Finally checked out the Texas Memorial Museum today and saw this big ass ancient armadillo shell–or a prehistoric cousin of the armadillo called a Glyptodon, which was roughly the size and weight of a Volkswagen Beetle and looked cool as shit (thanks, Wikipedia!)– but I’m choosing to call it a big ass armadillo shell. 

Then later I saw a couple sitting with their pet pig outside the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf on Guadalupe. Today was truly magical. 

Luling, TX: Let Me See That Sexy Melon Go Thump, Thump, Thump

One of the most important things I’ve learned in my modest travels is that every town in Texas is the (something) capital of Texas. Por ejemplo, Lockhart is the barbecue capital, Medina is the apple capital and Bandera is the cowboy capital (not to be confused with Stephenville, TX, which is the cowboy capital of both Texas and the WORLD). I love this about Texas. But, aside from some backward politics and the ass-sweat boiling heat, I love most things about Texas. I’m not sure if this bit of community rallying is unique to the Lone Star State (I’m from Missouri and once lived in the methamphetamine capital but there were no city council-awarded plaques for that rare distinction) but I do know that Texans take their town titles very seriously.

Luling, TX holds the honor of being the watermelon capital of Texas and the best thing about this is undoubtedly the Watermelon Thump Queen Pageant held every June. I know this because every fence post, window, wall and Dairy Queen counter is plastered with posters like this:

and poster board pleas from hopeful thump queen candidates:

I have to say, I hope Victoria pulls this one out because she is currently killing the other girls’ campaign poster game. Sorry, other Thumpies, but you know it’s true. Motion for a Drop Dead Gorgeous sequel based on the Thump Queen Festival?

Luling is also known for once having shitload of oil, producing up to 11 million barrels a year in the mid-20s. Thankfully, instead of letting their old pump jacks lay dilapidated in the shadow of their former glory like your MawMaw’s grainy Dallas VHS tapes, the city has adorned them with priceless Texas kitsch, like this little Huckelberry Hillperson over a dumpster behind the Dollar General:

But truth be told, the real reason I came to Luling was for the barbecue. In fact, when I die you can engrave “Came for the barbecue” on my tombstone, and the amount of smoked meats I ingested at Luling’s City Market (named by Texas Monthly as one of the top 5 barbecue restaurants in the state) was enough to actually kill me.

I had heard that eating at City Market is nothing short of a religious experience for barbecue lovers so I had no choice but to load that butcher sheet down (side note: never trust a bbq joint that serves your food on a plate. Unless it’s Salt Lick) with a sampling of every meat source available: a quarter pound of brisket, two huge ribs and a sausage link, along with potato salad, a Big Red (the bbq drink of choice for every City Market patron) and a stack of white bread that signified the amount of damage I was about to do to this 382938477700 calorie spread. I don’t even know how to put into words how good their brisket is but I’ve already offered up my firstborn child to their pit master. City Market really is more than a meal, it’s a Texas experience. There’s a reason why people drive hundreds of miles round trip for a taste. Whether you’re arriving in a Prius or a ‘75 GMC, we’re all here for the same reason. And after communing among the thick, black smoke that permeates the restaurant, everyone leaves carrying the trademark Luling meat perfume as a reminder of their baptism in the barbecue holy land.

Important Luling facts:

  • hometown of MSNBC news anchor and professional verbal bitchslapper of annoying and snotty WASP politicians, Tamron Hall!
  • home of brisket that made me weep openly
  • once known as the “toughest town in Texas”
  • shares its watermelon capital title with Dilley, TX (dramaaaaaa!)

Visit Luling!

I went to the Wittliff Collections at Texas State today and snapped this photo of Lyle and Ann hanging out in the King of the Hill exhibit.

They also have a huge Cormac McCarthy section that’s very well done (and makes me even more ashamed that I still haven’t finished reading Blood Meridian) and an entire room dedicated to the Lonesome Dove miniseries, featuring original cast clothing (!) and photographs from the set. A Texas State student actually escorts visitors to the locked exhibit and stands guard presumably to make sure you don’t take photos and/or cry all over Gus McCrae’s boots. Never underestimate a Texan’s love for Lonesome Dove.