Tuesday, January 25, 2022

The Ladybug Signature

Here's a story about the origins of some of the decor at the East Tawakoni City Hall:

Sunday, January 23, 2022

East Texas Gem & Mineral Show

Every year the East Texas Gem & Mineral Society hosts their annual Gemstone & Jewelry Show.  Dealers from across Texas and beyond converge on the Tyler Rose Garden Center to sell custom jewelry, unique gem & mineral specimens, rare fossils and other treasures dug from the earth beneath our feet.  I've been to a few of the group's functions and was happy to return for this year's show.  

One of the show's best attractions is the Rock Food Table.  Take a close look at the picture above.  What looks like a delicious spread of fine dining choices are actually all rocks.  Most of the pieces are rocks that just happen to be shaped like certain foods but some of them are polished/finished to complete the illusion.  

The Rock Food Table is currently owned by a member of the ETGMS but originated by a couple in the Gulf Coast region.  A few years back I shot some footage of it for a documentary.  Here's a clip:

Just for fun, I got some updated video on this visit for TikTok.  Here's a quick look at the current Rock Food Table and maybe you can spot some new dishes on display:
@geologyvideo Rocks that look like food #geology #rocks #gemandmineralshow #science #rockfoodtable #earthscience #fyp ♬ Eat It - "Weird Al" Yankovic

Other attractions at the show included a silent auction, a fluorescent mineral display, door prizes, demonstrations and kids games.  We picked up a few new specimens for collection and got a look at some great displays that included petrified wood, lapidary work and other great pieces found by ETGMS club members.

The Geology Department from Stephen F. Austin University was also represented at the show.  Professor Bloxson and one of her grad students were there with information about oil deposits in east Texas and the rocks in the area that contain the oil.  They had great information for young aspiring geologists and anyone else that might have an interest in the subject. 


Saturday, January 22, 2022

Lake Fork Eagle Count

In cooperation with the Texas Park & Wildlife, volunteers participate in an annual midwinter eagle count across the state.  I went along with a group in the Lake Fork and and shot some video.  Check it out:

Friday, January 21, 2022

Salt Seeing

The Morton Salt Girl has never been one of the more flashy product mascots but she's a bit of a workhorse.  She's been holding her umbrella and spilling her salt for over a century.  Sure, she may be frequently overlooked by flashier guys like Mr. Peanut or the Green Giant but I found a palace where she reigns as queen.

The Grand Salt Palace is just that...a building dedicated to, and made of, salt!  Found in Grand Saline in east Texas, the museum and visitors center celebrates America's favorite spice.  That's because there's a huge salt deposit in the area and Morton mines it for potato chip lovers everywhere.  It's what you call a "Salt Town."  (I don't know if anybody calls it that but I do.)

So proud of their natural resource, the town built its Welcome Center out of it.   You can build buildings out of rock, and salt is a rock so naturally synergy won the day.  Visitors are even encouraged to taste the salty structure...so we did...

Guess what it tastes like?  If you guessed salt, you're right!  I can't make any claims about how hygienic it is but pretty much every visitor seems to give it a lick.  My advice to new visitors is to try and find an unappealing corner somewhere that has had a minimum of licking.  Good luck!

Inside you'll find the type of pamphlets and local history displays that populate many small town museums.  What makes this one stand out is the free rock salt samples (Spoiler: they taste like salt) and, of course, Morton Salt Girl Memorabilia in its various forms.

As usual, there's a surprising amount of stuff with this particular mascot on it but, to paraphrase Dr. Ian Malcolm, Marketing...finds a way... 

Also on site is the standard little old lady to answer all your salt and salt related questions, an educational video about salt playing on a loop and the obligatory penny smashing machine.  I would definitely recommend a stop at this place if it's only a few hours off your pre-planned route.  But I'm into weird stuff like this.

Outside, in addition to the lickable walls, you'll find a Texas Historical marker about legendary aviator and adventurer Wiley Post.   And not too far from that that is even more salt!  This time in the form of a great big chunk:

Atop a wooden table and shaded by an outdoor roof, this guy has been welcoming folks to town for years.  The rain and wind have probably done their best to wear it down but it remains in place waiting for the next curious visitor to give it a lick.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Foul Territory

Texas is known for pioneering oil barons whose business acumen frequently takes a back seat to their larger than life personalities.  But at some point the blustery sale pitches, ten gallon hats and six shooter personalities all seem to fade together.  And that's when a different kind of Texas businessman gets the spotlight...like East Texas chicken magnate Bo Pilgrim.

With his matter-of-fact demeanor and deadpan delivery, his commercials for "Pilgrim's Pride" chicken quickly became staple of 80s and 90s TV.  His business dealings and charitable work also made him a big part of the East Texas community, particularly in Pittsburgh, TX.

He passed away earlier this year but his presence can still be felt in the area.  At the Northeast Texas Rural Heritage Museum in Pittsburgh his cardboard cutout stands tall in an exhibit of famous area residents, along with his trademark hat.

But the town has an even bigger tribute to the late meat packing mogul.  Outside the local chicken processing plant you'll find this giant bust of Pittsburgh's prominent poultry purveyor.  Feast your eyes on this roadside siren as it beckons you to pull over and snap a picture:

If that's not making a statement then I don't know what is.  The giant head of Bo Pilgrim welcomes(?) visitors coming in to town along Highway 271.  It kind of makes you wish for a Huntsville Sam Houston statue type of full scale version but for now we'll have to settle for the head and shoulders...and of course the old commercials:

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Queen For a Day

Most businesses spend a fair amount of time and money on market research.  Before you roll out a new product you're going to want to make it as good as possible and to do that you need to test it out.  And that's what brought me to an East Texas Dairy Queen today.

The DQ in Emory, TX was one of the four franchises in the entire state selected to take part in the experiment.  I was told it was because the manager is very active in giving feedback to corporate regarding what is and is not working.

So what exactly was on the tasting menu?  It turns out they have an interest in serving up a Buffalo Ranch Chicken Sandwich.  And it's pretty much what it sounds like: your standard chicken sandwich (fried or grilled) with Buffalo Sauce and Ranch Dressing.  While they headed to the kitchen to whip one up, they handed out the questionnaire:

There were only a handful of questions and they were all pretty much straightforward: How did you like it?  Would you recommend it?  Etc. That's all you have to do to sing for your supper.  So here's what all the fuss is about:

I got the "grilled" version.  You can definitely taste the buffalo sauce...I'll say that for it.  So I ate my sandwich, filled out the form and went on my way.  Will we end up seeing the Chicken Buffalo Ranch Sandwich at Dairy Queens across Texas?  Only time will tell..

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!