Texas 2015 (Part 3- Fort Worth/Dallas)

Texas is beautiful.

 

(Paul and I eating at an Italian diner and watching the rain fall across from our hotel.)

The wildflowers are blooming. The bluebonnets especially, have come to life- they are magnificent.

Our last stop on our Texas trip was Fort Worth.

The very best thing I did when arriving in Fort Worth was walk to the nearest visitor’s center. The gentleman working the desk spent his time helping me plan points of interest and sharing some lesser known activities and places I might like to stop.

I spent my first day working my way through the city streets to see what was around me.

I liked being in the middle of the city. This location is unusual for Paul’s business trips. He usually about 20-30 minutes outside of the city when he travels.

Fort Worth was the home of my first city bus trip, and my first kale smoothie!

The visitor’s center had given me information on taking the city bus to see a local cattle drive at The Stockyard. The morning I was planning to visit, I finished our laundry, straightened the room and then went on my way toward the bus stop.

I had left early thinking it might take me a while and I didn’t want to miss the cattle drive at 10. Walking to the bus stop didn’t take nearly as long as I thought it would. I bought my ticket and my bus was already waiting. The bus drive was only about 25 minutes.

It would have taken less time but once everyone but me was off of the bus, my bus driver decided to stop for coffee.

There was lots of “new” for me. First time riding the city bus. First time sitting on the city bus alone in the middle of the city. Sigh. Not the most comfortable experience for me.

When I arrived at the Stock Yard, the bus driver told me I would need to walk over a block. Then he told me I might be waiting a while since the cattle drive didn’t happen until 11 and that is also when most stores open. As I stepped off the bus, I KNEW I needed to have waited a little while longer to take my bus ride.

It almost felt like some joke as the whole area seemed more like a ghost town than anything else. It was only about 8:30. I had a long wait ahead.

I sat outside on a bench for a long time. The great-tailed grackles are fun to watch, but most fun to hear. They sound like they chatter all through the day. They were having quite the conversation that morning while I waited. It was hard not to feel like I was living out a scene from an Alfred Hitchcock movie. :/

Thankfully, the visitor center opened at 9. The folks there gave me some ideas of things I could see while I was there and did share until things opened, I could go visit the long horns across the street, which I did.

They were thrilled to have me drop by and visit.

The cattle drive was beautiful. Those animals are amazing.

I also stopped by The Stockyard Hotel where Bonnie and Clyde staked out a bank across the street. They still have Bonnie’s gun encased in a cabinet on the wall of that hotel room.

On the same street is a saloon where many scenes from the TV show, Walker Texas Ranger was filmed.

I took a tour through The Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame. (Probably not something I would do again, but seeing the wagons and all their uses was very interesting to me- especially since we’ve just finished The Long Winter.)

I also toured Billy Bob’s, the world’s BIGGEST honky tonk. That was an experience. I don’t even know how many pool tables and video games I saw while I was there. They were setting up for a concert that morning and there were already folks arriving for the “tour”, but really squatting their seats for the evening concert.

Billy Bob’s has an indoor bull riding rink, a mechanical bull, a restaurant, with a second kitchen, a gift shop, and concrete squares along all the walls where all the famous people who have performed there embedded their hand prints. They hang on the long walls.

Billy Bob’s made me sad. It was glitzy- but all I could see was the atmosphere and lifestyle. I wondered how much brokenness comes out of a place like this, and I was just sad.

The Live Stock Exchange was also an interesting place to visit. I would have love to have seen it in action:

The Stock Yard had lots of little shops and it was relaxing just walking down the street.

I tried to talk Paul into this cowboy hat, but he wasn’t on board. Maybe next time.

Each day, I spent a great deal of time in Sundance Square.

Just down a block or so from our hotel, I adore Sundance Square in Fort Worth.

Of all the places I had the privilege to visit, it was my favorite.

This area of town is a fairly recent addition to this city. It is surrounded by upscale dining and stores.

It hosts outdoor concerts each week and I’ve read you can take a yoga class early each morning.

The water fountains are full of children playing and laughing through the day. By night, couples are literally lining up with their photographers to have wedding and engagement photos made.

There are hundreds and hundreds of people strolling through the square each day, while a good many (like me!) just pull up a chair and soak up some sun (I came home with a sunburn!) while I watched the people and worked on some writing projects.

I saw at least three television crews within a half hour. I imagine this place is the perfect backdrop for all sorts of happenings.

The office of a local country station shares the space of Sundance Square.

The city streets of full of Texas culture. The aroma of barbeque drifts through the air along with the music you hear pretty much every place you visit..

On the last Sunday morning I was there, there were old men in their cowboy hats and boots- their Sunday best, no doubt, sitting in the square with their wives having lunch.

The women of Texas have a natural glamor. Their leather purses, turquoise jewelry and high heels are only complimented by perfect nails and perfect hair. Their faces are all kissed by the Texas sun and most are friendly and relaxed.

When I first arrived here, I just thought the whole city normally looks like this- I can’t even explain. It really did look like a Hollywood set. I found out later the country music awards were the same week we were there. As soon as it was over, it went to looking like every other city, full of normal, (and lovely) people living normal lives. I actually felt a little relieved. I’ve never felt so plain in my life…though I did get “Texas nails” while I was here. Paul was saying “ooh-la-la!” 😀

Paul’s work was located at the local convention center. Just on the other side was the city water gardens.

