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What to do in Texas

Updated: Apr 29, 2023

Hamilton Pool, Cadillac Ranch and the Big Texan Shop. Tips and tricks, experiences, information.

hamilton pool texas open cave with cristal water
Hamilton Pool

Hamilton Pool

After visiting major cities in the eastern United States, this was the first natural attraction we visited. Considering the site is half closed today, I'm lucky to have been able to go all the way behind its waterfalls on the walkway. This is the most interesting thing to do in these places. Immediately, we are transported to an adventure film where explorers discover treasures behind secret passages.

behind the waterfall passage hamilton pool texas
Passage behind Hamilton Pool Falls

It is understandable why the indigenous Tonkawa and Lipan peoples had chosen this place to live there before the 19th century. So it was more of an underground river. It was not until the 1880s that it was discovered that the cave had collapsed with soil erosion.

cristal water with waterfall with under pass in nature hamilton pool texas
Hamilton Pool seen from the front

Today, with the increasingly intense cold air fronts in Texas, I'm afraid to hear in my lifetime that the rock has collapsed permanently. Moreover, in 2017, access to swimming was already prohibited due to the presence of bacteria in the water. It is, nonetheless, a beautiful site to see, but now that the back of the falls is closed, I don't know if the price is worth it. It would be better to go to Mexico to the Misol-Ha waterfall for the same effect.

It is mandatory to reserve your place on the Internet before you go, for reasons of preservation of the place.

The price is 12$USD per vehicle.

Then, on the spot, you must pay in cash only: 8$USD per adult, 3$USD for seniors and it's free for children.

cristal water with waterfall hamilton pool texas
Hamilton Pool seen from a little further

Cadillac Ranch

old cadillac cars with grafittis half sunk in mud vertically at sunrise
Cadillac Ranch, artwork by Ant Farm

However, this attraction is not in danger of collapsing any time soon! I still remember my experience as the place that confirmed that I wanted to make travel films. I had decided to get up at dawn to get the best shot of this eccentric work. It was still dark and I was obviously the only one there. I had seen pictures on the internet of what it looked like during my research, but nothing prepared me for this sunrise that would become one of the most important of my career. I walk in the dark with my headlamp, the cars are about 200 meters from the old route 66. Route 66 is historic, because it was the first paved road in the United States, connecting Chicago to Santa Monica in California. It was the beginning of the American popular culture of the Road Trip and inspired several artists.

old cadillac cars with grafittis half sunk in mud vertically at sunrise cadillac ranch
Cadillac Ranch

For no apparent reason I'm a little scared, I don't really know what the site looks like, basically. Admission is free, so I don't know if there are any homeless people sleeping there. In short, useless little fears. I see a rabbit running away at full speed. There are graffiti on the sand in the field. Then I finally see them. Twice my size, nose to the sky, they are only shadows in the last hours of the night. Although I read on the internet the origin of this work and its inspiration, an incredible mystery hovers around these ten cars placed in chronological order of their appearance on the market (from 1949 to 63). Conceived in 1974, the installation was in perfect harmony with the theme of my film, which I had decided to call NOMADES. Its interpretation is controversial. Because it symbolizes freedom: at that time, Route 66 was one of the most important symbols of the American dream. People from the east came to look for work on the west coast. The fact that the Cadillac is an icon of social success (because it is more expensive than ordinary cars) really makes us reflect on the message that the three artists of Ant Farm wanted to tell us by burying them half in the sand, especially at this time when youth revolted against the consumer society. I couldn't see it yet because of the darkness, but in 2016 all the cars were completely covered in spray painted graffiti. Moreover, it is not forbidden, it is almost an interactive work. About twenty paint canes lie on the ground, ready to be used. The artwork constantly changes color. For example, in 2020, apparently they were painted all black for the Black Lives Matter.

grafittis cadillac ranch in september 2016
Some graffiti on the cars in September 2016

I'm alone. I know where the sun will rise, so I place my camera and when I'm ready, I wait for the first light of day. At this moment, I fall into a kind of visual meditation and I observe all the details in front of me. I'm almost in a trance, both connected with my surroundings and lost in the eye of my camera. Like a painter in front of his canvas or an actor on the theater stage. Sometimes I don't look for the perfect setting right away and I soak up the energy of the place. I almost always feel gratitude at this moment.

That day, I understood that it was for these kinds of moments that I wanted to continue making travel documentaries. Since then, I am still looking for them.

field with something uncertain at distance cadillac ranch texas
Cadillac Ranch seen from afar

Big Texan Shop

in front of big texan steak ranch western style building
Front of the Big Texan Shop building

To understand the American mentality a little more, you have to go to this place. First, to maybe try to be one of the 10,000+ people who have managed to eat a 72oz steak and sides in less than an hour. If you succeed in this feat, the company offers you your meal!

72 oz steak with tiny texas flags
Presentation of the piece of meat that you will need to eat with the sides

Space is an attraction in itself. There are cowboy dummies, pranks and tricks and carnival games, all obviously related to gun shooting. But the name says it, it's basically a souvenir shop. Your imagination will be sated with anything you can buy that represents the United States from near or far. The items are varied: from the cowboy hat to the sheriff's star, from steak spices to the coffee mug with the effigy of the Big Texan, or slogans like: ''Everything is bigger in Texas!'' and ''Hey kid, we probably fed your grandma!''

funny squeletons in a gun game of skill
Rifle Shooting Skill Game at the Big Texan Shop

Leave everything and travel, become a nomad. Many people dream of it, but many also fear doing it. Be inspired by the adventures of an independent travel filmmaker who challenged herself to make 10 travel films around the world and become a full-time nomad.

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