Disappointed that I’d have to wait longer to get my double chain charm bracelet from Tiffany’s, we left Santa Fe and headed to the final destination for the night: Amarillo, Texas. What seemed like a seemingly unusual pitstop turned out to be one the most fun nights, much like Durango.
Before we reached our
weird ass mofo uncomfortable lodge motel where each room had a fucking fly swat for no apparent reason, Big Daddy Ricky took us to Cadillac Ranch which, as you would imagine, is a ranch area with Cadillacs sprouting from the ground. The idea behind this is it’s absolutely free (and legal) to grafitti on these vertical half-Cadillacs so you can leave your mark in the US of A. Proving the theory that when one is given a pen to test, an exremely high percentage will write their name, I left this:
This dinner joint was special, in that it had a massive steak eating challenge that was once featured on the show Man vs. Food. Three of our guys signed up to cut and masticate that poor, slain cow and after all their hard efforts, two of them were successful (one also won me $70 in a bet we made). I would say congratulations, but the animal activist in me says otherwise.
After dinner, it was time to dance and get down like a real Texan. One of the workers there taught us a snazzy line dance – after effectively telling Georgia to move her ass because she was in his way, despite him having the worst eyebrows I’ve ever seen – and cheap drinks were plenty as our family bonded together for our first night in the state where everything’s bigger.
There was also this snazzy little rifle shooting game which gives you 20 shots to hit as many targets as you can. Not understanding the rules, and shooting as wildly as I could, I managed to hit about like two or three. Whatevs.
After an early breakfast and an early departure, we were officially on our way to Dallas, Texas, the home of next year’s WrestleMania… and the Cowboys as well, I guess. I don’t even want to discuss the arsepain that was the long ass coach ride in between, but we made it unharmed. That’s all that matters.
Some of the group separated from us to watch an NHL game, but Hannah and I were adamant that we were going to eat the dinner that was included in our Contiki price, so the other half went to dinner to a cute little restaurant around the corner.
After dinner, we went to one of the most Texan places I think I’ll ever see – a bar called Cowboys Red River, which is described as a country music nightclub, which features a large bar in the middle of a dancing circle where couples were outdancing the shit out of us. I’m a dancer and I was embarrassed by how little I knew about partner dancing compared to these wild Texans. My bae Nate and Tony both asked me to dance as the conservative gun-wielding Texans watched us in amazement, and both of the men led very well.
It also featured a mechanical bull that most of our group attempted, but no one made the party machine look as sexual as I did. Flips hair. Struts.
SIDENOTE: on the Uber ride to Cowboys Red River, the English-clearly-as-a-second-language driver asked what brought us to Dallas, and so lovely Jack casually replied “the sights, the food, the dancing” and everything else that makes Texas Texas, right? The driver didn’t understand what we meant by that, so then we twisted the story and told him we were in town for a Mac and Cheese Convention. And he understood that and believed us. Okay…
This was also home to vodka mixes for $2.50. Yes. Drink that in, everyone. $2.50. That’s like… 10 quarters for a drink. It was probably for this reason that upon my return to the hotel, I found my wonderful roommate Alex almost passed out on the sidewalk as the taxi driver begged him to pay his fare. He eventually did and I carried my friend up to our room where I sat him near the toilet to empty out his stomach. Two minutes later I return to find him actually fast asleep while sitting on the bathtub.
Whatever floats your boat, I guess. (I took that photo for evidence in case he wanted to deny any of the nights events happening)
I eventually got him to bed, and finally it was our second day in Dallas. Today’s events included a visit to the Sixth Floor JFK Museum, a tour of the AT&T Stadium which will host WrestleMania in 2016 (and is also the home of the Dallas Cowboys apparently) and a visit to the
evil evil rodeo.
The JFK Museum was amazing and it was quite awe inspiring to be standing in the same building where it was alleged the President was assassinated from. I even got to stand at the window on the sixth floor and had a clear view of the road outside where JFK was shot, and it was as if I could picture it right in front of me. It was crazy and moving, and I found myself shedding tears at some points of the museum.
The stadium tour was actually more fun than I had imagined. Hannah and I planned to have the inaugural Mac and Cheese Convention here, and we also wore our Patriots gear to rub it into the Cowboys fans that would undoubtedly be at the stadium also (by our gear, I mean mine; I just forced Hannah to wear the Brady top).
After longing to run on the grass and do my best Edelman impression, after about an hour of touring the stadium, we got to run onto the field and it was definitely more exciting than it sounds. The boys kicked and tossed the ball around as if they were playing a real NFL game (Daniel’s quarterback skills were actually quite impressive) while the girls pretended to be cheerleaders.
Michelle and I did our best to defend the opposing offensive team, which consisted of us politely asking “Can you not run past us please?” and doing absolutely nothing else to stop them.
Directly after the stadium tour, we headed to Fort Worth, Texas for a rodeo that I point blank refused to attend. Like, I attend protests that are against this kind of thing. Before that, though, we went to steakhouse that offered all you can eat ribs for a very cheap price.