They have quiet pools and louder pools. The children run through the water and you can see people talking and walking everywhere you look.

I visited the first time the night of a local school prom. The teens were all lining up down at the foot of the garden for photos. I still can’t figure out how those girls were walking down the platforms in heels!

My visit to the Bass Performance Hall was unexpected. The man at the visitor center had told me that though they don’t advertise, you can go at 10 each Saturday morning for a free tour. I didn’t quite know what to expect but I decided that was a tour I would enjoy.

When I arrived, I was shocked to find they have volunteers come in just for these tours and I was actually given a private tour! They never have many folks show up so they literally have one volunteer for every visiting group- that was me. : )

I was able to ask lots of questions and wouldn’t you know, my tour guide had been a homeschooling momma. She knew me before we met. She pointed out lots and lots of little details.

We stepped outside and she pointed out the apartment (town home…I’m not sure what to call it!) where the architect lives on the top two floors.

She told me the artist who designed the angels actually made the bodies in a local warehouse but the wings had to be added to the building on site.

The murals on the ceilings are hand-painted with birds native to Texas. (Two brothers actually did all of the beautiful murals in the building.)

Touring the green room was impressive and sitting in the box seats with their private waiting areas was amazing.

The performance center was built for a specific piano competition. My tour guide shared a story of an Italian marble cutter who was visiting Texas for this competition. He was told that the original intent of the architect was to create a marble floor based on the Fibonacci sequence. They had decided not to go through with those plans because of budget issues. When the marble cutter heard these plans, he decided to donate his labor to cut the floors which lowered the price to an affordable 70 MILLION DOLLARS.

They are beautiful.

One of my favorite parts of the Bass Performance Hall were the bathrooms (I know, don’t judge me for taking photos of the bathroom, lol!).

The tile work in the bathroom is unbelievable. It’s REAL music (the treble line of a piece performed in the building by the Metropolitan Opera) in the women’s restroom. The men’s bathroom has the bass line. Because of the tile work and mirrors, the volunteer told me they have to post someone in the bathrooms during performances because the ladies don’t realize there are so many stalls. The mirrors make the restroom look rather small. Women will stand in line thinking what they see is a wall.  It almost reminded me of a house of mirrors.

As it happened, the Metro Opera performs there three weeks out of the year- that happened to be one of the weeks! There were stage hands and actresses on stage.

They were busy moving equipment, testing lights and practicing.

It was an amazing tour and I would love to do it again, should I find myself in Fort Worth.

One of my last stops was The Texas Hotel is where John Kennedy, Jr. spent his last night before moving on to Dallas the next day, the day of his death. The hotel is opulent and busy. On the second floor, they have a couple of displays with photos and news articles from that event.

We stopped in Dallas on the way home to The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza. That was an amazing tour.

We walked the halls that outlined the life of John Kennedy, Jr. In the end, we stood in the room where a shooter aimed his gun and killed a president in the street below. It was somber.

Paul and I have spoken several times since about this tour. I think we both enjoyed it very much and I learned a great deal. I would like to return again some day. It was very crowded and difficult to find the exhibits in order, but certainly worth trying again when there is a little more time.

Of course, there was that one night. Texas was expecting tornadoes. I was on an upper floor of the hotel and the power was flickering. I went down to the lobby to wait out the worst of it- NOW THAT was an adventure.

A few folks had trickled in to the bar area in the lobby of our hotel to wait out the heavy rain falling. I happened to be sitting in front of two men and a woman while they were waiting at the bar (of course, drinking). The woman was beautiful. She actually looked like a Barbie doll but what was coming from her mouth was not beautiful, at all. The woman was almost yelling (the more alcohol she consumed, the louder she became).

She was first talking about her children and then she started talking about her neighbor. She was telling these other men she and her husband just couldn’t bring themselves to talk to her anymore. She was just “disgusting” because she was expecting her TWELFTH child. She said she really wish she would just stop- the whole thing was just wrong.

I would LOVE to know what the chances are I would be there to hear that conversation.

I guess 100%.

*I stopped and prayed for that neighboring woman and her family. I was also reminded of why Paul and I have decided alcohol will not be part of our home. We have seen NOTHING good from it and this experience was a reminder of the destruction we have witnessed within our own families.*

We HAD to stop at Cane’s on the way home. They are Paul’s favorite chicken fingers. I’m not sure why they don’t have these back where we live, but it’s probably for the best where our dieting is concerned.

I know I will never remember all I was able to experience on this trip which is very sad to me!

I was so glad to get home to my babies. They had held Owen down when he tried to walk across the floor a few times. They knew I would want to be there for his first steps. (I’ve got the best kids!) They ALL looked much bigger.

It was nice to sleep in my bed.

I very much enjoyed the time with my husband. We have not had that kind of time together since before we had our children. It was good for both of us. I’m thankful to the Lord for many things- especially my husband who desired for me to be with him, for the memories we made, and for my children who stayed safe at home.


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