AT HOME IN HEATH: DALLAS KEEPS LURING ME ACROSS THE LAKE
I may have moved across the lake from my hometown, but I’m still very much the Dallasite. I recently got an email blast from Stephanie Faulk (email@example.com) Public Relations /Outreach Manager for the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau. The correspondence spelled out some of my favorite things to do around Dallas. Allow me to share a few.
You had me at Fletcher’s Corny Dogs! I have always loved the fair. I go every year. My husband is not as fascinated with it as I am, so it’s a good thing my bestie is. We make a day of it.
First order of business is a corny dog – then I repeat whenever the opportunity presents itself. That means I don’t eat much else. The fair is famous for fried things, but I don’t want to waste my calories. I know I’m not going to like anything as much as I do the corny dogs and I have to get enough of them to last me all year.
Part of my love for the fair is nostalgia. I go through each building as if it were required by some divinely assigned task. I look at the new cars, test drive recliners, listen to pitches for gadgets, gawk at handicrafts, admire photographs, smell livestock, listen to music, sample goodies, walk down the Midway and sometimes even ride something.
Fair day is one of my favorite days of the whole year. Don’t miss your fair day!
I may go to the fair one day every year, but I go to the Arboretum much more frequently. Not as often as I’d like, but that’s life. I’ve been during the best days of Autumn in the Arboretum and Blooms, but I’also been there on chilly days in February. I don’t think there is a bad day to visit the arboretum. Even if it is pouring rain there’s a tram to deliver you to the DeGolyer House for a tour.
Ms. Faulk reported that folks voted Autumn at the Arboretum one of “America’s Best Pumpkin Festivals” in Fodor’s Travel 2014. With more the 75000 pumpkins dressing the garden up for fall, who can blame them. Kids of all ages love to see the spectacular fall display and gorgeous gardens. Put it on your calendar.
I’m ashamed to admit how infrequently I visit the Meadows Museum on the SMU campus. With so many attractions and events to distract me it’s not hard to understand why the quiet little Spanish Museum gets forgotten. However, the museum itself is a wonder of architecture with its grand staircase and the works of art it holds are gorgeous.
If like me you’ve been neglecting the Meadows, now is the time to rectify that. One hundred and thirty works from three spectacular palaces will be on hand, including works by Van Gogh, Goya and Renoir – to name just a few. This will be the first time this private collection will be leaving Spain. What a marvelous opportunity to see these masterworks of decorative arts and painting.
Other Exciting Opportunities
These wonderful events barely scratch the surface of things to do this fall in Dallas. A survey of Jackson Pollack‘s works will be at the Dallas Museum of Art beginning in November and staying through March. And speaking of modern art, on October 16, downtown Dallas will be turned into a wonderland of light, video, sound, performance and projection by some of the world’s best contemporary interactive artists in an extravaganza called Aurora. Following this man-made light show, the Perot Museum will be showing off some of Mother Natures most amazing creations in Creatures of Light: Natures Bioluminescence.
If Dallas is your hometown, please take advantage of these wonderful opportunities. If you don’t live here, then it’s time for you to come visit.
TRAVEL HERE: CULPEPPER’S HOSTS FRANK MARTIN GILLIGAN & JOE GAVITO
It started earlier in the week on Facebook of all places. I have a cousin down Houston way who is heavily into their music scene. If Gene Alton likes a band, then it’s a good band. He posted a video that I don’t even think I watched, but I noticed one of the comments was from Joe Gavito.
Who in the world is Joe Gavito?
Now Joe Gavito probably isn’t a household name where you live, but he features large in one of my childhood memories. I moved to Dallas in 1966 at the age of eleven. Back then I had no idea I was going to love Dallas as much as I do. I was pretty partial to Augusta, GA which had been my previous home. I can tell you this, Mapquest says there’s about 930 miles between Dallas and Augusta, but when you’re eleven years old, it’s more like 930 galaxies.
See, I was the cat’s meow at T.Harry Garrett Elementary School. My friends were Grayson Bailey, Caroline Swink, Patty Harrison, Margie Ann Bowers, Donna Rice and Martha Bowling. None of us liked Judy Moody, because she had a mean streak, but we all harbored crushes on her brother Tommy and that new guy, Paul, who had moved in at the end of the street.
