Friday, 10 June 2016

Diane does Dallas

Thursday 26th May to Sunday 29th May 2016

Having been to Dallas before we knew a bit more of what to do – first up catch the blue bus to the hire car centre and within 20 minutes of walking out of the arrival area we were driving off out of the garage and onto the freeway.
Our last trip was a bit disastrous, we ended up heading towards Fort Worth – this time with maps at hand we arrived at the hotel within 30 minutes – almost downtown Dallas.

We managed to settle in and have a bit of a relaxation before heading across the road for a bite to eat – the problem with so much air travel is that the diet takes a back seat to convenience and that cannot be good.
All we needed was a lovely serving of potato and cream soup and a toasted cheese sandwich – probably not on the higher part of the list of most nutritious of meals but it hit the spot.
Diane managed a couple of pancakes as well – she seems to be enjoying the American diet.

Not only is the air travel upsetting our diet but even on short trips we are feeling the tiredness setting in – just having to make sure that we are in time for the flight means that we arrive way too early.

Our first night in Dallas we be having dinner with Sara’s mum Dede and her husband Faan (an ex-South African, who at least knows about cricket), Sara’s uncles Dean and Jim – we have all met before and they are really great people and we desperately wanted to catch with them all again.
from left: Jim, Dean, Diane and Dede
We met at Dean and Jim’s and then drove over to the restaurant, Dunstan’s, which was a little way away – a lovely Italian place which served really great food.
We had a lovely evening which really was way too short but time constraints made it difficult to arrange to be able to get together and we were so pleased that they all found the time.

Friday was a bit of a free day for us, and so we enjoyed a bit of an extended sleep-in; but not too late to miss breakfast, which in most places (well, all places) is heavily on the American-style and we would be surprised if it wasn’t.
The weather overnight had been pretty grim – it had rained most of it and in the morning it was still coming down a bit; so we had no early plans to go out in it, although we thought that a visit to Fort Worth would be good – we had been before but wanted to see a bit more.
Diane also had more food on her mind and fancied a visit to a seafood restaurant that is a favourite of Sara’s as well as Dean’s and where we had been the last time in town.
It is called Lefty’s, apparently because when they first started up they used to buy the lobsters and crabs that only had one claw and weren’t good enough to sell for the big bucks – this kept their costs down and therefore their prices – so that they could build the business.
Ready for lunch at Lefty's...
Anyway, we had the lobster bisque as a starter (sensational, just like the last time) and then we tried different seafood pasta dishes – at the end of it we could hardly move with the quantity and it was all superb both for taste and price.

...and not disappointed either

The rain had stopped by the time we came out, so the drive to Fort Worth was in sunshine – we still managed to find traffic but also managed to find our way out of it. Fort Worth is about 50kms west of Dallas and still retains it’s cowboy image, so the place to visit are the historical Stockyards where there are plenty of cowboy themed places to spend your money as well as plenty of restaurants (mainly steakhouses) – after the lunch that we had just had, food was not on our mind, but seeing all of the places was.
Very much a bit of a tourist mecca, but you will see so many
people walking around in the full gear

Something that we would all recognise from watching TV in our
childhood - no sign of John Wayne at all

We also managed to see the cattle drive down the street – just for the tourists, these days – but it was along a street lined with parked cars and the guys in the saddles did a good job of preventing a stray longhorn veering and damaging any of the vehicles.
Just taking a stroll with the livestock...

...just down the main street - as you do

the quinessential Texas Longhorn

This is the start of the Memorial Day long weekend in America – a rememberance of fallen military personnel from all wars in which the US was involved – similar to our Anzac Day and on the same level of observance.
We have been impressed with the high regard in which all military personnel are held in America and acknowledgement of the service that they are asked to perform (whether they think it right or not, they do their duty).

Back to town and we encountered all of the people trying to make an early start for the weekend – so a little bit more traffic on the road.
With so many roads, flyover roads amd more, it should
have been less congested. This is one of the smaller
Saturday turned out to be the best day, by far. The sun was out early and it stayed out all day. We had plans and arrangements to catch up with Sara’s dad Mike – he is one hell of a nice guy (pretty much just like me!!).
Over a coffee, he mapped out the day that he had planned for us – it was a tour of the north section of greater Dallas – primarily around where he and the family had lived in the Dallas area.
So we saw the schools and house of Sara and the boys younger days – it is amazing that every decent sized high school starts with the football field and stadium and then decides on what else should go into building up a school – only kidding, but the football stadium holds 19,000 people every Friday night and cost $60 million – Football is big in Texas.
Mike is involved in commercial real estate so were visited a couple of things that he is doing at the moment – some great stuff happening there.
Mitch loves this place in Allen, Texas and with a name like that, why
wouldn't he. Anyway this is Mike with Diane

Diane has a fascination with American school buses and
when we saw some in the school parking lot - and open -
well she was like a kid in a candy shop

Got to sit in the driver's seat as well

Mike showed us around his local town centre of McKinney, which to me was exactly like we have seen on so many shows over the years of a medium sized town in America, not the big cities, but just like any town.
There was a large central area around the courthouse, which used to house the prison in the basement.
Lots of small businesses - this is the type of America that I would like to see more of and whilst they might appear all too similar, they have their on special characteristics - really loved being able to do what we did. 
Thanks Mike.
The central courthouse

Spotted this old ambulance - I recognise it from older TV shows, but these days
it is being used as a hearse

It must mean something different in America and is simply the name of a shop,
but could resist a bit of a chuckle at this sign

It is a great thing for us to be able to meet and enjoy the company of Sara’s whole family and to have them respond to us in the same manner – it is really like having another family – at least being part of another family and we are genuinely happy to see them all.
If you thought that the TV show Dallas wasn't filmed around here - WRONG!
Here is the front entrance ...

...and the long drive...

...and the homestead itself.

We had such a great 3 days in Dallas; we will be looking forward to the next time that we can visit there and hopefully being able to see them in either the UK or in Melbourne.

But it was time for us to say farewell to the US for this trip and fly back to the UK – if only at least for me to get back to work and pay off the credit card.
As we have done on the boat for so long, we looked at the weather reports for our last morning – Sunday – rain and very likely thunderstorms – don’t like the sound of that so best to get going early, return the car and sit it out.

It was not ridiculously early and we did decide to have breakfast at the airport and the plane was on time. The first flight was a quick 3-hour flight to Newark to then connect with the flight home (overnight) – the first was on time; the second left a little late but we arrived about 15 minutes early into Birmingham…just a little tired.

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