We arrived in Arlington, a suburb of Dallas and part of what they call the MetroPlex. The sky was cloudy and becoming more threatening. Just as we were heading out to meet my friend Irene Benjamin for dinner, the heavens opened and we were treated to a thunder and lightning storm with the treat of hail. Doug was fearful of what hail could possibly do to our rig. Just a few weeks prior there was a hail storm that did considerable damage in this very RV park. One neighbor had 400 dents in the body of his truck. Apparently mobile dent repair is very big business in this area in the spring. The RV has vulnerable antennas and skylights on the roof.
Irene is a good friend of ours from Long Beach. She was one of the first tenants Paul and I had when we bought our first apartment building. Irene selected us to be her daughter’s God parents. Irene eventually helped us care for both our parents in their later years. She lives her faith and we love her for it….a great inspiration. She introduced us that night to Texas BBQ…Yummmmmmmmmmmmm.
Every where we have gone out of California, gas is around $2 a gallon – even under $2.00 here in Texas. Our last 100 gallon diesel purchase was at $1.88 a gallon!
A little about Texas….the Metroplex of Dallas has a population of just under 7 million, same as as LA county. There is no state income tax, but the property tax for Dallas County is 2.53% of assessed value.. That seems high, but we are told you can buy a 4-5 bedroom house in the suburbs with a pool for $320,000. That is not so bad either. Matt said that most of the people he has met were not born here. Everywhere we traveled in the city (exhibits, museums, restaurants) people asked us to “come to Texas!”.
RV Parks are not equal. Some have every amenity with absolutely no charm. Here in the Tree Top RV Park there are over 300 sites and it is charming. This park has mature oaks everywhere.
My guess is it was built many many years ago out far far in the country. Today it is less than a mile from one of the most beautiful and extensive shopping areas I have every seen. I did read that there are more shopping malls in Texas per capita than any other place in the US. This proved to be true as we explored.
Today we ventured into Dallas to meet Doug’s son, Matt, and his partners in his impressive office in North Dallas. Wow look at this view. Matt is a Major League Baseball agent and attorney in Dallas. This is his dream job. He loves his job, his associates and boss. He loves and lives baseball!
We also found out that despite Google Maps, Dallas 5 pm traffic is just as bad as LA. With all the construction, a driver, and a navigator (me), we found it hard to navigate the city. Matt came to the rescue as our tour guide and driver.
Speaking of happy sons, if it weren’t for my recent Face Book membership, I probably would have missed this picture. This is a picture of my oldest son, Sean, at his promotion ceremony to Batallion Cheif for the City of Orange. He is flanked by my other two sons, Christopher and Andy. How they all ended up in the Fire Service beats me. Christopher is an engineer for LA County and Andy is a fireman in the Long Beach Fire Department. I am so proud of them but, most of all, I am happy that they are happy in their chosen profession. There is a certain camaraderie in the fire service that you often don’t find in other professions
April Fool’s Day
We started the day in the Historical District called West End at a restaurant called Ellen’s….breakfast served all day. I was adventuresome and tried a fried tomato salad and side of cheesy grits. Loved it. I don’t think I could find either dish in Redding!
The day started at Dealey Plaza, the famous site where John F. Kennedy was shot. We all remember where we were on that morning in November 1963. I was a senior in high school and practicing for Poly’s homecoming game. Doug was helping build a huge bonfire for Big Game at Stanford. Dealy Plaza is smaller than I imagined.
A few days later we spent an afternoon on an audio tour of the 6th Floor Book Depository where Lee Harvey Oswald supposedly fired the fatal shot. It is a beautifully done museum detailing the history and events of that sad time. Doug was surprised that, as detailed as this tour was, nothing (nanda, zip, zero) mentioned about what happened at the hospital nor were the observations of the trauma surgeons that cared for him presented. Doug remains very skeptical because the the attending surgeons’s observations of the original wounds do NOT support the Warren Commission conclusions of a single assassin. (Click Here for Doug’s thoughts) Did you know that a Congressional Commission on Assassinations (published in 1979) found that there is high probability the president was killed as the result of a conspiracy and that there were probably two gunmen? Interestingly these newer conclusions have never made it into school history books.
I was surprised at how emotional this trip back in history was for me. I found myself tearing up at many of the familiar photos. (See Doug’s attached notes)
The Perot Museum was our next stop… four floors of fabulous exhibits from skeletons of enormous prehistoric mammals, to longitudinal slices of the human body, MRI’s of the brain, gems stones, to displays of oil excavation. We wished we had allowed more time.
At 6:30 pm we met Matt at DBU (Dallas Baptist University) for a baseball game. He and his partners were watching a couple of future MLB prospects. This is the most beautiful college campus I have ever seen. It was like a movie set….rolling hills near a beautiful lake. The church is the center of the campus. It is a school of 5,500 students. The baseball stadium was consistent with the rest of the architecture of the campus….red brick. Guess what…..no beer was served at the concession stand!
I love Dallas. We spent the afternoon at the George Bush Presidential Library on the campus of SMU (Southwest Methodists University). This library is in downtown Dallas and is bordered by a residential area called Highland Park. This is an area of large trees surrounding beautiful old homes – sort of like Tierra Oaks or Virgina Country Club on steroids. The Library is actually on the campus of Southern Methodist University – yet another beautiful college campus.
This beautifully done museum/library details President Bush’s contributions to our history. He is a man of faith and led this county based on the principles of that faith. His presidency encompassed 9/11, the Iraq war and the removal of Saddam Hussein, the Iraq occupation, hurricane Katrina, the “surge” and the financial crisis.
Again I found myself very emotional at the 9/11 exhibition. As with the Kennedy assassination, we all remember where we were when our nation was attacked. Two of my favorites exhibits were the life size replica of the Oval Office decorated exactly as it was when he was in office. We got our picture taken there. This may be the closest Doug or Matt comes to being President – well Matt is still thinking about it!
Matt lives in a area call Uptown. A Yuppie neighborhood (can I still say that?) that reminds me much of Westwood CA,…very alive. He treated us to a beautiful evening at a restaurant on the edge of Klyde Warren ParkPark. This is a 3 block long park in the heart of downtown Dallas. According to Matt, a rich Dallas man bought this park for his youngest son. He didn’t feel this particular son had enough sense of responsibility so he told him he needed to keep the park clean. Concerts are held on the grass. Our pictures can’t show the smells, or wind, or the sounds of kids on the playground. It was simply alive and this beautiful balmy afternoon that turned into the night sky line of Dallas.
We were up early to drive back into Dallas. Because of the location of our RV park we had a 30 minute drive in and out of Dallas….things are actually starting to look familiar. We decided to attend a church that is located the center of the downtown. It is a “mega” church called First Baptist of Dallas. The pastor is Robert Jeffers is familiar to us as a Fox News contributor. The original church is very traditional with brick, leaded glass windows and steeples. The newer church literally “encompasses” the old church as part of its inner structure. It has approximately 10,000 members and has a worship hall that holds 3,000. There was a 160 member choir and a full orchestra. Doug was in seventh heaven with the music like Amazing Grace. He spotted a large pipe organ and said “Now I’m in a real church” – he loves organ music.
Upon arrival we were met in the parking structure and escorted by a greeter assigned to new guests. He introduced us to another greeter that showed us the diversity in age and ethnicity of those attending the service. At least half of the men were in suits and ties and half the women wore dresses and high heels. Refreshing!
Tomorrow, Monday, we pack up our RV house and “move on down the road” to Austin the state capital. More to follow…