We lived in the right neighborhood and attended the right church. I even took ballet from the right ballet school, piano from the right teacher and belonged to the right scout group. My dad had the right kind of job and we owned season tickets to The Masters. Life was good. I was about to enter sixth grade and I’m sure that along with my peers on Persimmon Road, I would have put on my white gloves and attended the right social dancing classes.
In Dallas I was nobody. We lived in a rent house in a modest East Dallas neighborhood and were still looking for a church. There was no ballet or scouts and my piano teacher was not remarkable in anyway. Dad still had the same job, but it didn’t carry the same cachet in Dallas and he’d forfeited his season tickets. And social dancing? HA!
I didn’t look like my Dallas peers either. When we got word my dad was transferring, Mom had already purchased my wardrobe for the school year. My wool plaid skirts, knee socks and penny loafers were all the rage over in Augusta, but Dallas had moved on to mini-dresses, fishnet hose and kitten heels – in sixth grade. No one in Georgia would have dreamed of heels until they were in their teens!
I suffered through my sixth grade year and dreamed of social dancing classes in Augusta. I wondered who had been lucky enough to be Tommy Moody’s partner and if there was any chance it would have been me if we’d stayed there. (Probably not, since over the summer I’d shot up at least a head over everyone in my class, especially Tommy Moody.)
Then came the invitation to Cynthia Rodger’s birthday party – Cynthia of the long blonde hair, mini-dresses, fish-net hose and kitten heels. Now I can imagine a conversation in which Cynthia’s mother told her that if she was inviting the rest of her class to the party that funny girl from Georgia would also have to be invited, but I was too unsophisticated in those days to even think of that. Instead I was over the moon. I was going to Cynthia Rodger’s birthday party!
I remember very little from the party, except for Joe Gavito. This suggests that I probably did not have the rapturous time I had hoped to have at the soiree, but it’s still a party I can’t forget. We were kids. Eleven-year-olds. I still had a hard time chewing gum and walking. Joe Gavito sat down at a drum set and played Wipeout. It was the coolest thing I had seen up to that point – and I’ve never forgotten it.
Nearly five decades had passed when I saw Joe Gavito’s name in my Facebook feed, but something prompted me to ask if he happened to be the Joe Gavito who attended sixth grade at MT Reilly. Lo and behold, he was. He even remembered the awful cat’s eye glasses that I wore – something else that had been just the thing in Augusta and absolutely the worst thing in Dallas. What’s more he was still in the music scene AND he had a gig around the corner from me on Friday night. Talk about coincidences!
I decided right then and there, in honor of the magic Joe created so long ago, I was going to hear him on Friday night. My husband reluctantly agreed to go, with the same excitement one might expect if I’d asked him to join me for dinner with my college sweetheart. My best friend agreed to go, because she always agrees to do whatever I want to. I extended the same invitation to several others and ended up with about seven interested couples. Before the end of the week, two couples had conflicts and my bestie’s husband got sick, but we still had a table-ful.
The official name of the act is Frank Martin Gilligan. He’s a singer/songwriter in the country/western vein and Joe plays backup. I didn’t know what to expect. I was just in it for the fun.
Frank started off with a few cover songs and then moved into his own music. The cover songs were good. His songs were great. He’d sound good singing pretty much anything, as he demonstrated by singing both Willie Nelson songs and a hit from Les Miserables. When he added his own amazing lyrics to the sound, it was rapturous. I hate to sound like a groupie, but my best friend studied opera and she agreed on both counts.
We planned to stay for one set. We stayed for two and Deb was still there when we left. Between sets I chatted with Joe. That’s when I found out that Frank Martin Gilligan had been the moving force behind Mason Dixon. I remembered Mason Dixon! Frank dropped out of the music scene to raise his family, but that task being done he’s returned to his first love – and that’s a good thing for you and me. Joe says that thanks to the internet, the new CD, Silver Dollar, is enjoying some success through online downloads for the media. In fact, Frank got a call from a DJ in Australia that wanted him to know how much they were loving his music Down Under.
The title song “Silver Dollar” is a ballad about the path an 1890’s Silver Dollar might have gone, in it’s journey to a friend’s pocket. I loved this feel-good song about the history of our great nation, but it wasn’t the only selection he played from his disc. I caught tears in the eyes of my companions during “I Remember Who She Is”. See if you can listen to it without crying. The CD is one great hit after another. You’ll love it.
