TRAVEL THERE: WHO KNEW SCOTTSDALE HAD A WATERFRONT?
Across the street from Fashion Square was a mixed use complex project. My husband the real estate photographer wanted to go take a look. Once across the street we saw signs pointing the way to the Waterfront Wine and Art Festival. I was thrilled. It had been on my wish list, but I didn’t have a clue where there was a waterfront was in Scottsdale or Phoenix. Having happened upon it without a commitment to be anywhere at any particular time, we decided to check our the art festival.
Admission With and Without Wine
Following the signs we wandered around until we found the Waterfront. It cost only $3 a person to get in, if you didn’t want wine. Bill didn’t want wine. Had this been a girl’s trip, Deb and I would have ponied up the extra $10 for wine tasting, but I was happy enough to enjoy the art sans the tasting. What an entertainment bargain it proved to be!
This was a completely different show than the Celebration of Fine Art we attended a few days before. Like the Celebration, this was a juried show, but the jury for the Celebration was a lot tougher. Instead of a studio setting, this was more of a retail opportunity with lots of hopeful artisans lurking at the edge of their awning. In spite of the lurking artists, we enjoyed the visit.
Worth the Time
Most of the wine was on one side of the canal and most of the art was on the other. Shortly after we arrived we made our way to the artsy side. I will confess, while most of the pieces on display were interesting, they didn’t pass the I’d-hang-it-on-my-wall test. We don’t collect art. We can’t afford to. But often we stand in a gallery or at a festival longing to take something off the wall and carry it home with us. That happened a lot at the Celebration of Fine Art. Not so much at the Waterfront Wine and Art Festival.
Periodically, there would be musical acts or various things to eat or drink. We were still very full from our late morning breakfast buffet, so we weren’t interested in the comestibles, but the entertainment was appreciated. This violinist was among our favorites. Bill took many pictures trying to capture her pure enjoyment of her own music. This is as close as he got.
After a sojourn at the festival, it was time to satisfy another of Bill’s requests. Yes, we made a potty stop at McDonald’s and enjoyed a little hydration break, but that doesn’t count.
Bill wanted to see some desert scenery. There had been plenty at the golf course the day before, but he’d been otherwise occupied. I’d hoped to go to the Desert Botanical Garden, but by the time we were ready to see it, there wasn’t much of the day left, so we doubted we’d get our $15.00 worth. We opted for the McDowell Sonoran Desert Preserve. Come back next week and enjoy it with us!
Still going with the flow, I was ready to sacrifice the Phoenix Friday Art Walk (#phxfridays) for the sake of harmony, but Bill proved he was up for it. We changed into something more casual and headed for downtown Phoenix. By the time we arrived, things were going strong. The Phoenix Museum of Art seemed to be the epicenter of activity, but parking there was an impossibility, so we began to look for something else. We did find an office building that allowed us to park and it really wasn’t far from the museum, but we were like the only people parking there. Worse case scenario, it was a rent car and none of our belongings were in it, so if they stole it, fine!
Joining the Hordes
We discovered we were about a block from the museum, which meant we were soon part of the insanity of Art Walk. We noted most of the participants were decades younger than us, but we did not let that deter us from our opportunity for adventure. The museum, which has free admission on Fridays and was the focus of my attention, had ridiculous lines, so with little in the way of info, we hopped aboard one of the very full free trolleys and we were off into another world.
Both sides of the street were filled with revelers and the noise level was wild. Bill pulled me off the trolley and we tried to get our bearings, but it was sort of what I think an acid trip might be similar to. We were sharing the crowded sidewalk with people who didn’t look like us. Hair was in every shape and color, except what we might consider normal. Everyone was tattooed and pierced. They wore clothes I’d probably throw away if I found them in my closet. There was pushing and shoving in every direction, but there was no clear indication of which way one should head.
I did mention the noise, right? It was Bill who pointed out, that in the immediate area where we were standing, five different bands were vying for the crowd’s attention. While we were standing next to five bands, if we looked in any directions, we could see, not far down the sidewalk, crowds flowed around even more bands. The result, cacophony.
