Lexington to DFW - Part 2
(A Week in the DFW Metroplex)
Feb. 22-26, 2010
Big City Life and Country Surprises
by David "Sumoflam" Kravetz
Feb 22, 2010: A nice Sunday to relax. Got to spend some time with my sister Sherry, her husband Brian and my cute niece Savannah. I would spend all of my evenings this week at their nice home in Keller, just north of Forth Worth. After sleeping in we headed out for lunch to Joe's Crab Shack. Always a fun place to eat, especially when feeling crabby. It turns out that little four-year old Savannah LOVES eating crab and could not wait to "get crackin'"!
My Niece Savannah Blessing LOVES Joe's Crab Shack
Sister Sherry and her husband Brian Blessing enjoying time together with us. Typical non-food crab shack fare abounds
Savannah tempts the bigger fish.....
After a nice lunch of crab and other goodies, we headed for a ride down to the brand new Cowboys Stadium. This place is the hugest football arena I have ever seen!! The stadium resides in Arlington, TX, between Dallas and Ft. Worth and is across the street from the Texas Rangers Baseball Stadium and a stone's throw away from Six Flags over Texas. The stadium opened in May 2009 with a capacity of 80,000 (though there is a record attendance in the facility of over 105,000 when the Cowboys played the NY Giants in Sept. 2009 and that was then broken exactly one week before I got in Texas when the NBA All-Star Game was played to a crowd of over 108,000!!!). It is the third largest stadium in the U.S. in terms of seating capacity, but it is also covered, with a retractable roof, making it the largest domed stadium in the world. It also has the world's largest column-free interior and boasts the world's largest high-definition video screen - 160 feet wide by 72 feet tall!!
Standing waaaay in front of Cowboys Stadium; the famous Cowboys star dons flags near the stadium; a side view of the stadium
In the 1960s I lived in the Dallas area and grew up as a fan of Tom Landry, their famed coach. A nice bronze honors him at the stadium.
The amazing hi-def video screen spans from the 20 yd line to the other 20 yd line.
Feb 23, 2010: It is Monday and I start my grueling week visiting high schools in and around Dallas. I learned very quickly that one cannot depend on a map to get around Dallas. You MUST have a GPS if you plan on getting anywhere in a timely fashion. Freeways snake around the city and weave and and around each other. I was staying in Keller and had to drive to downtown Dallas, about a 35 mile drive, but, in the morning, it is about an hour and a half drive, if there are no problems on the freeway. Looking at a map looks simple, but once you get on the freeway system, getting lost is easier than you think. Get a GPS!!
Red brake lights and long delays are indicative of Dallas traffic. Towering freeway platforms are everywhere...a maze of cement and steel.
During the weeklong visit to schools, I also got to see a good chunk of downtown Dallas. Unlike the back roads I enjoy so much, the big cities are a different kind of wilderness...tall buildings, amazing architectural structures and unique skylines. I have been blessed to have visited practically every major metropolitan area in the United States and have gotten to know each unique city skyline as if it were a person's face. Dallas has one of the more unique ones. Though I didn't have time to really get out and get some good shots, I was able to capture a few images of the buildings downtown.
Of course, with big buildings comes interesting art work, whether large or small. Here are a couple of things I found while driving around...always with my camera at my side:
As noted above, I was visiting shortly after the NBA All-Star Game. On the left was a GIANT poster (shoes larger than stop lights)...
on the right, a small mural on the side of a building
This one blew me away...a giant mural on the side of a parking lot. Entitled "The Storm", this giant mural was painted by Dallas artists Chris Arnold and Jeff Garrison of Eyecon, Inc. in May 1997.
It is 120 feet tall and 150 feet wide and literally impossible to photograph without wires and signs. (Actually, an uninhibited version can be seen here). Eyecon has painted several fantastic murals
in the Dallas area, all of which can be seen on their Eyecon website. I need three days of freedom in downtown Dallas just to go visit these amazing works of art!!
Obviously, another thing one sees in downtown settings are the old relief works of art. I really loved this one.
