Op-Ed

Op-Ed
AGDC 2007: Inside Garriott's Playground

Russ Pitts | 6 Sep 2007 21:00
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"We're Being Pulled Over"

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Ten minutes down the road we passed what looked like a speed trap. Two Sherriff's cars sat on the side of the road. When we passed them, they turned on their lights.

"We're being pulled over," said the bus driver. "Maybe I was following too close. I don't know."

As we left the road for the soft shoulder, a black SUV sped around the front of the bus, stopped, and emitted a couple of suited gentleman wearing sunglasses. They boarded the bus holding pictures and scanning our faces. One of the pictures was of the homeless man from the hotel. Luckily, none of us resembled him. We were released and went on our way.

Salt Lick
There are two things you need to know about Texas in order to attune yourself to the vagaries of Texas living: 1) It is very hot here, and 2) There are a lot of cows. On the surface, these things may not mean all that much to you and may seem wholly unrelated, but I assure you, they are important and integral to understanding why Texas is the way it is.

First, as to the heat, in addition to a number of psychological and behavioral idiosyncrasies attributable to the weather, the fact Texans spend a majority if their year suffering under 90-plus degree heat explains the state's obsession with the margarita and the extra long line at the margarita table in Garriott's back yard. Margaritas are typically frozen, but when served on ice form a formidable barrier to the Texas heat. Either that, or the icy, limey tequila goodness goes down so well that before long you don't even notice the heat. Also, considering the fact that our bus barely made it up the hill to Garriott's home (it took two tries - there was some screaming.), we all needed a couple stiff ones to take the edge off.

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As to cows, their profusion explains why eating beef is somewhat of a national pastime in Texas, but add the heat factor, and you have Barbecue. Meat spoils quickly in the heat, and in pioneer days Texas, the easiest way to preserve it was to smoke it, often with the abundant, thorny wood of the mesquite tree. In some places, barbecue is about sauce, but in Texas it's about meat slow smoked and lightly spiced until the juices themselves are enough to satisfy any appetite. Add on a little sauce after the fact, and you have heaven, pure and simple.

One of the best barbecue joints in Texas is The Salt Lick, and under Garriott's backyard tent we ate their style of Texas barbecue, drank margaritas and spent around an hour forgetting that we were essentially prisoners in the home of a man who designs adventure games. We were informed that this was only the beginning, warned again about the dangers of cell phones and blasting caps, and sternly informed that we were not to be separated from our groups. I couldn't help but feel I was being kidnapped by a hospitable madman.

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