One more thing. Joe Gavito was not playing drums. He’s moved on to the guitar. (In fact, the more I think about it, he was probably playing drums at the party I remember so well. Memories blur over time.) He juggles between two instruments as he accompanies Frank and he’s great on both of them, but one was a very small guitar from Tacoma that he says is called a traveling guitar. Whatever it’s called, it sounds like a mandolin and Joe is a maestro at picking on it.
Though I didn’t have time to tell you about it, I did manage to have some fun while I was missing in action. Here’s a sample.
Kaleidoscope of Homes Viridian in Irving (Oct 12) – It’s no surprise that we’re in the midst of building a home, so a tour of homes was right up our alley. We were thinking it would be more like the Dream Home events that used to be held in Plano and Frisco. Not quite on that scale, but it did firm up some of the ideas we were contemplating for our house. If you like decorating, then this might be a good event for you to plan to take in next year.
Driven by Design, Museum Tower (Oct 23) – Thank you Cadillac and Architectural Digest for inviting us to this spectacular event. We joined other Cadillac fans for brunch at the top of Museum Tower. What a spectacular sight! After a tour of one of the homes inside the Tower, we were ushered into a fleet of Cadillac Escalades to see several other amazing edifices. What’s even better is that rather than merely being chauffeured around, everyone got the chance to drive the amazing machines!
The homes we saw were out of this world and the architects who designed them were on hand to show us around and answer our questions. Then, back at Museum Tower, we were served a delicious snack buffet and given wonderful swag. Not just samples, coupons and candy, like I’ve gotten at another vehicle manufacturer’s events (I won’t name any names but their initials are MB), but a unique gift box that I love filled with back issues of Architectural Digest and a beautiful coffee table book from Cadillac. We’re sure glad someone put us on that guest list!
The Dallas Opera (The Marriage of Figaro Oct 26) – So it was my bestie’s birthday and my bestie loves opera. Last year we also went to the opera, but we sat in the nosebleed section, because I waited too late to order the tickets. This year I scored Terrace Right and we loved it.
I have a bit of a confession to make about my bestie. She studied opera at SMU, so she’s a bit picky about performances. This year everything was so perfect, from the sets to the voices, that she had nary a complaint.
Still to come this season are a pair of operas that I know nothing about (La Wally and Everest), but the ever popular La Boheme comes in March. In April, look for Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta. The Dallas Opera has been my favorite ticket for a long time and continues to be so. I’m always amazed how many people don’t realize that they are one of the absolute best opera companies in the world. Go see what I’m talking about!
The Dallas Museum of Art (Bouquets) – To my everlasting regret, I missed the Partners Preview for Bouquets on October 24. Finding the unanswered invitation on my desk about a week after the event is all the evidence I need to prove to you that I’ve been way too busy.
Though I didn’t get to the preview, I did make it to the museum to see the exhibit. What words would be adequate to describe it? Beautiful still life paintings of elaborate floral displays in gorgeous ornate frames. Each offering was a riot of rich colors painted by the delicate hand of master. Still, I’m not doing it justice. You absolutely MUST go to this exhibit. It is truly one of the most beautiful collections of paintings I’ve seen in one place since I visited the Musee d’Orsay in Paris. Please go before it closes. It will be here through February 8, 2015.
The Bald Soprano at UD’s Margaret Jonsson Theater (Nov 5) – Talk about going from the sublime to the ridiculous. Bouquets is one of the most amazing exhibits I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing. The Bald Soprano was also amazing, but on the opposite side of the amazement scale.
OK, so it says right on the program that this is an “anti-play”, so I knew it was going to be a little out of the ordinary. I can enjoy a good farse as well as the next girl. Opera is rife with farses. The Bald Soprano is beyond farse.
Still for most of the play, I was having a good time. It was silly and it didn’t make much sense, but the world is a lot like that this day and time. Then we got to what the audience thought was the end of the play and so we offered an appropriate measure of applause. Unfortunately, the play continued for another half hour or so and it wasn’t nearly as much fun as it had been before. The final applause was a little more tepid than the previous response. Afterwards folks wandered to their car wondering exactly what had just happened to them.