Just about that time, we both needed to visit restroom facilities and by some odd piece of luck we got into a nearby restaurant with minimal hassle. I think the doorman took pity on the senior citizens lost among the millennials. We took care of business and made our way out to the street, heading away from the five bands. We found a sort of alley with various booths set up along the way. The mob seemed less frenetic here and the noise of the various bands was tolerable. We began to stroll along.
Abandoning the Hordes
Though spread more thinly, the denizens of this art vendor alley were of the dread-locked, tattooed and pierced variety of the five band locale. While they looked scary to us, they did seem to be minding their own business, so we entertained ourselves by looking in on the booths. There were some artists selling their wares – nothing we’d hang on our walls, but interesting. The most readily available merchandise seemed to be CBD oil, plus everything and anything made out of hemp. Bill was sure he could smell “hemp”smoke wafting above the crowd.
After about a block, we ran out of booths and it began to look like an area senior citizens would not be welcome or safe, so we made a U-turn and visited the booths on the other side of the alley. When we returned to the sidewalk, a band made of pre-teenagers and their parents, had begun to play headbanger/punk rock (?) at a remarkable volume. Bill wondered what the best way back to the car was. I pointed to a landmark on the skyline and we decided to walk back, instead of trying to find another trolley.
We crossed the street and discovered,what had been an alley on the other side, turned into more of a street. On the street, vendors only took up one side, but they seemed to have pretty much the same merchandise as the previous guys. On the other side of the street was a series of restaurants with outdoor seating – only all patrons looked as if they belonged to biker gangs, so we weren’t at all tempted to sit down for a respite, even though sitting down for a drink sounded like the perfect thing to do.
We kept our eye on the red neon sign we’d recognized earlier and when the street made an abrupt left, we headed right through what seemed to be a park. The art you see on this page was displayed throughout the area and it is huge. After the park was the library. We could no longer see our landmark, but I had my bearings and continued that way.
Suddenly, we were back at the art museum and the lines had disappeared. Our visit was delayed, but I was going to get to take advantage of the free admission. Come back next week and enjoy the museum with us.
Black SUV’s whisked us from the Yacht Club to the Palace. That’s probably the last time I’ll be able to say something like that about my own travels, so perhaps it was worth the splurge. Since we weren’t actually VIP’s, they parked about a block away, near the Cathedral and we strolled over to the palace.
Visiting the Palace
Virtually anyone can make day visits the palace during the summer and fall, as long as it’s not Grand Prix weekend. However, the tourists are shuffled off at closing time. We had after-hours access, which means we went to the same places, just at a different time.
The Grimaldi’s were gracious hosts to us cruisers. We didn’t see any of them, but they gave us the run of the state apartments and provided some very nice young ladies to act as guides. The run of the state apartments did not include taking any pictures, so to see what we saw, you’d have to go to the website. My general impressions were the apartments showed a great amount of good taste, a good bit more than some of the gaudy displays of some state apartments. However, they were at the same time smaller than most I’ve seen before.
For Americans, this palace is almost a must-see, because evidence of our own American fairy tale, Princess Grace of Monaco, is in plain sight. Having just watched a Hallmarkish commoner-meets-and-marries-a-prince movie last night, I know we are still very much in love with the story of this lovely lady.
Before and after the tour we were welcome to take photos of the outside the palace. The red carpets and kneelers are not part of the every day look. They were setting up for some kind of religious ceremony and around the corner at the cathedral there was a lot of activity, so no telling what that was about.
All that was left was to get back into our SUV’s and travel back to the ship. Our day in Monte Carlo was over.
Grabbing a Show and Dinner and a Show
Back on the boat, Deb, Bill and I went to Hype with Marcus Terrell at the Theater. We weren’t much impressed. His greatest asset was volume, but he was surrounded with lots of energetic gyrating dancers. Nothing as fascinating as Hot Summer’s Night we’d seen a day or so ago.
After the show, it was time for dinner and all of us met for dinner in the Cosmopolitan. It was the same menu they had offered for their embarkation lunch. This is the weakness of their dining plan. Sure you have a variety of dining rooms, but once you’ve eaten in one, there’s no reason to go back. That’s probably because they are trying to encourage you to drop a few bucks in their specialty dining rooms, but with all we’d spent already, that wasn’t happening.
