Monday, February 15, 2016

Dallas/Fort Worth Road Trip report

This is never a happy weekend for me and not being able to run Mercedes was a double whammy so I had to get out of town and make the best of it.  Why Dallas?  It's the closest major city that I have yet to visit and it contained a minor bucket list item.  I'm a Carter baby and have visited the library of every president that has served in my lifetime except for George W. Bush..  That would change after the weekend.  In addition, I hoped to see the Ft. Worth stockyards, a JFK museum at Dealy Plaza and White Rock Lake.

2/12- I was able to leave work an hour early and hit the road.  As planned, I made it to my friend Trent's place on the north side of Jackson, Miss'Sippy.  Both of us went to bed early but were up before 7:00 AM the next day.  He cooked me some sausage and eggs and fried bananas then I was on my way.

2/13- It was another 6 hours to Ft. Worth and I planned to take an extended look at Shreveport, Loosiana.  Shreveport seemed to have a vibrant downtown with several casinos along with a cool outlet mall with a river walk.  I didn't do much touring but was impressed by what I saw.  From, Shreveport, it was another 20 miles to the Texas border so I stopped at the welcome center for a map and got the obligatory "Don't Mess With Texas" bumper sticker.

I ended up driving a bit beyond Ft. Worth and stopped at a DQ in the town of Weatherford just to get a small taste of West Texas.  Yes, it did have a bit of a different feel and flavor to it.  Correct me if I'm wrong but anything west of Ft. Worth is considered West Texas, right?  At any rate, I was back in Ft. Worth before dinner as planned and drove through a Latino neighborhood on my way to the stockyards.  The Ft. Worth Stockyards are the old cattle ranch that has been transformed into a string of bars and restaurants with live music and dancing.  It reminded me a bit of Broadway in Nashville with a more cowboy/Western feel to it.  It was somewhat depressing to be alone but I did manage to have a bit of fun and enjoyed a good thick ribeye steak for dinner.

2/14- The day began with a quick tour of downtown Ft. Worth and a 30 minute ride on the interstate back to Dallas, where my first stop was the West End and Dealy Plaza.  I toured a museum dedicated to JFK, which covered his presidency as well as the assassination.  I got to look out the same window as Oswald and walked in the Grassy Knoll as well as the exact spot where Kennedy was shot.

It was now lunchtime and I found a nice BBQ place just a few blocks down the road where I got some tasty ribs and wings Texas style.  From there, it was on to Bush-43's library just a few miles north of downtown on the SMU campus.  I'm not going to get political here but this was a very well done library that anyone interested in history should appreciate.  Most gripping of all was the actual steel from the Twin Towers on display for visitors to touch.

Supposedly, uptown Dallas is where all of the cool bars and shops are located but I missed that part of town.  Instead, it turned residential on my way to White Rock Lake, which is the site of numerous races in the Dallas area.  It was a 9 mile loop with a paved trail that ran alongside a road with mansions.  Very nice.  I ended up calling it quits after 3 miles and headed back to Birmingham.

Dinner was in Shreveport and I had initially planned to stay there Sunday night but felt good enough to keep going for another hour.  That proved to be a good call because it rained most of the way back on Monday but I did get back by mid-afternoon.  It was a lot of driving but worth it.

Overall impression:
Count me as a fan of the Dallas/Fort Worth area.  This is the 4th time that I have visited the state of Texas and came away with a favorable view each time.  I could very well be back again.  Would I want to live there?  My answer is no.  Despite efforts to ease congestion with toll roads, traffic is still very heavy and I'm just not a big city type of guy.  Birmingham is just about the right size for my taste with a good mix of locals and outsiders.  In a small town where almost everybody is from there, I've observed that most people still hang with their high school clique and often marry someone from their own school or a neighboring district.  On the other hand, in a big city where people come from all over, it loses much of its charm and distinctive flavor.  I prefer the best of both worlds.

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