Dallas – 9th & 10th July 2011
Desert, cactus, cowboys (or cowgirls), country music and boot scooting. That was the stereotype of Texas that I had in my head before we touched down in Dallas, Texas. After a longer than expected wait to be cleared through Immigration and Customs, we were greeted by our host, Bob, who had been very patiently waiting for us.
After kindly driving us around to locate certain electronic goods, we settled in before heading out for some Tex Mex where we got to try some local Mexican food (fajitas - including a sizzling chicken on a hot plate with flour tortillas - and drink yummy margaritas of course!). The restaurant even did an extra hot salsa with habanero chillies instead of jalapeños, for my dear hubby who can never get enough chillies. Although the sauce didn’t cause hiccups (a good tell sign if it’s too hot), it was still quite yummy. We got to hear happy birthday in two part harmony for a family behind us, and experience the famous friendly American service (a stark contrast to the surly Aussie service found in many cafes and restaurants, particularly in Canberra).
The next day, we got up early – a huge achievement for hubby – to hit the road before the heat got too overwhelming. The heat is very similar to a hot Canberra summer; it’s dry and the sun burns the skin like it does in Australia (I know it’s the same sun, but the feeling of the sun on the skin was just like home).
Bob took us to see the Denison Dam where we saw the Red River, located between Texas and Oklahoma. The drought that has plagued Texas was evident through the low water line. There were the remnants of an old pier, sticking through the water, causing a minor obstacle course for the people cruising slowly around, fishing for striped bass and bream. We people watched for a few moments, seeing people wading knee to waist deep, and seeing the Great Blue Heron out fish the surrounding humans.
Next stop was Eisenhower State Park where we did a bush walk (or hike as it’s known locally), to fossil hunt. We spent over an hour wandering a trail in the woodlands, spotting a range of fossils such as sea worms, snails, and lots of clams. We even found a few whole rocks that split apart to show some very awesome secrets. The woodlands were lovely – I could hear the loud calls of the cicadas, Lake Texoma where we spotted more wild life and house boats, sun flowers and a number of other flowering plants and lots of spiders wearing horizontal webs.
On the way to the Hagerman National Wildlife Reserve, we took an fortunate accidental detour where we saw a mockingbird (the state bird for Texas), a scissortail flycatcher and a great little mounted aircraft marking a local airport. When we got to the Wildlife Reserve, where we did a quick drive around. This is a funny place. There’s lots of working oil pumps among all this lovely birding areas. We spotted Great Egrets, Snowy Egret, and even a young coyote!
After our morning of wildlife and fossil excitement, we headed over to the State Fair Grounds for A Taste of Dallas food fair. Boy, are Texans a friendly bunch of people! A lovely couple drove past and offered us their unused tickets to the fair (saving us the entry fee). We appreciated this gesture of kindness – it’s made it an even more brilliant day. We got into the fair and spent the new few hours sampling a range of food, drinks and activities (like a petting zoo, spray painting t-shirt stall and more). One of my favourites was the S’more Cupcake (fluffy chocolate and marshmallow goodness), a steampunk jewellery store and an illustrator who did some lovely science/geeky drawings. Even hubby got a souvenir, involving a custom Make Hack Void t-shirt created.
We couldn’t ask for better hosts. Bob and his family were extremely gracious and welcoming, going out of their way to organise a range of really interesting activities that appealed to both s us. We had such a great time, taking very fond memories of our short but very fulfilling weekend.
So for now, it’s good bye Dallas and hello Vegas!