Our companions were ready for bed when the meal was over, but Bill and I wandered into the Club and saw an acrobatic show called Mirage. It had some good parts, but their tricks all began to look the same after awhile.
Still not ready to call it a night, I pulled the daily newsletter out of my purse and unfolded it. They had something called the Color the Night White Party happening on the Resort Deck, so we decided to check it out.
I don’t know about you, but I am just about done with the whole White Party thing. Isn’t it time to let that one die a natural death? The Edge was trying to jazz it up some, with a variety of colorful lights, but as you can see, it’s a pretty dead scene. I must not be the only one tired of White Parties.
I think if there had been anything else to do, we might have continued to wander, but it seemed the ship was rolling in its sidewalks – unless you wanted to sit in some bar and rack up some beverage billing, so off we went to bed.
The next day our stop was Cannes. Come back next week and I’ll share my favorite shore excursion with you.
So, on Friday, I begged you to go to the Dallas Art Fair. I hope you did. It certainly loomed large in our weekend. However, the Fair’s Opening Press Conference was actually Chapter Two. Chapter One played out on Wednesday evening. Come along and I’ll tell you all about it.
Out of the Loop
The Dallas Art Fair just had its 11th event and somehow I was completely out of the loop for the first 10. I’ve been busy, but I thought I was paying better attention than that.
However, I love me some Dallas and I take the drive over the I-30 Bridge quite frequently, usually headed down to the Dallas Arts District. My membership in the Dallas Museum of Art has never wavered. I keep my eye out for Nasher events. So, I’m not sure how I became so disconnected with an event like the Dallas Art Fair.
Back in the Loop
While I may not be as plugged in as I used to be, as a regional blogger, some organizations do keep me in the loop. The DMA, the Perot, Preservation Dallas and the Arboretum all have me on speed dial, figuratively speaking. So, when I got an email from the Cultural Counsel inviting me to an artsy thing in the Design District, it wasn’t exactly a surprise. I checked my calendar and then invited the hubby along.
Happy on All Counts
As principals of a real estate photography company, we are always interested in new construction and new developments. We arrived at River Bend eager to find out exactly what was going on in this new addition to the Dallas Design District. At first glance it was comparable to other business/retail spaces all over the Metroplex. The invitation had mentioned “Late Night Gallery Openings, Clare Woods Book Signing, and SOLUNA Performance.” Galleries we understood, but the rest had to be discovered.
The invitation had not mentioned comestibles at all, but a happy Art Fair associate greeted us and pointed us towards the serving lines. Gladly the choices were not limited to cheese cubes and bad chardonnay. Bill tried a local brewery offering from a series of kegs (I’m dieting again, so I was going to wait for the promised mineral water) and then we headed to the buffet line. Caterers were whipping out chicken and pork street tacos, shrimp tostadas and corn-on-the-cob. I loved it all, but that probably had a lot to do with the avocado crema. Bill wasn’t as crazy about the entrees. He doesn’t do avocado and I’m guessing the other offerings were a poor substitute, but he loved the corn. I’d recommend the caterers, but I never found out who they were.
Next stop was a door with a large sign advertising Soluna, the musical portion of Dallas’s Art Month, sponsored by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. I was there to get a bottle of Topo Chico Mineral Water. The space was devoted to the evening’s audio entertainment, an “Icelandic musician” with “signature trolls”. The music wafted out of the performance space and I could tell it was a little out there for me. Bill ducked his head in and his main complaint was the overuse of volume.
Continuing down the way we visited a couple of gallery spaces. One only had a few pieces and the other seemed more actively devoted to the consumption of Modelo than the presentation of art. It was time to head back in the other direction and see what we could find.
On our way back to the center of things, we focused on the ceramic murals of the exterior walls. A book signing by the murals’ artist was part of the evening’s offerings. Bill wasn’t fond of the mosaics, but I was more pleasantly effected by the thematic river vistas. Returning past the trolls, we happened upon some more gallery space and these spaces seemed to be more serious about the art portion of the event.
Our final stop was the 214 space, which serves as a gallery and as the offices for the Dallas Art Fair. Well-fed and having consumed as much as we could understand concerning the art offerings, we headed home. The next morning, I’d learn more about what I’d been looking at.
