Friday, July 28, 2017

Hauling Buns to Tyler

Tyler, TX has had its fair share of visitors but one of the biggest stars of all time rolled into town today.  If you were at the Brookshires on Rice Street today you could have seen a commercial legend:

The Oscar Mayer Wienermobile wowed the crowds and served as a great backdrop for many new profile pics.  The legendary machine blasted the "Oh, I Wish..." theme and gave out Wiener Whistles and "I Saw the Wienermobile" stickers to excited fans.

The Hotdoggers who drive the Wienermobile are making a few more stops around the Tyler area before heading to the Austin area.  If you want to track down the fantastic frankfurter when it comes to your neighborhood, I recommend using the official Wienermobile app:

Happy Hot Dog Hunting!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Review: Dairy Palace


 Years ago, as I kid, I showed Black Angus cattle at a variety of livestock shows across Texas.  Every summer brought us to the Van Zandt County Fair in Canton, TX and one of the definite highlights was getting burgers and ice cream at the Dairy Palace.  So it was with the high expectations of nostalgia that I return there for lunch.

The place has been in business since 1984 and has a reputation of serving real food with real ingredients.  And it's not just the livestock show crowd that fills the booths.  Every First Monday this is the place to be.  And of course, the Canton regulars and I-20 travelers keep the place hopping in between.

The menu is surprisingly extensive for a burger joint.  Sandwiches, salads, tacos and breakfast items are all in the mix as well as a daily special but, for me, the main event are the hamburgers.

But even then, there's a lot going on.  They grind their own beef in house but there's several more options.  They've got a big selection of wild game burgers including wild boar, elk, venison and duck.  On my latest trip I went with the Bison Burger:

Too bad it doesn't photograph anywhere near as good as it tastes because this thing was phenomenal.   The huge patty (it dwarfed the bun...not that I minded) was perfectly seasoned and clearly fresh off the grill.

One of their mantras is that they begin preparing your food after your order and "The little bit of wait will be worth it!"  But I thought the order was turned around fairly quickly...and I was there with a six year old!  And after the burgers, she was ready for dessert.

 The "Dairy" in Dairy Place means ice cream.  And in Texas, "ice cream" means Blue Bell.  You can get an assortment of frozen treats like banana splits, sundaes and shakes but sometimes you just want a scoop or two on top of a cone.  They also offer Plano based Henry's Homemade Ice Cream and Chef's Line Ice Cream if you want to try something different.

As you can probably guess, we left satisfied.  So if you're traveling along I-20 with an empty belly, make your way to Canton for some old fashioned refreshment.  And if the timing is right, pick up some antique "junk" at First Monday or stop by the Livestock Show to support youngsters like this little punk from the 80's:

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Bee Aware

The recent storms on April 29 led to a tragic loss of life and property.  The small town of Emory, TX was hit as well as several other towns in the area.  After a rough night, I went out to survey some of the damage.

As usual, the community shined with legions of volunteers offering help and assistance to their neighbors.  It's been a few days now and the clean up still continues.  Yesterday the focus was on my in-laws house where several trees were knocked down (but, thankfully, no one was hurt).

A few of the trees took out the back yard fence but other than that, the damage was minor.  There was one tree, however, that held an interesting surprise.  If the tree hadn't fallen then we would have never known that these little guys were living on the property:

BEES!!!  Yikes!  So what do you do when you come across a giant beehive?  We had no idea.  Fortunately, we got a recommendation for Buffalo Creek Honey Bees from Lone Oak, TX.    We were lucky they were available and ready to roll.

And of course we were there with the camera and they were kind enough to let us shoot video.  So if you've every wondered where honey comes from then click "Play"

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Snakes on a Stage

This weekend is Eagle Fest in Emory, TX and, as usual, it's packed with events.  Unfortunately our schedule didn't allow us to shoot video for the podcast or to even attend for more than an hour or two.  But we were able to stop by to catch the Snake Encounters show and here are a few pics:

Hopefully next year we'll have more time to take in the rest of the Fest including seeing some real raptors instead of just our own little birds of prey:

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Review: Bamboo House


Typically in East Texas (or across much of the U.S.) "Asian Cuisine" is usually found in strip mall buffets filled with radioactive red sweet sour & sauce and deep fried shrimp that would best be used as packing material.  Occasionally though, you can find the rare cherry blossom tree among the thorny briar patch of subpar "Take All You Want, Eat All You Take" establishments.  Which brings us to the Bamboo House in Bonham, TX:

The outside windows boast "Sushi" and "Pho" so that's what we decided to try.  But the menu was fairly extensive and could surely provide enough options for the most eclectic groups of dining companions.  So let's head inside:

The mellow, intimate atmosphere easily lends itself to cozy conversations regarding menu selections and topics like: "Wow, that looks good!  Let me try some!"  We got there a little after the lunch rush so the crowds had gone which makes it hard to gauge the quickness of service with very few other patrons needing to be served.  But everything came out in a timely manner.  So let's start with the first course:

Let's start with something simple:  "Salmon Sushi."  It's a simple starter that's reasonably priced but it sets the scene for a satisfying meal in the simplest way: with the high caliber ginger and wasabi.  You might not think that there is a big difference between great garnishes and mediocre ones but the sinus clearing effect of even the tiniest amount of this wasabi proves that the good stuff makes a big difference.  Let's keep eating:

