TRAVEL HERE: HOW I ALMOST DIDN’T GET TO GRAPEFEST AT ALL
OK, I admit it. I’m older than I used to be. I don’t find noisy, crowded places as charming as I once did. However, the crowds were the least of my problems when I went to Grapefest.
When my friend Iliana suggested going to Grapefest, there was nothing on my calendar, so it seemed like a great idea. Bill and I even discussed the possibility of booking a hotel over on that side of town to make a real occasion of it. Good thing we didn’t.
The week just before Grapefest I got news a dear friend’s health was fading fast. Within days she was gone. The memorial service was scheduled in the middle of the day we planned to attend to Grapefest. Compounding the conflict, one of our tenants had some repair issues needing Bill’s attention. Then another “must do” activity came up for Sunday.
It was tempting to blow off the festival altogether. Grapevine is way over on the other side of Dallas from our home in Heath. If this had been an event Bill and I had planned for ourselves, we would have come back home that evening and drank wine on our own patio rather than make a trek across Dallas. However, Iliana, Loree and their fellows were looking forward to us being with them, so we worked it out.
I started my day very early in my office, of course. The vegetable bin was empty, so I had to go to the Farmer’s Market. Then I had some chores around the house that needed immediate attention. At the appointed hour I got ready for the memorial service and put together another outfit to change into for Grapefest. I allowed twice as much time as I thought I’d need to get to the service, because I was sure there would be people there that I wanted to see.
Bill had taken my car to the meeting with the tenant and left his Mercedes for me to drive. Great, right? Not exactly. The Mercedes is entirely too sporty for this old lady. The steering is tight and so is the suspension. Besides that I’m not familiar with the all the gadgets and the dashboard might as well be a Ouija Board, because I can’t operate either one. The list goes on, but just understand I prefer my own car.
As I pulled out of the garage (missing the back-up camera on my car) I noticed the sky looked pretty ominous. I decided to take the more direct route to the highway, rather than the route winding through the neighborhood, for the sake of time. Well the more direct route was a parking lot. I watched the minutes tick by, grumbling because his clock is in a completely different place than my clock.
The bridge across Lake Ray Hubbard was crowded and when I got to the Bush Tollway the sky started to sprinkle. Bill’s car also complained to me that the tires’ air pressure needed correcting. As I tried to decide whether this was a critical issue or not, the rain began to pour.
When I got to Central I was glad I’d left early, because it appeared I’d still make it to the church with some time to spare. At least it seemed that way until I realized traffic wasn’t flowing at the usual speed. In fact, it wasn’t flowing at all. Between the traffic and the unfamiliar car, my stress level was through the sunroof. And the rain wasn’t letting up. That’s when I remembered my emergency umbrella was in the trunk of the car in my usual purse, rather than the clutch I had inside the car with me.
I finally came to my exit, but the major thoroughfare was yet another parking lot. I finally slid into my seat at the service as the family marched into the memorial service. Just then my purse vibrated with a text. Bill wanted to know where we should meet after the funeral for the trip to Grapevine. I needed some high blood pressure medicine.
My friend was a wonderful woman, beloved by many. I was so glad I had come to honor her, but the day hadn’t gone as I planned. I was sitting there among strangers instead of the friends I knew must be somewhere in the sanctuary. I sat through the proceedings, absorbing the things which were being said, but I was so stressed out I couldn’t connect with them. The moment the service was over, a text let me know Bill was waiting for me out front. No comforting hugs would be shared with my fellow mourners.
I climbed in the car and pointed out where I’d parked his car. He parked behind the Mercedes and I scurried around unloading everything I needed into my Nissan. When I got in, Bill suggested that we move the Mercedes closer to LBJ. I went back to the Mercedes and followed Bill to someplace near LBJ, but the day had been too much. I was crying like a baby.
Bill was completely oblivious to my drama and had his own issues. He’d started the day working in our yard and had moved on to doing repairs at the rental house. He’d dealt with his own stresses in connecting with me. He was hoping that I’d do the driving, but quickly figured out that he would have to transport the emotional mess I’d turned into since I walked out of the church. I’d seemed fine, then.