A Few Observations
I would be the first to admit that my taste in art leans toward the figurative and peters out some time shortly after the Impressionists. I find many things to like about contemporary artists who continue the figurative and classical traditions in art, however I have not given up completely on the non-figurative and alternate genres. I’m still trying, even if I don’t find myself enchanted. So, I’m not a good person to critique the art we saw that evening.
The people watching was spectacular. I was happy to observe jeans and yoga pants were not the dominating fashion statement. In fact, the gentlemen, rather than the ladies, were setting the bar. Socks were so last century for these guys and all the pants were tight and short.
Winning the award for tightest and shortest were those who wore cuffed pedal pushers. I have no idea of the proper name for these short trousers. We ladies used to call them capri pants, back in the day. But trend-setting short pants weren’t all I noticed. The top halves of these guys were also trendy. Those with longer pants had a sort of khaki/safari vibe to them. My favorite item on the men was a white straw trilby with a florescent orange band.
The women just did not measure up. They seemed more interested in volume than style, like a pair of harem pants in a loud plaid. Other versions of comfort were apparent. The crispest female fashion icon was a sweet young thing in black leather short shorts. Her long legs were shod in high-heeled platforms with an interesting collection of straps. Her other clothing and accessories were black and gold. Her hair was a slick black bob. Kudos to her for appearing to care whether anyone looked at her or not. The rest of the women certainly didn’t indicate whether they cared one way or the other.
Wednesday, we’ll head back to Cancun, then Friday I’ll chat about the press conference. Come back to visit!
It had been a very long day and there was still some left as the bus headed back to Cancun.
The Joy of a Good Book
I had read it before, but even so, I had chosen James Michener’s book Mexico, as my reading material for the trip. Unlike many of his novels, which begin even before the appearance of man in a locale, this novel focused on a modern day journalist covering a bullfight festival, who was at the same time Mexican, American, Mayan and Spanish. The book does look back at the ancient residents of the country, but instead of choosing an actual tribe, such as the Mayans, Toltecs, Aztecs or Olmecs to showcase, Michener made up a sort of conglomerate tribe called the Altomecs, allowing him to comment on them all.
So many years had passed since my last reading of the book that it seemed fresh. Occasional scenes gave me a sense of deja vu, but I was still following the plot with interest, unsure how it would end. (I still haven’t finished it as I write this post, but the more I read the more I remember, and I have recalled the end.) On the bus ride back to the Seadust, I was only a third of the way through and the Altomecs had not even entered the narrative, except a brief mention from time to time of the pyramid which was near the primary locale of the story.
It had been a long day and several times I caught myself dozing off. At one point, I woke from a dream to discover it was pitch black outside. I had been asleep for quite a while. In my dream I was back at Chichen Itza. I was among the crowds watching the sacrifices, but somehow I was doing so as a character from Michener’s book and at the same time, I was privy to all the knowledge I had accumulated in my actual lifetime. I stood on the plaza remembering scholarly data about the Mayan civilization, our own lifestyle in America and the many other civilizations I have studied and observed.
When I woke up it took a few moments to figure out exactly where I was. I soon noticed the guides were fiddling around with the technology. TV screens folded up and down as if on their own and the guides huddled over a remote control. I suspected something was up, but they still managed to surprise me with their tequila service.
The interior lights of the bus flashed on as a rather loud rendition of the song “Tequila” played on the loudspeaker. A man in a strange costume, his face covered with a stocking mask was standing in the aisle. Though I was pretty sure it was supposed to be entertainment, a part of me was still under the influence of my strange dream. It wasn’t exactly a pleasant experience, but I understand they intended it to be.
Bill had a little tequila, but I had no interest. My stomach was ready for its next meal and had no interest in alcohol. We were soon back to Cancun and we were fortunate enough to be the second stop. Unfortunately, the first stop was the Iberostar which had refused Bill entrance the previous day. Before the night was over, I was also wishing we could visit the Iberostar! Come back next week and find out why!
Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, it did!
Back to Elegant Dining
I’d been disappointed by the over-hyped Taste of Austria dinner. Visually, it had been lovely, but the culinary experience couldn’t beat what we’d already been enjoying. Quality not quantity is my interest.
