I needed to interview a bunch of old Bell Helicopter hands for a book. Many of these gentlemen still live in the DFW area and there’s a cluster near Arlington between the two cities.
I blew the budget on Business Class tickets (BA’s 747-400 interior is showing its age) and suceeded in getting the chair stowed in the wardrobe — thus avoiding a Frank Gardner moment at the other end. But immediately wracked with guilt, I booked a lowly Howard Johnson Express hotel, centrally placed for my task but squeezed between the I30 Eastbound and the Six Flags Over Texas theme park.
I had booked a car through Expedia but couldn’t specify one with hand-controls online. I had thought the big outfits would have a couple hanging around in case a vet turned up and demanded his ADA rights; however they require 48hrs notice. So I ordered the first of many, many Uber cabs (latest Visa bill says 25) and it worked out pretty well. Being Texas, many of the vehicles were trucks — and so involved a certain amount of heaving — but the drivers were invariably helpful and only one was unafraid to die.
The hotel was basic, and filled with families on Spring Break, but the bed was comfortable and the bathroom OK, with a roll-in shower. They found a shower chair and when I pointed out that the towel rack was way too high for me, they unscrewed it, moved it down three feet and filled the old holes. I bet you wouldn’t get that in the Four Seasons. On the other hand the toiletries were rubbish and why, I ask you, should you need glasses to read the labels in the shower? This parsimony is not confined to hotels; who cares what essential oils or exotic bee-shit extracts are in your stuff IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT IT’S FOR?
But I digress. The comp breakfast was iced buns and Fruit Loops, essentially.
Mid-way through my interview schedule, I took a day off to visit the Fort Worth Stockyards. A bit of a tourist trap and not hugely accessible, but I enjoyed a great New York Strip in the Cattlemen’s restaurant. Unfortunately I ordered dessert and missed the twice-daily cattle drive.
But there was a rodeo! Very excited about this. The wheelchair space was right next to the pens so we could see the cowboys taking a grip on their rope-thingies. Bull-riding, steer-roping, bronco-riding. Brilliant and vaguely erotic entertainment; Brokeback Mountain has a lot to answer for. I took some great video and promptly deleted most of it; this rather lame clip is all that remains.
I was intending to fly to Philadelphia after a week but a snow-storm led to my flight being cancelled. I managed to squeeze in another interview and otherwise went heads-down on the laptop. Apart from steak I ate Tex-Mex, Japanese and Mongolian — and one burger, a messy chilli-burger, here at Tom’s!