The Break That Wasn’t
I tried to explain to Bill why I was so distraught, but it turned into one of those “Men Are From Mars Women Are From Venus” moments when Bill tried to explain to me why everything was now going to be OK, based on the absence of rain. So I focused on getting to the girls who would completely get what I was feeling, but Bill needed some Starbucks. He has a penchant for asking me to find a Starbucks on my phone immediately after we’ve gone past the last one in close proximity. He doesn’t do it on purpose. So I found a Starbucks and directed him back to it – just at the moment the rest of Irving arrived. We couldn’t park anywhere nearby and the drive-thru line was remarkably long. But we did park. Maybe coffee would change things. Not that I drink coffee, but if poppa is happy, then it’s more likely that I will have the opportunity to be happy.
I closeted myself in the bathroom to change my clothes. Just about the time I was down to my knickers someone banged on the door of the one-toilet restroom. I was familiar with their desperation, so I turned up the speed, grabbed all my stuff and went back into the restaurant to sort through things, hoping I hadn’t left anything valuable or embarrassing behind.
While Bill tried to enjoy his coffee in the madhouse, I tried to enrich my life with a semblance of order, hanging my suit and moving my critical items from the fashionable clutch I’d carried to the funeral to a small cross-body bag better suited to a festival. I also texted my girls that I was on the way and in need of much sympathy.
Bill and I planned to take advantage of the free parking and free shuttle, but one of my friends assured me there was parking across from the main gate. She failed to mention the $10 price tag. I drove to the festival, then turned around to go back to the free parking. A $10 parking fee was not the best way to begin Bill’s visit to the festival, especially with all the emotional baggage we’d be carrying in with us. There was plenty of available spaces in the free parking lot, but the line for the shuttle was reminiscent of the line we’d seen at the Starbuck’s drive thru.
I was texting the girls of my imminent arrival, but I didn’t get their location until we were steps away from the gate. The bright sun made reading the text something of a challenge. I compared the text to the Grapefest map we’d been given and guessed where my friends would be. I guessed wrong.
The sun was beating down as only the Texas sun can do. The festival was wall-to-wall people and the music from a band was deafening. After making all the wrong turns, we backtracked and found our friends happily enjoying wine inside a winery tasting room. I was starving, but the food choice was a to-go pack with cheese and crackers. I needed a glass of wine, but all they were serving were over-priced mini-pours in plastic cups. At least I had my girls.
As the sun headed towards the horizon, we wandered outside to take in the festival. We visited a few booths and found a place to stand, by one of the loud bands. We hung out there for awhile and then decided to try to get a real meal. Bill was starving, but that didn’t shorten the wait one iota. We were all about to escape the festival when they let us know our table was ready. We should have left.
Bill spent entirely too many years in food service to tolerate the incredibly poor service we received. Yes, there was a festival going on outside the restaurant, but it does seem like they could deliver the silverware before they brought the food to our table. They also delivered the entree at the same time they delivered the soups and salads. Bill asked to speak to a manager, but was ignored. I’d tell you where we were, but eventually Bill did find someone to complain to and they gave us a gift certificate to come back and give them another chance. It wouldn’t be nice to diss them after promising to give them another chance. More to come.
I Had Expected a Different Experience
So, I used to live on the Central Coast of California. One lovely day Bill and I went to a Wine Festival in Astascadero. The event was held in a lovely tree-shaded lake-side park. We parked for free nearby and if I remember correctly there was no entry fee. We strolled around the festival and the lake. Bill thought the price of tastings was prohibitive and there was the driving back to Pismo Beach to consider, so we just enjoyed the sights. It was a thoroughly delightful day. I imagined the same sort of thing for Grapefest, but planned on tasting in spite of the price.
Instead, the festival is on the city’s Main Street and the center of the street is filled with vendors. Like I said: hot, loud, crowded. However, folks were having a grand old time of it and I am sure next year will only be louder and more crowded. The weather I can’t speak to.
I’m thinking if we ever went back to Grapefest, we’d opt for going any day except Saturday, but that’s us. Should you go to Grapefest? I think you should. Just choose your experience more carefully than we did. If the loud, crowded hullabaloo entices you, have at it. Otherwise, opt for a quieter experience.