Since moving back to Mason many years ago, I've gone out of my way to avoid most of the large urban centers of our state. However, there have been times that business or pleasure trips required that I go to Austin, San Antonio, San Angelo, Fort Worth, Dallas, , , and even, Houston.
Last weekend, I made the long haul to the Bayou City for the Livestock Show & Rodeo. I had forgotten some of the charms that Houston can offer to visitors.
The many employees and volunteers at the Rodeo & Stockshow are courteous, helpful and mostly well-informed. They help everyone get to where they need to go, and they do it quickly and efficiently. I'll be the first to admit that getting around the Reliant Arena and the Reliant Center can be extremely confusing. And, getting from the Galleria area, where we were staying, over to the Reliant can be absolutely terrifying.
Houston, being the cosmopolitan, international city that it is, makes such journeys an adventure of its own. Our cab drivers were Pakistani, Iranian, Somalian and Indian. Their driving skills far exceeded any of ours in the crowded streets and freeways of the downtown, and allowed us to enjoy a few drinks while visiting the clubs around the rodeo area.
We were excited to be sitting in the room when Gabe Jennings won his grand champion meat goat, and having everyone laugh and give us grief about how Mason is always excelling, not only at their show; but, at everything they do around the state and nation. The kidding was good natured, and didn't hide that they were envious of the achievements and accolades that we've racked up over the years.
I got to enjoy some great bronc riding both nights, with some of the highest scores they had ever recorded at the rodeo. Then, we got Tim McGraw on Friday night, and The Band Perry on Saturday. Then, there were bands playing at The Corral Club and the other venues, all entertaining their own crowds. And what an extremely diverse crowd it was!
Years ago, I went to Houston regularly on business, and also for pleasure trips to The Alley Theater, The Houston Grand Opera at the Wortham Center, or traveling musicals at The Music Hall. I remember enjoying the mix of folks who attended those many offerings and knowing, even then, that Houston was a unique American city, unlike any that were of comparable size in the nation.
However, I have to admit that one of the things I most enjoyed was the feeling as we drove out of Houston on Sunday. Though the city has much to offer, and though I thoroughly enjoyed everything we did during the weekend, no feeling truly can compare to the drive back home. The knowledge that one can enjoy all that our cities have to offer; but, that we are still able to return to our own homes in the rural, isolated portions of the state, satiated with the experiences our cities have offered us during our visit.
And, once we got home, I saw all the folks from Houston, Dallas, Austin and San Antonio, filling the roadways and streets of our own area, as they enjoyed spring break. Which means that, just as we enjoyed their hospitality and all they had to offer, we also have a great deal to offer them when they turn their attention our direction. Let's be sure and give them as good a time as they gave us.
It’s all just my opinion.