concentrating very hard…I decided they were learners still counting the steps.  There was the twenty something professional in tiny shorts and tank top stretched over her largish body very much in demand by several male dancers.  I was surprised by the number of teenage couples and couples in their early twenties taking to the floor and dancing to the music.  The music Chrome was playing  is what I think of as country rock, not the slow ‘found your dog, got the wife back and the Chevy truck managed to start again today’ type of slit your wrist stuff.  Upbeat country and the dancers loved every minute of it, except for the couple counting their steps and looking terrified.

The first championship rodeo was starting at 9pm so we decided to divert to the rodeo arena.  We watched about 5 rodeo riders strut their stuff and 4 time out of 5 the bull won… However, rider and bull 6 burst into the ring and this bull was a little angrier than the previous ones.  He threw the rider almost trampled on him and stomped on one of the diversionary clowns. Rodeo arena He bailed up the other clown and refused to leave the ring.  He threw dirt up and chased anyone who tried to move him out of the ring.  Eventually they sent in another bull assuming he would head back out the gate and the crabby one would follow.  Not so, they ganged up and kicked dirt all over the patrons sitting behind them as they snorted and stomped from one side of the arena to the other.  These bulls were enjoying themselves only looking up to charge anyone who tried to remove them. Things were at a stalemate. After 10 minutes an announcement was made saying the championship was called off because they needed to remove the Bulls from the arena.

Wandering back to the main bar area it was very clear the whole place was starting to fill up and eventually it was time to move to the main showroom area (just behind the secondary stage). Before this the house band played a song that had as many patrons as possible attempting to get a spot on the dance floor for a group line dance. Once again we were surprised at the ages of many of the line dancers but then again it’s Texas and it’s total country unlike Australia with small pockets of country music fans. Quite an amazing sight.

We sat back to watch the crowd moving in to main stage and noted it was a mix of ages from late teens to late 70’s maybe even 80 year olds.  Whoever this Sam Riggs is he’s popular with everyone. We thought that it might be a sign that it was going to be a good night and also unusual because, in general, the younger generation may like some of the middle aged rockers or country music stars especially if they grew up with their parents listening to these artists but not usual that someone in their 70’s might be interested in a young country music up and coming. As Ty said, this is Texas and I’m learning things are different in Texas!  In a good and interesting way.

It was 30 minutes over the start time when the band stepped out onto the stage, the crowd went wild, we looked at each other in surprise, when suddenly the screams and shouting in the room grew in it’s intensity.  Sam Riggs, the main act, had stepped up through the smoke haze onto a raised dais.  A young man who thanked the room for helping him get to where he is today.  The crowd went wild again.  I was astounded, I hadn’t heard screams like this since Ty took me to see Tim McGraw in Sydney and he is a ‘big’ name in country music.  I was also surprised by age of crowd and their reactions at Sydney concert.  A member of the group of people sitting on our table obviously knew the guitarist as he kept waving and yelling at him to get his attention telling his companions how nervous he would be.   Eventually the guitarist acknowledged him and that seemed to satisfy his ego.

 The crowd knew the words to all the songs, there were no slow songs (thank goodness) and there appeared to be no responsible service of alcohol as some of the females around us became quite drunk falling over people, taking seats that weren’t there’s and just being a nuisance. Apart from a few incidences everyone was in a grand mood and enjoying the evening.  Half way through the event the singer stopped to ‘God Bless America and all our prayers are with the families of the Policemen shot’ he went on to say respect your police force, look after your fellow Americans and more patriotic words of encouragement.  That small diversion from music almost brought the house down.

We left Billy Bob’s around 1.30 am and I have to say we both had a great time – one of the most entertaining night outs I’ve had for awhile.  The place is extraordinary, I’ve seen lots of bars on my travels but nothing like this place.  I enjoyed the music and the people watching.  If you’re ever in Fort Worth this is one place you should go…especially on a Friday or Saturday night….it seems to be the only place in Fort Worth to be.

So what’s a Honky Tonk….there are some slightly different definitions; a loud, rowdy bar  typically full of hillbillies enjoying country music or a cheap noisy nightclub or it can refer to a type of music.  To me it’s all of the above  it was loud, there were a few hillbillies and it was definitely noisy but it’s the best fun…..y’all gotta do it.

Plus, the people of Texas are so very friendly…









Gas Monkey, Flyovers and The Medical Centre

Gas Monkey

Gas Monkey

This morning we had a leisurely breakfast whilst deciding our plan for the day. There was no rush to see lots of attractions….Ty had 2 on his list, Gas Monkey Garage and Billy Bob’s.  I wanted to go back to the historical Stockyard area and, as Billy Bob’s was there we decided to head out later in the day. A little bit of shopping would be acceptable as well.  However, I had left home without a prescription tablet I required so we needed to find a medical centre.