I do want to say this. In spite of the fact that we didn’t particularly enjoy this play, I want to give credit where credit is due. The problem was not the actors or their acting. The sets and costuming were good. The problem was the play. We eagerly await our invitation to the next offering by University of Dallas, because we’ve enjoyed several of their productions. This just wasn’t our cup of tea.
There’s more fun to come! Check back next week for Part Duex!
TRAVEL HERE: DALLAS AREA UNIVERSITIES OFFER A WEALTH OF ENTERTAINMENT
In an area like the DFW Metroplex, with so many voices calling for our attention, it’s easy to forget our schools offer many entertainment opportunities. What’s more, tickets for their productions cost only a fraction of what the pros want us to pay.
Sports are an obvious example. The worst seat at a college game will put you a lot closer to the action than the nosebleed section of any pro arena, yet you’re going to pay a lot less. In some cities, that might mean tickets to a Podunkville game, but here that means top ranked teams like SMU and TCU – and the sports range from men’s football to women’s volleyball and everything in between.
But sports are just the beginning. What’s your interest? I assure you, at least one school in town is devoted to producing graduates in that area of study. You like Jazz? Check out UNT. Chess? See UTD. And that’s just a couple of examples.
Many of our schools have significant collections, exhibitions, libraries and museums. Ever heard of the Meadows Museum? It’s a spectacular museum of Spanish Art, right on the SMU campus. Remember the Dead Sea Scrolls Exhibition a few years ago? Southwest Seminary in Fort Worth was the host. Did you know TCU had the Monnig Meterorite Gallery on it’s campus? I didn’t either, until I googled TCU and poked around a little.
Would you like to learn more about anything, but don’t want to sign up for classes. Then how about attending lectures from time to time. I know SMU has an amazing lecture series, just from hearing advertisements of very famous people who will speak. More interested in spiritual subjects, then check out Dallas Theological Seminary. Lecture series are an integral part of most universities.
Singing, Dancing and Such
Any school with a fine arts department will have frequent exhibitions of the students’ creations. I’m a graduate of UTD and if you click here, you can sign up for the Arts and Humanities mailing list to be notified of the exhibitions, poetry readings, concerts and more. With a little clicking around, you could find the same thing at pretty much any university.
My husband and I enjoy these opportunities – when we remember to utilize them. Thankfully, both UD and UTD, our alma maters, do a great job of reminding us to come see them.
As we headed back to the Norwegian Epic after our disappointing shore excursion, St Maarten gave us its final salute. Rain poured from the sky. A short afternoon rain, so common in the tropics, but all I could think of was, “par for the course.” Deb and Joe got soaked to the skin. Bill made a dash for it and stayed pretty dry. My very large sunhat took pretty good care of me.
Food is First
We grabbed lunch in The Garden Cafe, then Bill and I went back to our cabin to hang out on the balcony. We made it back to the buffet for our pre-dinner dessert, so even though were only on our third day, we’d already established a routine. I think Deb and Joe worked out, but I was still on antihistamines and was taking it very easy.
Dinner was at Taste – the first meal Joe and Debbie ate in that dining room. We all agreed that we liked the Manhattan Room better. The food and service was virtually the same, but the decor and ambiance in Manhattan fit us better.
The Mexcal Duo became another part of our routine. Deb and Joe dance ballroom. In fact, Deb teaches it and Joe teaches skate dance. So, dancing is important to them. Since I wasn’t exactly to to snuff, I hadn’t been cutting the rug, too much – and that was fine with Bill. Deb and Joe on the other hand had been scouting out all the musical venues to discover the best dance music. The Mexcal Duo, who played nightly in the Deck 5 Atrium were their favorites.
This particular evening we didn’t spend much time with the Mexcal Duo, because we had reservations for the Legends in Concert Show in the Epic Theater. This was one I’d been excited about. On the NCL website and throughout the ship, I’d seen pictures of the impersonators in Legends dressed up like people I really thought were legends: Elvis, Marilyn Munroe, The Beatles – you know, the really big names.
Well the show started off with a nod of the head to Whoopie Goldberg in Sister Act. I didn’t think it was a very effective nod, but I’m a big Whoopie fan, so I appreciated the effort. The Whoopie Goldberg impersonator was acceptable when she had on the nun’s habit, but when she tried to do stand-up Whoopie style, the act started wearing thin.
