"What brings you to San Angelo?"
"What in the hell brings you to San Angelo?"
"How did you manage to end up in San Angelo?"
"Why are you in San Angelo?"
They're mighty friendly people around here, I like them, but they do have a bit of civic self-confidence problem. Everyone we have come across here expressed something between surprise and bewilderment when they discovered they were talking to Aussie tourists. It was as if the secret was out, there's been a security leak. Somehow two Aussies have discovered San Angelo, Texas, and now they're going to spoil it all by telling the world all about what a great place it is. OK, maybe that's not true, but this interesting West Texas town is off the tourist trail, but that doesn't stop it having a great selection of music, food and local attractions to make a stay here for a few days the perfect break for two people on a long road trip. We had mucho fun here!
Take last night for example. The start of the evening will be featured in Tummy Time USA (3), coming soon to this blog, but after a very good meal Pam and I adjourned to Blaine's Pub, to catch a local country band.
Darren Hoff and the Hard Times might not be the greatest country music band we've ever heard, but they could belt it out, and to their credit they mixed up about 50% the songs they had written with 50% crowd favourites.
Thank goodness the tables are sturdy, as some hefty Texans made it up onto the tabletops. There was a mix of ages and people at Blaine's Pub, and the atmosphere was of friendly, happy party time. Everyone there was a local, and we were given a friendly welcome, along with the inevitable "what on earth brings you to San Angelo?" questions.
After I had polished off my first drink, the friendly waitress asked me if I wanted "a doze-ekkie". Gee, that's a bit brazen, I thought, uppers and downers sold openly. But it turns out doze-ekkie is a Mexican beer. It's spelt "dos equis" and it means "Two Xs". Queensland has XXXX beer, and it turns out Mexico has Two X. As usual, it was served with a sliver of lime, as anyone back home who's familiar with Mexican Corona beers would know all about. We had a great time at Blaine's Pub, and that made it two good musical nights in a row here in San Angelo.
Now, this isn't my photo, it's pinched from the Sealy's Flats website, because I forgot to take my camera the night we went there for a meal and some blues music the night before last. Here's a link to their website, which does a great job of telling you all about themselves, but I will be reporting in on their food in Tummy Time 3.
The fun in San Angelo wasn't just after hours. You could do it in broad daylight if you want to! This is Eggemeyers Store, which is stuffed full of products, ranging from cookware and gourmet food items through to gifts, toys, souvenirs and lots more. However, the real attraction is the building itself, a relic from the early 20th century with beautiful, high pressed metal ceilings.
Here's what I mean about the ceilings, but everywhere there are large model aircraft suspended from the ceiling. This is a retail space designed to make you gawp. We gawped.
Around the corner, one block away, stands the tallest building in San Angelo, the Hotel Cactus, the fourth hotel ever built by Conrad Hilton, and he did it in high style back in the roaring 20s.
There are no signs saying 'tourists welcome' at the Cactus Hotel. While using the ATM in Sealys Diner, the owner there suggested we take a look at the Hilton. He said they wouldn't mind if we looked around. And so it turned out to be. The caretaker there was preparing the foyer for a party (it's used a lot these days as a fancy venue for events) and stopped to have a chat. Then he decided to show us around (and yep, he wondered "what on earth brings you to San Angelo?"). This is one of the ballrooms upstairs.
And this is the staircase leading from the foyer up to the ballroom. The caretaker took us up in the old-style lift to the top floor, where we enjoyed some great views from the 16th floor of the whole San Angelo district. Then he took us down to the basement, to the hidden 'speakasy' room where illegal liquor was sold during the 1930s prohibition era. He was such a nice man, really went out of his way to show us around.
Finally, on the way home we stopped off at the local supermarket to get a few basic supplies, and even that was fun. They cater for all religions here with some lovely shelf displays, such as this chocolate shrine.
This display of religious candles at the supermarket no doubt sells like hotcakes to the large Mexican American community here. This supermarket, and all the major supermarkets we have been into so far (I love them!) are just so well stocked. They might have aisles and aisles of rubbish, but that still leaves plenty of room for a vast array of fresh fruit and vegies plus heaps of spices (far more than I have ever seen in any Aussie supermarket). If you want to cook great food from scratch, using real ingredients, then it's so easy here. Sure, they have lots of instant rubbish for people who don't like to cook and don't care about their health, but if you love food and cooking and like to eat healthily, there's a wonderful array of ingredients to let you do that in any good supermarket here.
I'm doing this blog here on Saturday morning, just before we check out from San Angelo and hit the road to Austin. I've updated the map to show that we're in Austin, where we plan to spend a number of days taking in the music scene there. Weather forecast for Austin for the next three days is 91°F and sunny, all three days, so it's Austin here we come, but you were great, San Angelo!