Across Texas (part one)

The trip to Texas was no doubt our busiest to date. Although we put on fewer highway miles than, say, in our Florida adventure, we saw incomparably more and in shorter time. It is hard to be exact with figures, for we shuffled our itinerary as the need arose and included some of the previously unconsidered items when we had time for it; but we must have visited over 90 sights in five days. And here they are.

Dallas

Our journey started with a delay because our airplane got turned around an hour after the takeoff due to a medical emergency with one of the passengers. On the second try we made it to the Dallas-Fort Worth airport, only to find out that a courtesy shuttle bus that was supposed to take us to the car rental office stalled in the middle of the one-lane access tunnel, effectively blocking off all shuttle traffic to our terminal. And because there was already a significant build-up behind the stuck bus, no one could back out either.

After some twenty minutes of waiting and abortive attempts to talk the driver into letting us push the vehicle past the tunnel entrance, we decided to walk towards the next terminal. Once we caught another shuttle, we had to endure a 20-minute ride inside a tight space full of people and their luggage. Pressed for time, we took off for Dallas as soon as we got a hold of the rental vehicle.

In within a third of an hour we reached the city. Skimming over the Cathedral Santuario de Guadalupe, which could hardly shine through the dominance of the adjoining new construction, we headed to the Crow Asian Museum.

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The museum was being closed off for some private party, but the supervisor kindly let us in for a quick look-around. Grateful for the courtesy, we were ironically unimpressed by the collection.

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To compensate for the cultural disenchantment (or maybe ignorance), we bet on the more diversified and Westerner-friendly Dallas Museum of Art. As expected, we found ourselves right at home casting apprehending looks at much more familiar visual forms.

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While it may not always be possible to discern the difference between ingenious and insane, I suppose there is a place for everything in a museum setting as long as someone considers it art. But what a tough call it must be at times.

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As for the museum itself, it is open for public at no cost and features a whole spectrum of graphic art and a capacious performance hall overlooked by several of the exhibitions rooms. We had the luck to be there during a jazz concert, which made our tour all the more pleasant.

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Next was the Klyde Warren Park, a kind of an oversized oblong safety island in the middle of a major freeway.

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We proceeded to several other nearby locations on foot. First was the Fountain Place, a little shady recreational ground hemmed about by office buildings and set with countless water fountains and cascades.

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Then we caught a glimpse of the Perot Museum of Nature and Science and made our way around the city center.

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In search of the red luminescent Pegasus sign we had read about online we coincidentally discovered a great view of the Old Red Museum building and a lavishly furnished leather goods store.

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After more rambling around we stopped somewhere for a snack and wondered about a good place to photograph the skyline of the business center after dark. I believe we found such a spot.

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It should be noted that the Dallas high-risers make no less an impression in the broad daylight, owing to their dainty and original yet unobtrusive designs.

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But I digress… The following morning, even though we had some unfinished business in Dallas, we left for Fort Worth, worrying that we would have to eventually skip many places if we lingered any longer. Besides, there was always a chance for further detainment due to bad weather, in which case the inclusion of one or more cities—let alone places—would be in jeopardy.

Amazingly, though, we managed to not only see more than we had planned throughout the remainder of our trip, but to return to Dallas the evening before our departure, which gave us plenty of time to cross the remaining sight-seeing items out of our list.

One of those was the Swiss Avenue Historic District, a home to the most refined upper-class residencies in the area. These majestic houses and estates could, and might, have easily appeared on the cover of some pretentious real estate magazine without further embellishment.

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Ah, what luxury.

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The next destination was the Fair Park. Reassured by our earlier success in time management, we slowly traversed its grounds, laid about an artificial pond, for over an hour, until we all grew rather hungry.

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Longing for a (well-deserved) comfortable evening in a hotel with some hot food on the table, we swung by the much advertised and praised Angry Dog Café. Situated in the artistically inclined Deep Ellum neighborhood, it is the winner of multiple best burger awards—a fact that we wanted to put to the test. But before we had a chance to order our meal, we could not simply pass by some of the local artistic displays.

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And yes, the burger turned up quite good.

On our last day in Dallas, practically hours before our flight, we stopped at the Nasher Sculpture Center. Fortunately, the size of the establishment did not implicate a lengthy acquaintance, though its collection was actually a lively one.

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Any of these sculptures would probably look great in our living room… at least on Halloween.

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Some of the exhibits are erected outside.

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At that point in our journey we were actually headed back to the car rentals and then to the airport. But at this point in my story we are merely advancing to day two and our exploration of Fort Worth.

Fort Worth

Because some of my prior mail correspondence, with such lovely correspondents as Blue Cross insurance and IRS, had P.O. Box destinations in Fort Worth, Texas, I always fancied that it would be an overwhelmingly white-collar, musty, bureaucratic limbo, full of offices, headquarters, and governmental buildings. This happened to be very untrue.

The presence of a botanical garden was the first sign of my delusion. It was not great, but it was there; and to maintain a garden that size must be a laborious task in such a clime. Surely it was not the bureaucrats who cared for the biodiversity. :)

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Even though the view from the 7th Street bridge over the Clear Fork Trinity River could have consolidated the fallacy I had begotten, such landmarks as the Ball-Eddleman-McFarland House, the Saint Patrick Cathedral, and Flatiron Building definitively proved me wrong.

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Diverting décor and establishments of varying cultural value all helped to repaint a new picture of Fort Worth in my head.

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The visitation of the downtown, and overview of the Sundance Square and Tarrant County Courthouse in particular, contributed more warm tones to that picture.

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A quick rant: I always sincerely regret when a particular museum bans photography on its premises, for over time it leaves the visitor with but a vague speck of memory and no visual clues to conjure up the images of the past. To me, photographs provide a valuable mnemonic fiber that at times enables my mind to uncover the long forgotten deposits of unique experiences, settings, and sensations. And for that reason I can vividly recall the three brave washermen toiling half-way up an otherwise unremarkable skyscraper facade but not a picture seen at the SId Richardson Museum. Not one.

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The exploration of Fort Worth would certainly be incomplete without at least a look-see at the Stockyards National Historic District, which is where we wound up next.

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Deftly restored or recreated scenery from the days of old, dotted with numerous articles of clothing, furniture, trade, and even transportation of the same era, the Stock Yards were one of the highlights of our trip.

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Far and wide, lots of eye candy—from thematic graffiti to an exemplary spice shop—for any pair of non-diabetic eyes.

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And, of course, the daily herd passing.

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It can be amusing to observe the dominance games among the stock of longhorns at a local pasture.

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But only if are a patient zoologist with heaps of time on your hands… which we are thankfully not. So we routed our GPS to Austin and hit the road again.

 

(to be continued)

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