Next a guy came out and did Jimmy Buffet. He was a really good Jimmy Buffet. Not only did he sound like him, he could have been his twin brother. I enjoy Jimmy Buffet and his Parrot Heads, but I thought that part went on a little bit too long, also.
Then out came the impersonator who had been Whoopie Goldberg, but now she was Donna Summer. I’d thought the impersonator was a little small to be Whoopie, but she was particularly unconvincing as Donna Summer. I remembered Donna Summer as this long, tall drink of water and she was being portrayed by someone who was short and chunky. However, the music was glorious.
As good as the music was – I was still waiting for the legends. Where was Elvis? I’d have preferred quicker bits on each star, but more stars. The longer the impersonators were at it, the more the illusion fell apart.
Then we got a real legend – Michael Jackson. I can only imagine how difficult it was for this guy to be as convincing as he was. You knew it wasn’t really Michael, but occasionally you chose to forget. Instead of coming out and wowing us and then moving on to the next legend, the Michael Jackson impersonator did several songs. With the addition of each song the magic faded some more.
So – was the show good. Yes, it was. Could it have been better. Yes, it could.
After the show, Deb and Joe headed to the dance floor, but Bill and I headed to the room. Be back next week for St. Thomas and in the meantime, tell me which legend you think should have been impersonated.
Have you been enjoying the sounds of summer? You know those great outdoor concerts that pop up all over the place. If you haven’t then shame on you.
Concerts on the Lawn at DABS
Take the Dallas Arboretum for instance. On a recent Tuesday night Bill and I were there for an UTD alumni event. The band that evening was a Journey tribute band, cranking out memories from the eighties. But whatever your musical taste, from Brave Combo‘s electric polka to Le Freak’s disco, the Arboretum has a night for you.
What’s more, the venue is superb. Sure the grass covered amphitheater is a great place to have a picnic and listen to some live music, but you’re at one of the best arboretums in the world and you’re free to roam the grounds. Here’s a tip. The arboretum has become so popular that it’s hard to get the gardens to yourself. With everyone else tapping their toes by the concert stage, Bill and I took a stroll. Being alone in the gardens just before dusk is a romantic experience. Then we rejoined the revelers and caught the last moment of the sun.
The concerts at the arboretum require purchasing a ticket (unless you’re a guest of your alma mater), but there’s a lot of free music outside elsewhere, too. Throughout the summer and fall the Nasher Sculpture Center throws a bash called ’til Midnight at the Nasher. What’s really cool about it is that you usually have to pay to see the Nasher collection, but on concert nights, not only is the concert free, but so is the museum.
The Nasher is next door to the Dallas Museum of Art who used to rock downtown with Jazz Under Stars during the summer months, but they’ve moved their concerts indoors. Every Thursday you can sit under the Chihuly and enjoy the Uptown skyline in air conditioned comfort to the sound of live jazz. There’s also Late Night at the DMA on the third Friday of every month and they host some great concerts then. The DMA concerts are free, but you might have to pay to get into some of the special exhibitions. Oh, but we were talking about outdoor concerts weren’t we!
Then perhaps you should go out to The Harbor in Rockwall. I have it on good authority that on Thursday evenings, boats on Lake Ray Hubbard gather just off shore and the multi-use complex is covered in barely covered bodies getting down to the music. Bill and I were there for a Sunday afternoon recently and the place was hopping, so I have to assume that it’s a pretty wild scene with a free concert going on.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. I know Watters Creek has a Concerts by the Creek series. Their green is always a pleasure to visit, but we’ve happened upon one of their concerts before and it’s really something special.
For a do it yourself concert with fireworks, Summer Blast at Grapevine Towne Center. You download the music, they provide the parking lot and Grapevine Lake has the fireworks. Then in the fall, Grapevine Towne Center will have a Sunset Concert Series.
What about you? What’s your favorite outdoor concert in the Metroplex?
My post about the fair last year is getting a lot of hits lately, so I knew I’d be visiting Big Tex soon. I just got home from a marvelous day there, so if there are more typos than usual please forgive me. I wanted to fill you in as soon as I could.
