(griffin's 2005 BotCon adventure)


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7:30am-5:30pm - Tour: Fort Worth - Where the West Begins (Pre-Convene Business Center)

I didn't do this - the following text is quoted from this website by Marc Graham.

(NOTE - this is someone else's words - NONE OF THIS IS MINE - it is just included to let people know what was on the tour)

Whatever the case, we dragged our sorry selves around the convention center to find the tour party. Turns out 22 of us would be going on the tour, after some waiting about and some introductions (including the joy of getting name tags "Hello. My name is: Marc Graham" - er very nice. We all boarded the bus and off we went.

The first part of the trip was down to Fort Worth for a tour of the Stockyards, the heat was pretty intense. Coming from Northern Ireland where its usually relatively moderate all year around being in roughly 40 degrees celsius heat was enough to slow me down to a crawl. The tour soon kicked off and we walked around getting an explanation of the history of Fort Worth, how they bred cattle and the cattle was used in cattle drives to the north (where beef was more expensive). Lots of Cowboy stuff basically, including a few stories on the personalities who'd graced the area through the years and how the place was used during the first world war to supply horses to Europe.

We got shown round a few (relatively) old buildings and then there was a short presentation by the "Cowboys" - basically a few guys re-enacting the old cowboy cattle drive, herding some Longhorn Cattle and walking them through the streets everyday (we got to see this later in the day). There was some Cowboy Q & A and we got to see them put the new Fortworth brand on a piece of wood (someone from the tour would later win this in a draw!) as well as that the cowboys showed off their horses and their lasso skills by roping a "dummy" metal cow to show how it would've been branded. All fairly interesting, even for someone like me who isn't super keen on Cowboys. Anthony is more interested in that kind of thing and he seemed to really enjoy it.

Next up was the cowboy hall of fame. They had a lot of old horse drawn coaches and that on display, including one imported from Ireland that was used to film the "quiet man" (stealing our stuff again! You gotta watch these boys!) After talking us through this we got to see the various cowboys in the hall of fame. Obviously I hadn't heard of any of them, but they all had some sort of video presentation running explaining what they did to earn their spot. Many of them shot to fame by their performances in various rodeo competitions. We also went to the giftshop, but I didn't really take a shine to much there so came away empty handed.

At 11am there was the "Cattle Drive" through town. Again, it was the same Cattle we'd seen earlier, basically herded through town by the Cowboys on horseback. Fair enough I suppose, we then moved on to the "human maze". Basically - stumble around the maze - try to get all 4 letters of the word "MAZE" stamped then head for the exit. I found the exit pretty quick, but swiftly lost the patience collecting letters. I managed 3 letters and wandered aimlessly for a while. Anthony meanwhile had gotten the letter I had missed (Think it was Z) so I told him how to get the last letter and then the exit. He managed 11 minutes - which is pretty good. I left at the same time, having just about given up. We still both got a bouncy ball for our trouble, so not a total loss. Anthony was the first of the group to finish so we got to stand upstairs and see everyone else wander about for a bit. After everyone eventually filtered out, it was time for lunch. We wandered around for a bit before decided on the nearby Diner. The only notable thing about lunch was the literally huge glass they gave me the beer in. I think it was Bud I drank, they asked me for ID (always a novelty) and the beer was measured in ounces and not in pints (another thing destined to confuse me for the rest of the trip).

Once we'd all had lunch we met up again and got aboard the bus, this time for a trip to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Basically where they print the US Dollar Bills. The really weird thing here was no mobile phones, no cameras, nothing electronic or remotely like a weapon was allowed. After getting off the bus and going through security (and a metal detector) we boarded another bus (believe it or not!) and got taken to the facility. Basically they had several presentations on the history of the dollar then a tour of the facility showing us how they create the dollar and add the security features. The notes aren't made from paper as such in fact its made up of 25% linen and 75% cotton, which probably explains why the dollar has to be the worst smelling note I've ever used, certainly more pungent than sterling or Euro!

I wasn't able to take any pictures of course - but there are plenty online.

They print a lot of money there, but it seems to be a long turnaround time from design to finished product. I guess living in a small place like Northern Ireland where we have several banks printing money (Northern Bank, Bank of Ireland, First Trust and Ulster Bank to name a few) its really only the huge increase in scale that impressed me, they really churn those notes out! Apparently 95% of the newly printed notes are replacement notes for old notes that have been taken out of circulation. Ah well, reasonably interesting stuff. The Gift shop had a various amount of stuff, including dollar bills for sale at more than their actual value (due to being slightly rarer due to the * which means they are replacement notes for printing errors that got destroyed). They also sell plastic bottles of shredded paper. I thought it was all a bit too tacky for me, although some of the presidental portraits seemed nice enough, again I passed.

Well, that was it for the tours, next up was the bus back to the security gates, this time we walked through the outside of the building to our own tour bus which took us back to the hotel, actually earlier than planned! I must say that I got a chance to talk to a few of the folk on the tour throughout the day and they all were friendly enough folks from all different places, which was cool. The tour guide from Fun Publications was also really friendly and made sure there was a good atmosphere for the trip.

Images are from the same source, which has a lot more images (these are just a couple of samples).

These three are of the Cattleyards and maze.



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***All pictures in this convention report are mine unless noted. Any that are borrowed, have the source credited/noted.  If you want to use/borrow any of my photos, please credit the source as well. I try to take as many of my own photos as possible, and usually only resort to using others if I failed to get something, or my photo wasn't clear enough.

OZFORMERS - The Australian (and Asia) Transformers Fansite for News and Interaction (started way back in 1996)
BotCon website - The official Collector Club and Convention website
To contact me --> griffin @ otca.com.au