Over the years we’ve visited Texas many times, including a road trip earlier this year. If you’re like us you probably always know when you are in Texas. However, just in case you forget, here are 6 easy ways to know that you’re in the great state of Texas.
No matter where you are you will be seeing lots of pickup trucks. You could be in the United States’ third largest city, Houston, or on the backroads on your way to listen to country music in Luckenbach. Doesn’t matter. You’re going to see way more pickup trucks than most anywhere else. Most of the pickups are American-made like Fords, Chevys and Chrysler; all seemingly the largest model available. Many will be covered in mud splatter and they’ll have a couple of dogs in the back. However, most in the cities are bright, shiny and polished with pride. Regardless of the mud and regardless of the dog count, all of these pickups are driven with pride and Texas confidence.
We’ve been visiting Texas for about 20 years and one thing we always count on is hearing live music. Texas is one of those places where they still enjoy listening and dancing to live music. It seems like just about every town has a venue where someone is picking a guitar or where a local band is playing a set.
And lest we forget, Austin is considered to be the Live Music Capital of the World. In Austin you’ll find over 200 live music venues and they’re filled with some of the estimated 1900 artists and bands who live in the area. And it’s not just country music either! Blues, indie rock, jazz, rock…it’s all there in Austin. If you don’t like the music at one bar just walk a little further down Sixth Street and you’re sure to find something more to your taste.
There are too many classic world renown venues to mention them all. But I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the one we recently visited: Luckenbach, Texas. This little town, population 3, was immortalized by Waylon Jennings and has since become a major venue for live music. You can go there for a major concert or just stop by as there is always someone there picking a guitar and singing a song!
Where to begin on this topic? Let’s start with Tex-Mex: that unique combination of Mexican and Texan culinary know-how that has resulted in so many foods we love. The difference between Mexican and Tex-Mex food can be summed up by the use of a few key ingredients found in the US that are scarcely used anywhere South of the Rio Grande. These ingredients are: beef, yellow cheese… Oops, I wandered off into the details a little too much. What I meant to say is that Tex-Mex is simply awesome food!
I long associated Texas BBQ with Luther’s in downtown Houston. That was my favorite place to eat while there and I would often take a plate of brisket to enjoy in my room at the Hyatt Regency. However, my perception of Texas BBQ changed the moment we walked into Cooper’s in Austin. Wow! I love ordering my meat by the pound right there at the grill. And, can it get any better than to have all the free beans and jalapeños you can eat!?! That’s food heaven right there! Next time we’re in Austin we may take our friend’s advice and visit several BBQ joints and do nothing but try the meats. No sides, just meats!
One final word on Texas food. Whataburger. Whataburger was founded in Texas and has over 500 locations in Texas alone. And in 2000, legislation was passed proclaiming Whataburger to be a Texas Treasure!
Texas has always been associated with oil: oil wells, oil rigs, oil refineries; you’ll find these all over Texas. Yes, I know you can see oil equipment in many states, but not with the density that you see in Texas. Here you’ll see oil pumps in backyards, front yards, school yards, churches and out by the barn. Perhaps Jed Clampett wasn’t really from Kentucky, but in fact he was out in the woods when he was “shootin at some food and up through the ground come a bubblin crude. Oil that is, black gold, Texas tea!” Hey, it could have happened!
It seems like everywhere you look in Texas you’ll see a Texas flag flying proudly in the breeze or nailed to the wall of a local bar. Texans love to display the Lone Star Flag and you’ll see more state flags in this state than any other. One day we tried counting Texas Flags and gave up because there are just too many. I guess I can’t blame them; after all it’s a pretty cool flag!
The Great Shape of Texas!
No matter where you go in Texas you’re going to see the shape of Texas in the strangest of places. You ‘ll see it on sidewalks, embedded in bridge supports, and on the wall of literally every bar in Texas. They even have waffles in the shape of Texas! I can’t think of any other place where the state’s outline is so widely used. I challenge you to name one other state where you see it’s shape in so many places!
Okay, you may not need all these tips to remind you that you’re in Texas. But the next time you’re in Texas try to count how many pickups, live music signs, oil wells, Tex-Mex restaurants, Texas flags and Texas shapes you see. I think you’ll be amazed!