Our 2012 Visit
The rainy Sunday morning scared away the throngs and the cooler weather made it even more enjoyable. In spite of the dreary weather, great luck accompanied us all day long. First luck was asking some policemen about the price of parking. They pointed out a free place
and said they’d be there watching the car. It seemed too good to be true, but the car was still there when came back.
As soon as we entered the fairgrounds, we walked by a pavilion where they were giving away samples of Sensodyne Toothpaste. That’s Bill’s toothpaste of choice, but he hates that he has to use it because it
costs more than other toothpastes. We loaded up on samples and coupons – and then Bill visited them again on the way out.
Cross-referencing our entrance gate with my list of free shows sent us towards the Greenhouse on the Midway where the Tree Man Stilt Walker was the next show in proximity . We located it with time to spare, so I hurried to the nearest Fletcher’s to get our first corny dog of the day. Very happy mouth and tummy!
You’ll want to go to the Greenhouse. You’ll love the garden inside with it’s miniature trains wandering among miniature Texas landmarks. There’s a pumpkin carver creating autumn delights from HUGE pumpkins in one corner and Southern Living celebrities giving lectures in the other. However, don’t worry about getting there for the Tree Man Stilt Walker. It’s just a guy dressed like an Ent posing for pictures. I’m sure he’s a very nice Ent, but no need plan your day around him.
Next we went over to the Thrillway to catch the BMX Bike Show – a much better use of time. What these guys can do
with two wheels is amazing; so go! From high flying bikes we segued to high flying birds at the Kroger Birds of the World in the Band Shell. This show has been coming to the fair for many years and there’s really nothing new. If you have kids or are just crazy about birds, then you’ll enjoy it, but I wished that I’d used my time otherwise.
On the way to the Cotton Bowl Plaza for our second corny dog, we passed the Chinese Lantern Exhibit at the Lagoon. We were able to peek over at it from the Band Shell and at the end of the plaza they have a gate where you can peep at a snippet of what’s there. We would have loved to see it all, but it’s nigh onto $20 each and that just didn’t make any sense with all the other expenses of the day. So you rich guys go and tell me how it is.
Near the Lagoon we passed the Tree House Maestro. It’s a guy singing in a treehouse. If you take a food break at the plaza I recommend carrying your meal around the corner and enjoying his music. If you eat your meal in the plaza you might be there when the Midway Barker is doing his act and that’s well worth missing.
As we strolled by Big Tex, four o’clock was drawing nigh, which meant that we had some choices to make. Most of the
free entertainment have last shows between four and six, so we had to decide which to make an effort to see. We chose the USMC Drum & Bugle Corp. They were great, but we also wanted to see the African Acrobats, so after a few numbers we sneaked away and got in on the last part of the acrobats. We should have stayed with the Marines.
Since we were next to the automobile building, Bill made a detour through it. Favorites? The Dodge Challenger and the Chevrolet Camaro. The Ford Fusion had great exterior styling, but on the inside it looked like a Ford. The Impala was pretty amazing and we’d be happy with any of the Cadillacs.
Exiting the automobile building, Bill heard Arabic music and made a beeline to the steps in front of the Hall of State. His reward was scantily clad women gyrating with scarfs, swords and other paraphernalia. He was one happy guy. There was folk dancing of all types being preformed there throughout the day and if I had it to do all over again, I think I might have camped out there and enjoyed it. We would have missed out on a lot of exercise, but I think it would have been entertaining.
Poor Bill was worn out from all the walking I’d made him do, but being the champion he is, he followed along as I tried to find two more shows. I found the stage for the Chinese Acrobats, but I’d been mistaken about the time, so we missed that show. We found the Tropical Music Man in the Coliseum. He was a really nice guy, playing some great tunes, but he wasn’t Elvis and there were these wild kids creating havoc. We got out of there and found The Kildares on the Backdoor Stage. Now these guys are worth a little effort. They’re a Celtic rock
group and they perform on a revolving round stage. I hadn’t planned on seeing them, but was glad we didn’t miss them.
When The Kildares were through, it was a little early to catch that last Chinese Acrobat show and Bill was hungry again. He’s been on the South Beach Diet and even though he’d shared a couple of corny dogs with me, he didn’t want to stray too far from his regimen. He found some grilled shrimp (he doesn’t recommend it) and we moseyed over to the Texas Wine Garden to eat it.
