We left Little Rock on the morning of Wednesday, February 8th. It rained like crazy overnight, and continued into the morning. When loading the Jeep I had to jockey for space under cover, and successfully kept myself and our luggage mostly dry.
There’s not much to say about the 300 mile trip to our next destination in Arlington, Texas. The heavy rains had generated floods and flood warnings all along our route of travel, and we had to detour around water-covered roads more than once.
But, we got there. As an added bonus, the rain had stopped by the time we arrived.
Wife and I had put together a short list of things we wanted to see during our two full days there, and we started right in on a bright and sunny Thursday morning by heading into the heart of Dallas.
First stop was at Pioneer Plaza. There’s a really well done sculpture of a cattle drive there, and I wanted to get up close and see it.
This is allowed, as there are paths through the cattle, heading downhill towards the plaza. I did, however, forget to account for Texas mud- remember, yesterday’s heavy rains?- both Wife and I mucked up our shoes pretty good!
After cleaning our footwear as best we could, we headed for public parking under the George Allen Courts Building. On the way we stopped briefly to see what seemed to be the old Mobil Oil Pegasus trademark.
I remember these all over service stations when I was a kid. This one sets upon an oil derrick scaffold, and was rotating slowly in the bright sun.
We descended several levels in the garage before finding a space. Fortunately there were elevators, which we took back up to the street level. As we got out of the elevator we saw in front of us the Old Red Courthouse. This was the courthouse for Dallas County from when it was built in 1892 until 1966. The building was vacant for many years until it was renovated and became the Dallas County Museum. The building was renovated about 15 years ago, but it is closed now, permanently, I think.
We took a look at JFK Memorial Plaza, located next to the Red Courthouse and across the street from Founders Plaza. Honestly, I was not impressed with it. I don’t think the concrete box really qualifies as sculpture, but I can’t think of anything else to call it. Maybe all y’all can see something there I’m missing?
From there we walked the two blocks to the most infamous spot in Dallas, and the greatest tourist draw by far- Dealey Plaza. We crossed S. Houston St., then followed it north a block until we reached Elm, right in front of the building known in 1963 as the Texas School Book Depository. Now it’s a money making grift, complete with a 6th floor “snipers nest”.
Crossing the street, we went left down towards the “Grassy Knoll”. Along the street are painted three white “X” indicating where JFK was at the time of each of the three shots. Wife took one look at the paint marks, looked up at the Depository, and then where we were standing and said: “Grassy Knoll. Just sayin’”. I laughed.
I’ve got some pretty strong feelings about this particular incident. Aside from Kennedy being killed, which was horrible, I see this assassination as the watershed event where the powers that actually run this country took the gloves off, and didn’t really bother feeding all the peeples a plausible story.
Perhaps someday I’ll expound more about this. Plenty of others have made much more sense of this event than is found in the Warren Commission Report and subsequent official narratives. Meanwhile, here’s the money shot as far as I’m concerned.
We returned to the parking garage to reclaim the Jeep, and proceeded north towards White Rock Lake Park. That morning I’d gone online and secured “timed entry” tickets to the Dallas Arboretum. It was looking like a good choice, as the sunny day was continuing to warm up.
Before that we stopped at a Chick-Fil-A for a quick lunch. I am adamantly opposed to fast food restaurants, and haven’t eaten at any of them for two years come next April, if you excuse the occasional cup of coffee. Chick-Fil-A I’ll make an exception for, as I like their chicken sandwiches. That’s what Wife and I each had to eat. We were treated to a bonus and got to meet “Rocky”. Living the sheltered life that I do, this was the first time I’d encountered robot delivery devices in a restaurant. Or anywhere else, for that matter.
The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden was an excellent choice for such a beautiful day. Spacious grounds leading down to the lake were covered with all kinds of flowers, trees, vegetable plantings and other flora. I was a bit stunned, as I’m not used to seeing vegetables almost ripe for eating in February! I asked a staff member what they used the vegetable crop for and was horrified when he said they composted it!
Here’s a a few photos taken that afternoon, including one of the resident rodent control officer.
