Posts Tagged ‘travel writers’

Texas gives Dixie chicks a ride

October 28, 2008

Not being one who fears showing my ignorance (though, yes, I do like being right), here’s my confession. When I first read that I could have my photo taken posed with a “Texas longhorn” I thought that meant a cowboy. I was imagining a cross between Village People and Chippendales.

So imagine my surprise when I showed up at the George R. Brown Convention Center to find not a cowboy but a boy cow, named Texas.

Jane Wooldridge riding the longhorn steer

Miami Herald travel editor Jane Wooldridge poses pretty, even without a hat.

Texas is a longhorn steer, a breed of cattle known for its lean beef. More than anything, though, their distinctive horns have turned them into a symbol of the Lone Star State. (What’s the difference between a bull and a steer? I’m not sure, but I think it has something to do with boy parts.) According to Wikipedia, because longhorns are smart and gentle, they’re also increasingly being trained as riding steers. I can’t say I now know what it’s like to ride one, but sitting on one was pretty cool.

Ellen Perlman riding the longhorn steer

Writer Ellen Perlman lives in DC, so she's used to a lot of bull.

This photo-op invite came from the kind folks at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, a mammoth event held every spring in Houston. The rodeo was one of the sponsors of the 2008 convention of the Society of American Travel Writers, hosted by the Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau, which I and about 400 other members attended last week. Many of us posed with Texas, including my colleagues shown here: Jane Wooldridge, travel editor of the Miami Herald, and DC freelancer Ellen Perlman of Boldly Go Solo and more.

Diane riding the longhorn steer

Diane casts animal-rights principles aside for a longhorn photo-op.

This here steer is an employee of Ralph Fisher’s Photo Animals in La Grange. To be honest, I was torn about posing atop Texas. I really, really wanted the photo (and an excuse to wear a cowboy hat), but I felt bad for the steer. How fun can it be to have a couple hundred folks climb on you, say stupid things, and then clamor back down while cameras are constantly flashing in your eyes? Not very, I’m guessing. But I managed to stuff all my animal-rights leanings into a little “See No Evil” box in the back of my head, which I then had to pull out and repack all over again in order to post this blog entry.

Steer retreats after convention duties

Texas's sidekick is led through the convention lobby after clocking out.

Aside from the photo ops, one of the craziest sights of the evening was watching Ralph Fisher’s handlers walk Texas’s colleague, whose name escapes me, through the convention-center lobby and out to a waiting limo, um, trailer.