After my trot around Linz, we scurried back to the boat and I jumped into my evening attire. This was the penultimate evening of the cruise and the captain was throwing a cocktail party. That included a toast, which meant champagne would be served. So I was janie-on-the spot in the lounge. I didn’t want to miss any champagne. The captain didn’t try to labor through another bout of English, thankfully. Instead our cruise director translated for him.
After the toast, the lederhosen, dirndls and oom-pah-pah were gone from the dining room- much to our relief. We waxed nostalgic about our service throughout the evening as if we’d been living on the boat for years, instead of a matter of days. The Viking Daily had promised Mozart and the Sound of Music as our evenings entertainment and we wondered how that mixture would pan out.
A Salzburgian Romp
A troupe of singers appeared and offered a few tunes. Their voices were wonderful and they wore authentic period costumes. The evening started out very high-brow and then they began the audience participation part of the performance. I was not surprised in the least that they chose Bill. They always choose Bill. I’m beginning to think he must be offering bribes. Anyway, here’s a few photos from his appearance.
That was fun, but the next part was even more wonderful. They switched from classical to a classic, The Sound of Music. I can’t say I was actually yearning for tunes from the Julie Andrews movie, but as soon as the first few bars of intro wafted through the lounge, I had tears in my eyes. The singers merely zipped through the soundtrack, hitting the high points, which was lovely, but I secretly wanted more. I wanted to be reminded of every frame of the movie and especially Edelweiss, which is on my personal top 10 (along with Leon Russell’s Stranger in a Strange Land, Beethoven’s Ode to Joy and Gordon Lightfoot’s Rainy Day People.) I’ve never streamed a movie to my phone, but it did cross my mind that evening.
The performers were real characters. They were hamming it up with all the guests, so Bill wasn’t the only one to garner their attention. He’s just the only one who entered the spotlight. After the performers left, the tempo got much faster and the girls hit the dance floor. I have a few more photos to share below.
The boat didn’t head towards our next destination until 10:30 and I’d entertained thoughts of taking another stroll onshore, but it didn’t happen. If you let them, Viking will fill every moment of your day and that’s what happened on this particular day, except for the visit to the Mariendom.
Next up is Passau, Germany. Come back next week and visit this lovely little town at the confluence of rivers.
TRAVEL THERE: NOT EXACTLY WHAT I WANTED IN BRATISLAVA
Bratislava is a lovely little town with the oldest surviving town gate in Continental Europe. However, I ran into several complications in my efforts to enjoy this stop on our cruise. The video includes the highlights of the shore excursion and I’ll tell you about my difficulties behind the scenes.
The Walking Tour That Wasn’t the Walking Tour
I had carefully studied the available shore excursions back in Dallas and after a careful examination, decided the Bratislava Walking Tour was superior to the Bratislava City Tour. Both involved walking around the Old City, but one included a bus trip to what I call Faux Castle.
See there once was a real castle up on Castle Hill. However, it was nothing but a ruin when the Communists showed up. They decided they needed to replace the castle, but all they did was build a modern building and call it a castle. I had no desire to see their modern day monstrosity.
However, when I showed up on the dock, we were ushered to a bus and I got the distinct feeling I wasn’t going to be happy about it. In Viking’s defense, I didn’t say anything to anybody once I feared I was on the wrong tour. I guess the jet lag or something had finally hit me, because I wasn’t feeling completely up to par and I just didn’t have the desire to rock the boat – or the bus. My bad.
The bus took us up Castle Hill and dumped us out at the Faux Castle for an orgy of picture taking. The scenery was great, but there’s nothing that makes you feel more like a tourist than being dumped off for a photo opportunity when you don’t really understand why you are there in the first place. The guide never even pretended the castle had any historical or architectural significance. She just said we had ten minutes to take pictures and abandoned us.
On cue, we filed back on the bus after taking our photos and rode down the hill. Then we went on a walking tour which was somewhat interesting, but not compelling. That might have been because the grumblings in my stomach were getting most of my attention, but I was also wondering how the tour sans the Faux Castle would have differed. My new friends assured me they had a great time on the real walking tour, but since Deb was the sort to have fun whatever she was doing, I don’t know if she can be trusted.
Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda
Andrew Petcher (a fellow travel blogger I highly recommend), suggested free-style wandering was the best way to see the town, but with Mr. Bill in tow, free-style can be problematic. I think Andrew was probably right. With my Rick Steves’ tour book in hand and no tour guide to keep up with, I think I would have thoroughly enjoyed the capital of Slovakia. The architecture was charming and the quirky sculpture sprinkled throughout the town made for some great snickering.
I think it would be a great place to spend a quiet weekend, but it’s a little far from Dallas for me to check out that theory. My greatest regret was not getting to the UFO Restaurant atop a bridge, another gift of the Communists. After the walking tour we were given some free time, but by then I desperately needed a little private time in my cabin.
A Slovakian Evening
By 6:45 I had gotten myself back into cruise mode and was front and center for the Daily Briefing. We had dinner with our cruise buddies and then made our way back to Lounge for “A Slovakian Evening.”
The entertainment was delightful. Those great big ocean liners can provide productions to rival Broadway and Hollywood, but you have to share them with your 3000 new friends. I’m sort of over that. I much preferred the intimate setting of the Lounge, where we gathered comfortably with 178 (give or take a few) other passengers. The show was marvelous. In fact, after some expensive entertainment in Vienna, our friends told us the onboard entertainment had much better performers than the Viennese show. We thoroughly enjoyed the Slovakian Evening, because the songs were familiar, the costumes were beautiful and performers were gifted.
Below I have included some photos of the entertainment. I hope you’ll come back next week for Vienna – the highlight of the cruise.
So, a couple of weeks ago I gave you a little background information. I explained how Bill and I are a couple of city slickers, living out in the country. While honky-tonking is not completely foreign to me, it is to Bill. Still, at the suggestion of my bestie, we visited Southern Junction in Royse City. Here’s how it went.
City Slickers at a Honky Tonk
Since Bill & I both work at home, we probably spend more time together than most couples, but we still love to go out together, whether that’s shopping at Costco or a fancy dinner. Going to Southern Junction qualified as an official date. We planned ahead for it, got all dressed up and planned on having a great evening. Bill even drove the Mercedes. First mistake! Well, maybe the first mistake was getting all dressed up, but driving Bill’s precious Mercedes onto a rock-covered parking lot was definitely a mistake.
Now please understand, we were well aware that many of those pick-ups cost a lot more than the Mercedes, but they were pick-up trucks. Kicking up gravel is part of what pick-up trucks were made for. That’s not the case for the Mercedes. In fact, sedans and coupes of any sort were definitely in the minority as we waited in the car for Deb and Joe to show up. Waiting until they got there was a good thing, because if we’d walked in by ourselves, I might not have gotten Bill past the vestibule.
On the outside, Southern Junction is a huge mustard colored metal building with some stringed lights affixed to the front portion, set amid a very large gravel parking lot. As we waited inside the car, we recognized we weren’t dressed like everyone else. Bill had on a pair of jeans and a shirt, just like the rest of the guys, but the shirt was a designer number I picked up last time I’d been shopping and instead of worn boots, Bill had on a fairly new pair of lace up oxfords. Neither of us had on a hat or a down vest. Hand-tooled belts? Nope, not that either. For my part, I don’t own any cowboy boots and I wouldn’t be caught dead in a pair of shorts cut up to …
When Deb and Joe arrived, we walked out of the parking lot into a large room with ticket windows. Everything was bare and wooden. No frills. I mean NO FRILLS! Deb waltzed up to the window and handed them her drivers license. She knew the drill. The rest of us had to get our memberships, because Royce City is dry.
If you’ve ever been to a honky tonk then you know exactly what was inside. A huge dance floor with a mirrored ball, a stage for the band, a bar, pool tables and lots of formica-covered restaurant tables with economy chairs arranged into long rows. The band wasn’t playing yet and Deb’s friend was nowhere to be found. A pair of hostesses looked like they were dying to tell us we’d arrived at the wrong place. Bill said it reminded him of Billy Bob’s and I chuckled to myself. It didn’t remind me of Billy Bob’s at all. This was the real thing or as close as I’d been in a long time.