The entrance fee for the Arboretum was very inexpensive, and were I a resident of Dallas, I would spring for the $100 annual membership without reservation. This would be a great place to regularly visit, and were I a member, I think I’d try to finagle some of those veggies rather than see them tossed away.
The afternoon wore on, and after spending a couple hours at the Arboretum we decided to return to the hotel in Arlington, and figure out somewhere to go for dinner. We landed at the hotel around 5PM, and I asked the manager where she liked to eat in Arlington. Without hesitation she said Mariano’s Hacienda, not far from where we were staying.
So we went. Mariano’s Hacienda is a traditional Mexican full-service restaurant. Friendly hostesses greeted us, and we were seated immediately. Wife had chicken enchiladas and I had chicken fajitas. The food came to table very quickly and both meals were excellent. “Thumbs Up” for this place.
After enjoying the meal, we returned to the hotel where we found the manager still at the front desk. I thanked her for the winning recommendation and headed for the sleeping quarters. A very full first day in Dallas was done.
The sun was still with us when Friday came around, but it was not as warm as the previous day. We had to return to the winter coats, although I removed the liner from my parka. The day started out in the low 40s with a brisk wind.
Our first stop of the day was back in Dallas at the Dallas Museum of Art. This is a large museum, and there is no fee for entry. There is a $15 charge for parking, but it seems like a fair deal given the quality of the exhibits. We had made our reservations online the night before for when the museum opened at 11AM, and were among the first to enter. There were many groups of noisy school children there as well, on field trips, I assumed.
There were many different types of displays there- too many to recount here. The website is worth checking out if you’re into that sort of thing. I will note that the museum boasts an excellent selection of paintings from many European masters. They are on the second floor, and as we started at the top and worked down, we came upon these amazing paintings last. They left a very positive impression as we exited the facility about two hours after entering.
Directly across from the museum is Klyde Warren Park. This is a dog-friendly city park built on the top of a short tunnel- there’s a highway directly below! There are several restaurants and food trucks along the edges, loads of public seating with tables, and an impressive fountain at the far end.
Wife and I claimed a table and broke out the picnic lunch. We were among the very few sitting in the park, as most of the locals were striding along briskly through the brutal sunny, 50° windy weather in arctic regalia. After a quick lunch, we returned to the Jeep and moved onto the afternoon agenda for this day.
A trip over to Fort Worth was on for the afternoon. In ancient times (late 1990s) I traveled there for quite some time for work, and I wanted to take a look at the old jobsite, JPS Hospital. From there, I wanted to show Wife the Fort Worth Stockyards.
John Peter Smith Hospital was just a hospital with several satellite locations back when I helped redesign their data network. Now it, like every other healthcare operation, has grown to incredible size. A full-blown “healthcare network”, I’m sure. It did not look like the place I remembered.
On a happier note, the area around the hospital complex looks like it’s improved significantly. It was a run-down and sketchy neighborhood back in the day, but now it looks like gentrification is in full swing. Nice apartment complexes, attractive eateries and trendy shops lined the road heading downtown. Good to see.
The Fort Worth Stockyards, once an honest-to-God enterprise dedicated to the business of beef on the hoof has long been a tourist attraction, and it keeps getting larger,
adding cowboy schtick as it grows. Wife and I paid the ransom for parking and walked down along the streets, checking out all of the souvenir shops, and “western saloons”. Truth be told it was rather funny.
As the sun descended to the horizon, a chilly day had become downright cold, and the wind had increased. Wife and I popped into the Cowboy Network Bar for a beverage while we awaited the 4PM Walking of the Longhorns. It’s not like the running of the bulls in Pamplona. Here, a few cowboys and cowgirls slowly lead a herd of 16 longhorns through the streets, everyday at 11:30AM and 4PM. Everyone watches them mosey past, and then it’s back into the stores, bars and restaurants.
For us, it was back to our Transcontinental Jeep for the return to Arlington. Day 2 in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex was done, and tomorrow we were heading down the road a piece to Waco.
More to follow on Monday. I hope you’re enjoying these chronicles as much as I am writing them, and thanks for stopping by!