Fugitive Motel Travel Diaries: Coming to America, Part 3 – Fort Worth, San Antonio, and the road to Los Angeles
Fort Worth, Texas
Catherine: Back on the Texas Eagle, we headed south into Texas itself. My, oh my, the state is huge, and the train is slow. It takes ages to get anywhere. We were staying in Fort Worth in a motel on the outside of the city (our second very dodgy motel - we think drug dealers operated from outside). Whenever we set foot outside we were honked by the passing people on the freeway…
Martina: …Thus confirming our status as 'hot stuff' in the South…
Catherine: …Oh, and I swam in a pool which had been shut down by the health authorities. (I was getting desperate for a swim and didn't see the sign. So far, no rashes or poisoning of any kind...) That aside, Fort Worth is an old fashioned cowboy town and we ate steak (Martina's first steak, and mine cost as much as 2 nights in a dorm), went to a bull riding rodeo and Billy Bob's Texas Honky Tonk. Still not sure what a honky tonk is, but we went to one. Think a big barn dance with games machines, a bull ring, multiple bars and people dressed as cowboys.
Martina: We also nearly made ourselves sick by gorging on ice-cream from a Creamery (why don’t we have Creameries in England?!) directly after leaving a diner where we’d stuffed ourselves silly with some heavenly southern-fried chicken and chips. My hips will never look the same again.
San Antonio, Texas
Catherine: From Fort Worth we got back on the Texas Eagle down to San Antonio, which is beautiful and has lots of yummy Tex-Mex food.
Martina: Aaah, San Antonio. Delicious, with a very pretty riverwalk (think the world’s best Centre Parcs – but in a good way).
Catherine: We spent a lot of time watching a television programme called Predator Raw, where a TV reporter stages stings in order to catch paedophiles. I couldn’t believe it as we watched it. Real paedophiles caught (thinking they’re about to meet a 12 year-old from the internet) for our viewing pleasure. Named, shamed, but not arrested until after the show. Crazy shit.
Martina: San Antonio also gave us restless legs.
Catherine: Well, not literally, but ‘restless legs syndrome’ is a big drugs seller out there.
Martina: They advertised medication for restless legs syndrome on the television like nobody’s business. The tablets may “increase gambling and sexual urges” and make you fall asleep while at the wheel, but hey – if it means the nation’s legs are going to be rested…
Catherine: …And we discovered the best supermarket ever.
Martina: Oh yes. That made us snappy happy! It had samples of virtually everything for you to nibble at while you’re perusing the aisles. In fact, it was so good that we had to forego our planned trip to the piccies in order to revel in food ogling-heaven some more!
Catherine: Are you sensing a food-themed pattern here?
Amtrak – from San Antonio, Texas to L.A, California
Catherine: We had a 36+ hour train journey from San Antonio to LA, where we befriended a 69-year-old Texan called Gerald W. Smith. The acquaintance was borne out of his 55-year-old wife interrupting a Martina-made-up game that we were playing called “Which celebrity corpse would you rather spend 24 hours in a lift with?” (!!! - Eff Em Ed)
Martina: That game’s harder than it sounds. Anyway, she initially praised me on my hair, but then somewhat soiled the compliment by furthering that she was striving for the same look. I sensed Catherine stifle a giggle at this, but onwards we go. In the ‘observation deck’ (actually a train carriage with big windows and lots of booths, so people can chat to each other), Gerald filled us in on land irrigation, toll roads, freeways, American weather, American floods...and the intricacies of air conditioning systems, funnily enough.
Catherine: We were fascinated. Although he would not concede any point that didn’t prove that America was indeed the biggest and best country in the world. We tried to put in a good patriotic word for Britain, but he was having none of it.
Martina: The two-hour conversation came to an end when his wife (who had long since departed for her sleeper car) strided by, loudly (tactlessly, some might say) hollering that we shouldn't be embarrassed to send him on his way when we became bored of his seemingly boundless chatter. Our acquaintance came to its inevitable conclusion soon after.
Catherine: So not to be permanently scarred by Gerald, we made some friends towards the end of the trip, called Yolandra and Mattisea.
Martina: They were sweet. Aged 8 and 10. Yolandra took a shine to me, cooing that I had 'such pretty eyes'. She hastily extended the same compliment to Catherine about her own vision holes, but the young girl's heart blatantly wasn't in it.
Catherine: I don’t need compliments or pity from an eight year old!
Martina: Whatever. Anyway, the same girl then went on to note that my 'hair at the front looks like babies hair', (once more, qualifying this by saying how much she loves the manes of babes), so I spent the remainder of our conversation trying to decide whether I loved or hated her. In the end, love won through. What can I say? They were charismatic children.
words and pictures: Catherine Bolsover and Martina Booth