STORY TIME: so Hannah and I being close vegetarian friends sat next to each other so we could compare animal friendly items on the menu. Hannah decided she was going to have a plate of wedges. After an excruciatingly long wait for her food (mine came out pretty quickly), she looks over at a plate with what appeared to be a quarter of a lettuce head and says “Who ordered the half a cabbage?” with a laugh. It turns out it was hers. She ordered a salad wedge, not a plate of wedges, and I had not laughed like that in a very long time.
God bless you, Hannah.
As everyone else went into the rodeo – including my Bae who originally didn’t want to attend but changed his mind, just to spite me –I was left to walk around Fort Worth by myself. I ended up at a bar that seemed okay because it was populated by many, and had a few bevs and watched some locals perform. Genevieve and Hannah had alerted me that they couldn’t handle the evil evil rodeo and soon joined me at the bar. After being aggressively hit on by a man I can only accurately describe as a one/two at best, we left the seedy ass bar and joined the rest of the group to head back to the hotel. (I had previously purchased my niece a snow globe as she likes to collect them, and accidentally left it in the bar. It was that seedy of a place that I refused to go back and get it)
The last night in Dallas was a quiet one for the family as people were too tired to do anything else. The girls, however, had other plans, and Hannah and Elaine hosted the inaugural Contiki Girls Night in their room, which included awesome temporary tattoos by Gilded Ink, and a naughty game of Ten Fingers, where the seemingly innocent Memory showed her true colours (Genevieve and I fell in love with Memory this night, and it was then that the term “Memory Loss” truly earned its meaning).
These Gilded Ink tattoos ranged from the golden wings you see here to other awesome ones like bees, funky ring designs and other various tattoos.
After bidding farewell to Dallas, we headed to our next destination: Memphis, Tennessee. This long ass coach trip included a stop at Little Rock, Arkansas, where we learned about the Little Rock Nine and other civil rights movements that led the world to what it is today. This stop sent shivers up my spine as I am very passionate about civil rights and it was interesting to learn about the struggles the Little Rock Nine had to face just to do something as simple as get an education.
We also had a stop at the Texarkana state line, which to me was very fascinating. Naturally, I took this as an opportunity to be F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S.
The day was Halloween, and many rushed to get a last minute Halloween costume before we reached Memphis. There was only time for a quick dinner (which included the largest mofo cocktail I’ve ever had in my life) before we walked down the legendary Beale Street for late night Halloween celebrations.
This was my first American Halloween (obviously) and it did not disappoint. There were scary and sexy costumes a plenty up and down the street, and most of us ended up in an outside courtyard bar which had good music, great drinks and even better company.
Speaking of the drinks, they had these massive share buckets which had… I still don’t know what was in them to be completely honest. (Ignore the ultimate shade in my eyes)
The second day in Memphis was spent doing the real tourist things. We all made our first stop at Graceland, the home of Elvis. This tour included a walkthrough of his mansion which really suited the King of Rock and Roll and around the grounds of Graceland. We also got to see Elvis’ automobile museum which included all of the vehicles he called his. My Daddy is one of the biggest Elvis fans in the world so it was great to see some of the culture that really entertained my father when he was young. (It was also quite difficult trying to find a Graceland shirt that would fit my father’s large, muscular frame)
After the rather emotional visit to Graceland, some of us headed to Sun Studios, where my favourite Johnny Cash made his start in the music industry. The AMAZING tour guide told us about the history of Sun Studios in a very entertaining forum, and then led us down to the recording room where legendary greats such as Cash and Elvis made some of their hit songs. I even got to take a picture with the very microphone Elvis used when he was at Sun Studios. So much history in the one room. It was mindblowing. (This is my best attempt at an Ariana Grande pose)
It was from there that I went to the Rock and Soul Museum, which will only get one sentence because it was that disappointing.
After watching the amazingly awesome and cute Duck Parade at Peabody Hotel, the family went out for a quick bar hop around Memphis. A few others and I decided to call it an early night after Halloween’s shenanigans, so I ended Memphis on a rather high note.
The final stop of my Contiki tour was New Orleans, Louisiana, which to me is home of two things: Bourbon Street, and Taryn Terrell. I only had one night in New Orleans so it was this night that I had to say goodbye to the family members I had met on this awesome trip.
Bear with me as I don’t remember much from New Orleans (I was carried to bed, if that’s any indication of how blurry my night was), but what I do remember is that this city seemed to be more party central than Vegas itself. Yes. I said it. After many drunken goodbyes, tears, and tumbles onto the street, my Contiki tour had come to an end.
Some people say that they are no longer in contact with their Contiki friends after a while, but I can safely say that I took away many lifelong friendships from this two week tour, and I am so lucky to have met these people.
Contiki, you were amazing, and I’ll be back to see you before you know it.
– by Noah La’ulu