After the hostess asked whether or not we had reservations, she sat us at an out-of-the-way table, like she was embarrassed for us. Because we’d asked after Kevin, she claimed it was where people sat when they were with the band, but we had our doubts. Kevin’s lady still hadn’t shown up, so we went ahead and ordered dinner. Deb had falsely advertised 2-for-one steak dinners, but that had been the night before. It was all-you-can-eat night, not my favorite thing in the world, because I can eat a whole lot more than I should. My ribs were great. Bill didn’t enjoy his as much.
I was having a good time. These weren’t exactly my kind of folk, but they were enjoying themselves and Texas Drive was making marvelous music. Some of the dancers really knew their way around a dance floor and I was fascinated by the line dancing. Each song had it’s own routine and somehow everyone one knew which one to do. Before the band came on there were Two Step Lessons (fast, fast, sloow, sloow was the background noise for our meal) and during the break there were Line Dancing Lessons.
Bill’s evening was not going quite as well. As I mentioned, this was not Billy Bob’s. He’s not very fond of all-you-can-eat either, especially when they deliver your food before they provide utensils to eat it with. He didn’t like his ribs and the potato was cold, but he was also piqued that no one offered him second helpings. Not that he wanted any, but since it was all-you-can-eat, they should have asked. When they delivered his credit card slip for a signature, they failed to bring a pen. Fast-fast-sloow-sloow nearly drove him to distraction and while I thought most of the dancers were pretty good, Bill would have preferred to be home watching Dancing with the Stars. Neither of us liked the cigarette smoke. He kept waving his empty beer bottle at me, but he didn’t want another. He wanted to go home.
So, do I think you should go to Southern Junction? Well, if you like honky-tonking – absolutely. Otherwise, probably not. On the other hand, Texas Drive, the band we went to see, is a great band and if they’re playing at Southern Junction, then it may be worth the trip to Royce City.
TRAVEL HERE: WHAT TO DO IN DALLAS FOR THE HOLIDAYS
For folks dripping in family, the holidays become a blur of Christmas recitals and family dinners. For those of us with slimmer pickings in the family department, the holidays can make us feel a little left out. Well, if you live in or around Dallas, there is no need to feel left out. Dallas can keep you busier than a month of Christmases. In a recent email from Stefanie Faulk of the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau I found an amazing list of things to do. Find something that suits your fancy and get out there:
Special Exhibitions and Christmas Displays
Dallas Art District and Downtown
Dallas Museum of Art (Now through May 20) Jackson Pollock: Blind Spots – This once-in-a-lifetime exhibition, only the third major U.S. museum exhibition to focus solely on the artist hailed as “the greatest painter this country has ever produced,” is the largest survey of Jackson Pollock’s black paintings ever assembled. Exclusively on view in Dallas, it includes works that have not been exhibited for more than 50 years from an understudied yet pivotal period in the artist’s career. ALSO International
– This unprecedented exhibition, which critics have called “stunning,” showcases more than 50 historically important masterworks from the Keir Collection of Islamic Art, one of the world’s most significant and rarely exhibited private collections of Islamic art.
Meadows Museum (Now – January 3) Treasures from the House of Alba: 500 Years of Art and Collecting – For more than 500 years, the Alba family has formed part of the most important aristocratic lineages in Europe, amassing an unparalleled collection of art through the years. In this exhibit, the Meadows
Museum presents some of the collection’s finest works, many of which have never been seen outside
of the family’s private castles.
Holiday Cheer at Reunion Tower’s GeO-Deck (Now – December 21) – Santa, his elves and furry friends from the Dallas Zoo will spread holiday cheer from 470 feet in the air. Catch special sky-high appearances at the GeO-Deck as you enjoy the view from Dallas’ most iconic structure. Experience breathtaking 360-degree panoramic views, high-definition zoom cameras, interactive touch screens, telescopes, photo ops and an indoor/outdoor observation deck that lets you see for miles in any direction.
Downtown Wanderland (All Season Long) – Downtown Dallas, Inc. invites visitors and locals to wander through bright and bustling Downtown Dallas and explore the city’s great retail, restaurants and bars. Enjoy season-long programming featuring holiday pop-up shops, happy hours, photos with Santa, movie screenings and more.