Gas Monkey Garage was voted first on the list given it was on the other side of Dallas from where we were staying.  The drive was about 45 minutes, over, under and around lots of flyovers and then through the suburbs.

The GPS took us to the address without any trouble.  As we turned into the street we could see the car park was full of people wandering around near the gift shop and others looking through a very high wire mesh fence towards the workshop.  Yes, they have the applicable gift shop. I also noticed a number of other businesses had signs up forbidding parking by Gas Monkey visitors.  Obviously a popular stop on a man’s bucket list. Boys Toys.  As I said above there were 2 sections to the complex with a large fence separating the visitor car park from the garage workshop. The fence had a sign “No entry filming in progress” but that sign is probably a permanent fixture as they wouldn’t want visitors wandering around the workshop and I doubt after one visit there’d be a need to return.

Of course, when you watch the show things look quite different. They utilise the whole area, including the visitor car park, when filming plus they use better looking streets for the driving scenes.  The streets we drove on to the Garage were a little, um, rough around the edges with lots of pot holes this certainly didn’t look like the street used on the show.

After taking photos of the outside area we went into the gift shop where he purchased the obligatory Gas Monkey t shirt for $30.  I, on the other hand kept my hands firmly in my pocket.  Hmm, perhaps I should visit more of these types of places think of the money I’d save!!!  The gift shop was dark inside not sure what that’s all about because it was difficult to see the goods.  Also, I observed at least 4 staff members wandering around the store so having a to show doing up old cars and selling them off is obviously a lucrative business……for this company anyway.

T shirt purchased, photos taken, no sign of the Gas Monkey team at all, time to leave.

Dallas Fort Worth has to be the flyover capital of the world.  I have never seen so many flyovers in use and flyovers being built in one city in my time travelling.  The words ‘everything is bigger in Texas’ is correct.  They also need to add the words and more spread out because there is so much space between buildings outside the city centres. The cities of Dallas Fort Worth are spoken about as one city so my perception was they were so large they grew and merged as one. However, there is a large amount of space between Dallas and Fort Worth, including suburbs (almost towns) in between and green fields and multiple flyers.  We spent our few days in Fort Worth and never touched on Dallas.


Dallas flyover

Dallas flyover


Finally arriving back at the area near our hotel we decided to have a bite to eat then find a medical centre.  Just happened as we drove around to the eateries there was a ‘walk in’ medical centre. ‘That will do’ I said to Ty.  The price for the service was also on the window…$65….which we thought was reasonable.

Ty parked the car and over we wandered.  The waiting room was empty so that was a good sign we wouldn’t have to wait long.  Famous last words.  I had to complete a multitude of forms, show my id, hand over the payment and then take a seat.  The cost was $65 for appointment and $20 for the script.  We expected more given all we’d heard about US medical costs.

Shortly after we sat down 2 patients came out from the rooms and then there was us…….and, then there was us……..and there was still us in the waiting room over 1 hour later.  Eventually I was called in by a male wearing green hospital dress.  He asked me to place my handbag on the counter and step on the scales…hmm, only after a replacement script but anyway they had no more patients waiting so dutifully I stepped on the scales.  I was then ushered to a room where I sat on the chair but he says ‘could you sit on the bed please?’ I thought it odd but I comply.  He takes my blood pressure asks all sorts of questions such as:

  • when did I have my bloods done last (blood test)
  • when did I have my last mammogram
  • when did I have my last bone density test

All the time I’m thinking is this normal for a prescription? So I answered with ‘within the last 6 months’ to every question of ‘when did you have……’ Safer option ‘cos I didn’t want to be rushed off for a blood test or any other test.

The questions came to an end as he stood up said ‘The doctor will be with you in a moment’. I’m sure he saw the look of surprise on my face – I thought he WAS the doctor!  Not more than 1 minute later he was back with a clipboard holding a questionnaire ‘I need you to complete this please’.  I took a look at the 2 full pages of questions and mumbled to myself ‘good luck with that’.  Another 15 minute wait, a quiet knock on the surgery door and in walked a short grey- haired lady in green garb and I thought ‘not another intern to take more notes’. The lady introduced herself as the Doctor.  Once again she asked the same questions and finally, wrote the prescription. I told her I wasn’t completing the questionaire and she said just write that on the bottom and sign it.  The centre owner required it apparently.  I expected the script to be handed to me by the doctor…..not so.  Doctor stood, said ‘very good to meet you’ and ‘I travelled to London and York recently which I thoroughly enjoyed’. I replied ‘UK does have some great places to visit’ and so we had a brief conversation about travel and our time in London and York. All the while I’m thinking I’d better get the script and leave or Ty will think I’ve been kidnapped’.  After our brief conversation she left the room saying the other person will come back shortly to sign me out.