Course #2: "Tuna Roll"!  Sure, we're keeping it simple as far as sushi goes but it's not too hard to be hesitant when ordering raw fish this far away from the ocean.  But fortunately this one was also a winner and could easily go toe to toe (or fin to fin) with the equivalent from some fancy pants place.  Onward we go:

Final Course: "Pho Dac Biet"  We finished off our meal with a big bowl of their famous pho described in the menu as "Rice noodle soup w. special combination of steak, well done brisket, & meatballs"

The great tasting, flavorful broth compliments the three types of meat, each with their own unique taste.  It's a great finish to a not so common Texas meal and a great way to refuel on the road to your next adventure. 

Friday, October 21, 2016

Look What I Found

Awhile back we visited the Audie Murphy Museum in Greenville but that's not the only tribute in East Texas to the World's Most Decorated Soldier.  He made a big impression in the area and there are roads named after him and statues erected in his honor.  Not to mention, Audie Murphy Memorial Park in Celeste, TX which we stumbled across recently:

It's a small park maintained locally with a nice garden, a few flags, and, of course, a historical marker.

The marker reads:

     "Most decorated soldier in World War II. Born 4.5 miles south, June 20, 1924, sixth of nine children of tenant farmers Emmett and Josie Killian Murphy. Living on various farms, Audie Murphy went to school through the 8th grade in Celeste -- considered the family's home town. He had to quit school to help support the family, acquiring marksmanship skills by hunting to provide food. On his 18th birthday, after being rejected by the Marines because of his size (5 feet, 7 inches; 130 pounds), he enlisted in the Army while working in Greenville.
     For unusual courage and bravery, he received 24 decorations, including the U. S. Congressional Medal of Honor; the French Legion of Honor, Chevalier: the Distinguished Service Cross; and a Silver Star.
     After the war he became a successful actor, his most prominent role portraying himself in the film "To Hell and Back," his war career autobiography.
     Following his untimely death in a plane crash in Virginia, May 28, 1971, and burial in Arlington National Cemetery, the U. S. Congress paid him a final tribute, dedicating a new veterans' hospital in San Antonio to the memory of this American hero.
     Survived by widow Pamela, sons Terry and James."

We also noticed this mysterious handled receptacle of a sort: 

And like so many museum exhibits with handles, we had to lift it up.  And here's what we found:

A small notebook in a plastic baggie?!?  Oh, yeah!  This could ONLY be instructions for a dangerous and sexy spy mission!  Let's crack it open:

Ok, so it's not a Mission Impossible type of impossible mission but rather a a geocache!  Right here in our own backyard!  If you are not familiar with here is a quick definition from

And HERE is the link to the actual thread on the Geocaching website about this specific geocache.  So look around on you next road trip or even your next trip to the market.  You'll never know what you'll stumble across.

 UPDATE (04/27/17):  Still there:


Saturday, October 1, 2016

Junk Find Five: First Monday Oct 2016

It's time to revisit one of our favorite recurring blog entries where we go to flea markets and swap meets in East Texas and find five interesting things for sale. They may provide some interesting insight into Texas Culture or they may not.  But they are the five items that caught my eye on that particular trip.

Once again, we return to First Monday for multiple reasons:  it's one of the biggest, some say it's the best and, most importantly, it's relatively close to where we live.  Let's see what we found!

So this time, instead of just scoping out an arbitrary selection of oddities, I decided to go with a theme.  Let's call it "Nature."  All our finds today either had to be dug up, skinned or otherwise liberated from mother nature.  Here's what nature's bounty had to offer:

5. Skulls - Various Animals/Sizes

The best part here is the variety.  If you're in the market for the a small mammal skull then odds are you can find what you need at this booth.  What's your pleasure?  Muskrat skull?  Skunk skull?  With jaw?  No jaw?  One stop shopping.

4.  Barite Rose Rocks

The official state rocks of Oklahoma are so rare that they are almost only found in the Sooner State.  These aren't the best formed ones we've seen but their still pretty good.  The unique way they are formed makes them look like their namesake roses and the Oklahoma red dirt gives them their appropriate color.

3.  Bear Skin Rugs

So apparently bear skin rugs are a real thing.  They usually only exist in cartoons and 1970's cologne advertisements but it looks like they can also be found at First Monday.  Even though the usual cliche is to relax on one of these in front of a roaring fireplace, these guys seem a little too creepy to be relaxing.

2.  Big Honkin' Rock Slab Tables and Chairs

If you ever wanted to feel more like Fred Flintstone in the comfort of your own home then these beauties are for you.  Sure they're a little pricey and probably extraordinarily difficult to move but you can't deny how cool these things look.  Can't wait to see their rock slab recliner and loveseat.

 1.  Cobra Vertebrae Necklace

You may be "cool" but are you "Cobra Vertebra Necklace cool"?  Probably not.  Only a certain kind of person could pull off adorning themselves with the bones of a poisonous snake.  If you're not sure that's you then you can work your way up to it with the Cobra Vertebra Bracelet. 

It was a great haul this time around.  We'll see what we get at the next flea market...