– Celebrate the most wonderful time of the year with the magnificent 12 Days of Christmas outdoor exhibit – twelve 25-foot Victorian-style gazebos with charming costumed characters, music and more – and The Artistry of the Nativity at the historic DeGolyer House. And enjoy a stroll through the gardens on select evenings, aglow with half a million twinkling lights.
George W. Bush Presidential Center (Now – January 3) A Season of Stories: Christmas at the White House 2003 – Great stories have a way of bringing families together. A Season of Stories will offer visitors a glimpse into the magical White House celebrations of 2003, including a full-size reproduction of the official White House Christmas tree and delightful décor featuring beloved storybook characters.
NorthPark Center (Now – January 3) The Trains at NorthPark – benefiting the Ronald McDonald House of Dallas is the most elaborate miniature toy trains exhibit in Texas. More than 1,600 feet of track takes visitors on a journey across America, from New York City to the Golden Gate Bridge. Also Visits and Portraits with Santa – Capture memories of a lifetime with one-on-one visits and portraits with Santa Claus. Children feel right at home in Santa’s cozy living room, complete with a fireplace and holiday tree. Take photos with your own camera or purchase professional portraits by Marc Robins Photography!
On the West Side
Christmas at the Anatole (Now – December 23) This holiday season the legendary Hilton Anatole Hotel will transform in to a winter wonderland complete with dazzling décor and festive programming. Featuring
breakfast with Santa, face painting, Christmas-themed scavenger hunts and more, the Hilton Anatole is your home for the holidays.
TRAVEL HERE: LOUISE MANDRELL PERFORMS FOR GLOBAL HEART MINISTRIES
The corner of Plano Parkway and Custer Road is quite symbolic in my mind. On one corner sits IILM, an Islamic learning center. Across the street is The Hope Center, an edifice devoted to Christian ministries. I’d thought for a long time how ironic it was that the buildings stared one another down on a daily basis. To go to The Hope Center the day after the Paris massacre was quite poignant.
Let’s start with Louise. There was a time when Barbara Mandrell was the biggest thing in music – not just country music, music. Her little sister, Louise is a powerhouse talent on her own and if there had not been the Barbara phenomena, who knows how well-known the little sister would have been in her own right. Unfortunately, the Mandrell name suffered a scandal (an undeserved scandal, I might add) and after the facts of the matter came out, the public had already moved on.
Being the apple of the public’s eye is not always everything it’s supposed to be. Louise has continued to be a successful performer and has a very loyal following. I saw her back in 1999 in her own theater in Branson. Today, she devotes most of her time to charities and causes she cares about. She is a loyal patriot and a strong Christian. When Global Hearts Ministry invited her to come perform for a fundraising event, she was thrilled to come.
Global Hearts Ministry
Last week on my Faith Talk blog, I talked about Global Heart Ministries and the circuitous route I traveled to find out about them. Long story short, Global Hearts Ministry creates Christian TV programming in native languages for Central Asian countries – nations dominated by radical Islam, the very brand of terrorism that just attacked Paris. Because we support the ministry, we were invited to their event and as circumstances would have it, the event ended up being on the evening right after the Paris massacres.
I go into it in greater detail over on Faith Talk, but Global Hearts offers the only real antidote to radical Islam – Jesus Christ. They are taking the antidote right to the crux of the problem – Central Asia. If you really want to make a difference in the War on Terrorism, I suggest you check them out.
The program was wonderful and I learned a lot about the ministry, which you can read about over on Faith Talk. Louise Mandrell was not the only celebrity in the room. I actually got to meet June Hunt, who sat at my table – or perhaps I should say I was privileged to sit at hers. Also on hand were the stars of the shows produced by Global Hearts Ministries. If I named them here, you wouldn’t recognize their names or their faces, but if you lived in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, Iran or Afghanistan, their names and faces are as ubiquitous as Ellen and their shows are just as popular.
Back to Louise
At the end of the program we were treated to a mini-concert by Ms. Mandrell and she packed a whale of a show into her short performance. She sang some great songs, regaled us with both inspiring and humorous stories of the Mandrell family and finished off with a little fiddling. In our swag bag, we found the autographed picture above, along with some other treats. It was a great night for a great cause.
Here’s some shots Bill got during her performance. I hope you enjoy them and I hope you’ll be back soon to see what other exciting things I’ve been up to.