At home we see the doctor, they write the script we leave. Perhaps US medical care is more thorough than ours because they have 2 different processes they take the patient through. Realistically this has to be costly and poor use of staff time.

The intern came back and said ‘Please follow me I’ll take you to the sit window’. ‘Ok’ I replied.  As we walked around the next corner we steeped into another corridor and I could see an exit sign at the very end….yes, I thought, I’m almost there.  ‘Please follow this corridor and on the right you will see a desk and chair in front of a window please sit there and the clerk will check you out’.  As I sat down I could now see Ty standing and looking around I waved but he couldn’t see me.

The clerical person who was looking through items in a filing cabinet, looked across at me and said ‘I’ll be with you in a moment’. Tis was the longest time I’d ever spent to get a prescription…..I think they need a time management course to sort them out.  Eventually I was given my handwritten prescription, a hand written prescription.

When I walked out the exit door Ty was staring at the door I had entered through….when he saw me he said ‘What took so long it was just a prescription? It was an interesting exercise, I was happy to be able to replace my tablets and I learnt a little about the US medical system.  We thought we’d be paying much more for the visit and the script so that was a pleasant surprise.

The doctor did tell me that the cheapest place to get a script filled was CVS….right in the SuperTarget store near us.  Next stop CVS but as we walked up to the car the engine seemed to be running or was it.  Yes, it was, Ty thought he’d turned if off but he hadn’t so the car was lovely and cool as it has idled away for over an hour in 100 degree (40c) heat.  You may be wondering how this was possible…..well, the car is started by a push button and you just carry the keys on your person to lock/unlock the doors.  Ty hadn’t pushed the button to turn the car off but he had locked the doors.

Prescription filled, cost was $15.58 for 90 day supply, we walk back to the car for the short drive to the hotel for a little relaxation in readiness for a late night….we’re heading to Billy Bob’s the worlds largest honky tonk… What’s a honky tonk you’re thinking?  No idea but I’m sure the next blog will cover that!!





