Almost 28 hours after I left my house I finally arrived in Dallas, Texas.
The day got off to a slow start when United Airlines decided to delay the flight by an hour and forty minutes. Liberace was flying the plane (ok it only sounded like him) and I had a pleasant surprise when I ran into an ex student on the Melbourne to Sydney leg. David was on his way to New York to teach and take some dance classes.
The Sydney to Los Angeles sector ended up leaving 2 hours late but arrived only one hour late. Oh my God this flight seemed to take forever. I sat next to a lovely young man who was a Phd student on his way to Canada to present his paper on conservation. I ended up watching 3 movies with sound and one without. I just couldn’t sleep even though I was exhausted. The first movie was Valentine’s Day (a lot of dribble). The second was Ghost Writer (a Roman Polanski film), the third was Invictus. The fourth I never caught the title but it had Brendan Fraser and Harrison Ford. Without the dialogue I got that Brendan Fraser had some sick children and Harrison Ford was trying to find a cure.
On the Los Angeles to Dallas leg again I was seated next to a lovely young man with dive in eyes. There is a God in Air Travel Heaven. This flight was about 3 hours but went fairly quickly.
Ok so I’m here now. Things that I have observed so far, are the Texans have really nice manners and they like big road signs. Oh and they like big buildings with huge mirror type windows. The people are also very friendly and genuinely interested in talking to an Australian.
I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer so went to bed and looked forward to exploring the next day. Night night…
In the morning I went in search of food and was able to find something for breakfast and lunch to last me a few days and dinner tonight. I was hit with jetlag in the middle of the day and ended up falling asleep for a couple of hours. After lunch I decided to visit the area where JFK was shot on the 22nd November 1963.
The Sixth Floor Museum is dedicated to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and is in the
same building from which Lee Harvey Oswald allegedly fired the shots. It is essentially an audio tour of a very good display. The display starts with JFK’s election through to his assassination and subsequent investigations and conspiracy theories. I love a good conspiracy theory!
Outside and across the street is Dealey Plaza, the grassy knoll and the nearby underpass. It is here that JFK was actually shot. Looking at it in person I certainly recognised the landmarks from footage I had seen on TV. I hadn’t realised that the grassy knoll was so close to the roadway though. His assassination occurred exactly two week after I was born and my mum told me that the event upset my (Irish) father to no end.
Up the street, a little further, on the corner of Houston and Main Streets is the Old Red Museum of Dallas Country History and Culture. One block back on Market Street is the JFK Memorial – a nice space but that is all there is to it. All these places were only a couple of blocks away from my hotel which was on Elm Street.
Unfortunately I didn’t get to sleep until almost 5am because of jetlag and consequently slept in. I picked up the car at about 11am and headed over to Fort Worth. I had been given a few directions for getting onto the freeway to Fort Worth and did well in making my way there. It is about 15 years since I have driven in the U.S. and getting used to being on the other side of the car and on the other side of the road proved challenging at times. Twice I nearly drove down the wrong side of the road and a few times I put the windscreen wipers on instead of the indicator. As I approached Fort Worth I didn’t know which exit to take and eventually I got off the freeway and turned the GPS on to find my way to the stockyards.
Fort Worth, in the locals own words, is a cow town. The Stockyards area is two miles north of Fort Worth downtown. With its old storefronts and slow pace it evokes images of yesteryear when great cattle drives and outlaws were the norm. The Sundance Kid and Bonnie & Clyde all spent some time here. Although the area has museums and souvenir shops it doesn’t feel like a theme park. The locals are quite laid back. I decided to visit the Stockyards Collection Museum and the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame. Along the pavements there are stars with the names of people who have contributed to the Texas way of life. Billy Bob’s is the largest honky tonk in the world. It has a little bit of everything there – a bull ring, several bars, a bbq area, a dance floor for all that bootscootin’, a souvenir shop, mechanical bull riding, pool tables and lots of memorabilia. I’d love to go back another time with someone and attend at night time – I think it would be a real hoot.
After the Cattle Drive I headed back to the car and got lost many times on the way back to Dallas. The GPS announced it was ‘recalculating’ at least five times. The main problem was, not that I missed turn offs but that the Texan freeways frequently split off into two directions and you must be in the correct lane or you head off to another destination. I did finally make it back to the hotel though – thank God for the GPS!