During the week in Dallas, I met friends, new and old, with whom I enjoyed some fine meals. On Monday I had dinner with members of the North Dallas High School Boosters. We ate at one of Dallas' oldest Mexican restaurants, the El Fenix. Food was great and the company fantastic!! Then, to finish off my week I was lucky to meet an old friend who happened to be in Ft. Worth for the weekend, visiting from Seattle. My favorite female artist, country rocker Patti Hall, was in town. We met for a nice dinner at the Blue Mesa Grill, an upscale Tex-Mex establishment that makes your guacamole fresh for you at your table. It was so nice to see Patti. She is not only an amazing musician, but is a fabulously generous person. She has been tirelessly promoting her "On Horses' Wings" CD, a compilation of various artists (including Antsy McClain) that is benefiting an organization called the "Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center", which provides therapeutic horseback riding to children and adults with disabilities who live in the Puget Sound area. It is an amazing and heart-touching CD that benefits an equally amazing organization. I first met Patti when on tour with Antsy McClain in southwest Washington (see my trip journal about that here).
Hanging with new friends Gil Sandoval and John Chavez, from N. Dallas Boosters...we enjoyed great eats at El Fenix
A couple of shots of Patti Hall and me at Blue Mesa Grill -- just a lucky catch thanks to Facebook updates
Not all of my time this week was spent in Dallas. I also visited schools in Irving, Keller, Ft. Worth and even as far away as Mineral Wells. One of the schools I visited near Keller was Birdville High School. I was surprised both by the huge athletic facility and the wonderful marquis.
Birdville's facility is actually one of the semi-large ones...there are much larger. And I loved the marquis!!
A reminder of old Americana...the Kool Breeze Motel near Irving
Perhaps the most delightful day of the week for me was the drive to Mineral Wells, TX via Weatherford. This was truly mixing business with pleasure as I made my way down some less beaten paths. There were some cool old buildings, some cool yard art, some cool sculptures and even a cool town name Cool. There is a lot of history on road like this and I got to breath it in and enjoy it.
Just outside of Weatherford is a garden shop with some great bronze works. I really liked the Longhorn in the upper middle
On the left is the Parker County Courthouse in Weatherford, built in 1886. It is a classic Texas style courthouse. There was a hill near town that probably would have made for a great shot, but I had no time to get up there. As I neared the building to the front left of the courthouse, I caught this man sitting there enjoying the day. The old white-washed wall made a nice canvas.
May not have been the "Kool Breeze", but there is actually a town in Texas named Cool. Got a chuckle from the Cool Cafe as well.
I checked the window and the sign said "SHUT". HA!! By the way, I have visited another town in the past named Coolville, which is in
Ohio. You can read about that town here. There are cool town names everywhere!!
The last cool place on this week's trip in the Dallas area was Mineral Wells. It is not a very large town, but does have some claim to fame. The town's name comes from the mineral springs close by, which were frequented by guests in the early 1900s and the famous Baker Hotel, which accommodated those guests. The Baker Hotel was built in 1925 by local shareholders. It was a 14 story hotel with 450 guest rooms, two ballrooms, an in-house beauty shop, and other novelties such as a bowling alley, a gymnasium, and an outdoor swimming pool. Completed in 1929 dollars at a cost of $1.2 million, the mammoth building instantly dominated the city skyline and was the first skyscraper built outside a major metropolitan area. The old building still towers over the town, but is empty and ghostly now, as the photos below show:
The Old Baker Hotel: Several notable celebrities this a temporary home during their visits to the city's health spas;
the star studded guest list included the likes of Glenn Miller, Lawrence Welk, Clark Gable,
and future U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson. It is even rumored by local historians that
legendary outlaws Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow may have spent a night or two at the Baker.
Some scenes from downtown Mineral Wells. The water is also famous for "Crazy Water"
and so the town wants to keep itself crazy I suppose.
I loved the old antique and junque store in town.
If you missed part 1, "Seeking out the Bugtussles of America", click the link
Watch for part 3 soon...An Uncertain trip in search of Waldo
Some roadside guidance provided by......
See more of Sumoflam's Trip Journals