Country and Cowboys Dallas Tx

Our big trip this year is to the USA – a road trip – my husbands’ choice. Ty loves a road trip and he loves the US of A. So four and a bit weeks driving around parts of America is a dream to him. I’m a little more reserved on that front. Europe is my ‘thing’ and I find the US daunting in a number of ways but more of that later.
This trip we have been lucky enough to find a house sitter for our beloved old cat….it’s winter in Australia and placing her in a cattery, although she would be well looked after, didn’t sit well with us this time. We placed an advert on a house sitting website and, amongst others, Janelle applied for the task, her references were excellent and, it seems, puss even liked her when she came to introduce herself and meet us so Janelle is looking after the house and puss for the duration of our holiday.
We hadn’t booked business class tickets this time we had a large number of frequent flyer points so crossed our fingers and decided to use them to request an upgrade. Luckily, we received a text message the day before our flight to say we had received the upgrade on the Sydney/ Dallas leg. That message helped Ty get through his last working day before his leave commenced and we all know how hard that last working day before our annual leave can be. It’s the best feeling walking out that door of your office knowing you won’t be back for a month…..damn do we really have to go back? No more talk of work….we’ve got a great adventure ahead. Admittedly people who trek the highest mountain or kayak down a raging river would not think our holiday was an adventure but I’ve got to find the smallest meals available in the US and, trust me, that’s an adventure for me, people that know my eating habits will agree.
We arrived at the airport around 10am and checked in, straight through customs and up to the Qantas business class lounge for breakfast by 10.40am. Champagne and orange juice was a good choice whilst I decided on what to eat! Well, as the song says ‘It’s 5 o’clock somewhere’. The departure time for our flight was 1.00pm boarding from 12.15.
After settling into our seats the cabin crew came around to offer champagne and collect our breakfast menu choices. One of the cabin crew came along and in conversation, jokingly,asked why my last name was different to Ty’s. ‘What is wrong with his name that you don’t want to take it?’ It was a lighthearted conversation as Ty made comments about me still using my previous name in case I wanted to go back to my previous husband. However the funniest part was when another cabin crew member came up to hand out the US entry cards. Staff member said when she first looked at Ty’s name she read it as ‘tv starr’ and thought he might have been travelling incognito and not wanting anyone to recognise him by name either. Later, after dinner, Ty opted for a cheese plate but as he doesn’t like blue vein they were making a special plate for him. When another crew member brought the plate up he said ‘ Here you are Mr tv starr’. So I suppose for the rest of the flight he will be known as tv starr. I did say to Ty just as well my name is different otherwise they’d be calling me Mrs tv Starr!
‘Where are we visiting in the US’ I hear you asking. Well, be patient, I was getting to that…..
As I mentioned we are flying into Dallas/Fort Worth and we’ll stay here for couple of days. Might find me some cowboy boots or not! Read that sentence with a Texan accent.
From Dallas we head to Atlanta, Washington DC, New York, Boston, Niagara Falls, Nashville, Memphis, Denver to visit friends and back to Dallas for a day or two before heading home. A total road trip of 31 days and a couple of those days are long on the drive bit. We have 5 nights with no accommodation booked because we will drive for as long as we can on those days. These drive says will take us around or through Chicago Illinois , Kentucky, Kansas and a couple of other undecided places. So, my valued readers, keep an eye on my blogs I’ll do my best to keep them updated as we travel around.
Quite a few of the passengers have changed into their Qantas pj’s so I think it’s also time for me to settle back and relax on the flight…the cabin crew have made my bed and I’m thinking a massage is in order before I retire. A masseuse in business class you’re saying… the seat has an inbuilt massage feature. I’ve also resisted the urge to put the pj’s on….I’m not sure I want to be one of the crowd in my grey pj’s with black kangaroo on the front. There’s no male/female difference in shape or design. Although I think the pj bottoms are a good idea as it will stop your pants from becoming all creased whilst you’re sleeping.
Flying into Texas a large body of water came into view and lots of green space…this surprised me given my perception of Texas was a dry state with hardly any water or lush green grass. The body of water is Lake Worth. Dallas Fort Worth airport area is massive although getting out of airport was relatively painless the longest wait time was for our luggage. The weather was extremely hot but a welcome change from the winter at home.
Conveniently the bus to the car rentals area arrived within a minute of us reaching the pick up point. Once on the bus Ty pointed to an advert on the bus for a café open from 7am to 8pm in the car rental centre. Now who wants to sit around a car rental centre? Most of us want to pick up the car and head to our hotel or next destination not linger around a car rentals area. When we arrived at the centre it was set out very much like a shopping centre. The main feature taking pride of place in the centre was a very large statue of a 2 bulls on a platform suspended from the ceiling.
By quart to 3 we had the car packed and ready to head to our hotel for a very welcome shower. Leaving the airport was easy, the freeways are 4 and 5 lanes each way and we couldn’t help but comment that Dallas loves a flyover or 2 or 3….they are everywhere! The GPS told us the hotel was a 15 minute drive from the airport however that was without the traffic factor. Traffic had slowed a bit and suddenly all lanes of traffic came to a halt. We eventually arrived at the hotel around 4pm.  Car temperature gauge was showing 104 F outside.
The hotel is in a quiet area of Fort Worth, not isolated though, there is a shopping complex across the road.
Showered, refreshed we headed to The Stockyards, a historical area where cattle was brought in to Texas for sale and distribution. Cowboy town full of bars, museums, venues with country music artists, rodeos and shops selling cowboy and cowgirl clothing. We were starving so chose the H3 steak restaurant for dinner. Did we have steak? No I had the lemon shrimp and Ty chose the pork…..we decided to have guacamole dip and corn chips as our appetiser…..the dip was made at the table with 2 avocados! Our hunger pains had dulled our knowledge of the American love affair with large quantities of food per person at each sitting and our pact to share our meals. Well, we did share the dip but before the main meals arrived so did a large salad for each of us. We struggled through what we could and the prawns were amazing so I couldn’t waste those. I needed a drink and the post mix Coca Cola wasn’t very drinkable. The water mixed with the syrup had a strong flavour so my only other option was a Margarita…mango and pineapple. Once again forgetting the upsize of everything I ordered one….the glass it came in looked more like a mini fruit bowl and weighed as much as a fruit bowl full of the heaviest fruit you could find. I managed to lift it off the table and towards my mouth….luckily it came with a large straw. I made a comment to the waitress about the size it and the size of a margarita at home. ‘Would you like another nip of alcohol to add to it’ she asked. ‘No’,I replied laughing ‘another nip and instead of walking along the street I’d be crawling and that’s not a good look’.

After dinner we wandered around town for an hour or so to walk off dinner. At 8pm we headed back to the hotel. Tomorrow it’s all about country, Cowboys and Gas Monkey garage. Stay tuned……..