James and I went to the rodeo cookoff/carnival last night. What a clusterfuck. We wanted to get there around 5:30PM, so we left our house (16.2 miles as the car drives on a Saturday night) at 4:45PM. Plenty of time to drive over there, deal with traffic and park, right? I mean, the HLSR people must have this down to a science. They’re used to dealing with big crowds. (Please note: it had been 19 years since the last time I attended the cookoff. So what do I know.)

I didn’t bother to look into where we should park before we went nor what entrance to use when we got there. A couple of James’ bandmates were playing in another band in one of the tents at the cookoff, and one of them told us where to park. Mistake number one. Instead of parking on the naked corpse of AstroWorld, we took the bandmate’s advice to park on a lot on Kirby. We followed the electronic signs for “cash parking ahead” until I was pretty sure they were just fucking with us. About 30 minutes and less than a mile later, the next electronic sign said “no cash parking.” Dammit! We ended up parking at a park-n-ride lot on Fannin on the other side of 610 from the Astrodomain. We’re at about an hour and a half or more into our night now. We were hungry. And we had a long walk ahead of us.

Knowing we’d eat dinner at the cookoff (mistake number two), once inside the carnival we thought we’d have dessert first: a fried twinkie. I don’t like twinkies in their normal state, but I must tell you that a fried twinkie, which looks much like a corndog, is surprisingly delicious. And should only be eaten once every decade.

Neither of us is interested in riding roller coasters (I have a hard time just being a passenger in a regular car), so we opted for the ferris wheel. It was about as tall as the top of the Astrodome and about as old.

I took a few more shots of the carnival before heading to the cookoff. I didn’t take any pictures at the cookoff because I didn’t have enough room to move my arms to get my camera out of my bag. Here’s a birds’ eye of the cookoff from the ferris wheel, to give you a sense of how many people were crammed into the area:

We finally reached the tent where we had an “in.” As we were going in, a drunk woman (describing anyone at the cookoff as “drunk” is redundant) (minus me and James, sadly) exited saying there was no more food. Perfect. We got inside just as they were shutting the bar down to restock. Double bonus. The band was not really my taste (of course, I could say that about pretty much everything related to the experience). The girlfriend/wife of the main guy in the band was handing out band t-shirts that featured a drawing of a woman in a bikini straddling a motorcycle. Klassy. She then informed the room in general that she was the woman featured in the song and was the model for the image on the tee. Amazing stuff.

We hung out for maybe 30 minutes to justify the amount of effort we’d made to get there before calling it a night. When we left the carnival/cookoff, we went out the wrong exit – ended up on Kirby instead of Fannin – which meant we had to walk halfway around the entire Astro-complex because there was no re-entry. This was no small feat, and it furthered my suspicion that we should have zigged instead of zagged. Almost each decision we made last night was the wrong one. Should have turned left instead of right. Should have jumped on board with the banana and the grapes and skipped the rest of it.

If I were to do it all again, which I won’t, I would park downtown and take the light rail. And bring a sandwich and a flask of scotch. Or maybe just stay home and hit myself in the head with a small bat.

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