The Wine Garden is a pleasant shaded area and most of the tables were inhabited. On my own, I would have looked around and been disappointed no empty tables were available. Bill talked me into inviting ourselves to a table where a couple of girls were sharing a bottle of wine. We discovered we’d invited ourselves into one of the best parts of the day. These fun girls not only shared their table with us, but they let us taste their wine. The pair were cousins from Flower Mound and worked at a restaurant called Decanter Restaurant and Wine Bar. They told us about the extensive wine training the restaurant gives their employees, so we’re going to make the trip over there sometime soon.
After sharing corny dog number three, we said good-bye to our Flower Mound buddies. When Bill is surrounded with pretty women he loses all track of the time, so he thought we still had time to see the Chinese Acrobats. The Acrobats were over, but there was still a lot more fair.
We crossed over to the Creative Arts Building and perused the ribbon winners, amused ourselves with the Embarcadero salespeople and breezed through the Food and Fiber Building (where we were too late for samples). As we headed to the Centennial Building to see the imported cars we heard Uncle Cracker, at the Chevrolet Main Stage, pouring out some toe-tapping tunes. We didn’t stop to cut a rug, but we did cut through the Craft Pavilion where we saw some amazing wooden airplane models, but our billfolds stayed safely tucked away. Inside the Centennial Building Bill lingered lovingly in the Lexus area and I drooled a little bit over the Volkswagon CC.
Our day was winding down, but the fun wasn’t over yet. Bill caught the tail end of the second appearance of the belly dance ensemble, which put us in exactly the right spot for the Parade. It was a nice little parade, but I think I’m ruined for parades the rest of my life. After seeing The Grand Floral Parade in Portland this year it will take some kind of parade to make an impression.
We had a few more food coupons left and the Tower Building was nearby, so we found a way to spend them. The Diet Dr. Pepper was refreshing, but the gyro was below par.
Illumination Sensation at the Esplanade was a spectacular end to our evening. I’d try to explain it, but words aren’t adequate, so be sure not to go home until you’ve experienced it. Bill held my hand on the way back to the car and I decided it had been one of the best visits I’d ever made to the fair.
I hope you’ll make it to the fair this year. Let me know how you like it!
Happy Fourth of July! I love my country and I’m grateful to those who sacrificed to build this great nation. I’m particularly proud of the men and women who still serve in our military. How can we help but to throw back our shoulders and lift up our chests in pride? For most Americans the Fourth of July is all about picnics and fireworks, but my favorite memory of this holiday happened on another continent.
Celebrating America, Over There
It was a gorgeous night. Twinkling stars gamboled in an ultramarine sky. Tall trees swayed in a soft breeze. Red and white tablecloths covered wooden picnic tables. But we weren’t lakeside at an American wienie roast. We were in a German Beergarden.
Germans love to sing. I’ve been in their country several times and I’m always amazed by how quickly they’ll break into song. First one person will lift their voice and then they’ll be joined by everyone around. On this particular night we were enjoying an songfest, along with some brats and brew. We Americans had no idea what was being sung; we just knew it was lovely, so we clapped enthusiastically after every number. After a few rousing choruses of German singing we tried to convey our appreciation in a hodge podge of gestures, English and badly pronounced German. The Germans spoke English much better than we spoke German and they were soon insisting that we sing.
We compared notes and quickly discovered we shared little similarity in our musical tastes. One American would throw out a song title only to get blank stares from the rest of the table. Finally, someone said,”It’s the Fourth of July, we could sing something patriotic.” Someone else said, “I think I know all the words to God Bless America.” Another American said, “Yeah and then we can do the Star Spangled Banner.”
With fear and trepidation, Mr. God Bless America began singing and the rest of us joined in as we could. By the chorus we were all well-tuned to one another and making a good performance of it. Then, we stood as one and began to sing, “O-oh say can you see…” By the time the bombs were bursting in air, the Germans around us began to stand one-by-one in honor of their visitors’ nation. A crowd began to gather at the edge of the beer garden and people had come out to the balconies of a near by hotel. After we musically declared America as the land of the free and the home of the brave, the crowd began to applaud and kept applauding for what seemed a very long time.
I’ll never forget that night. The Star Spangled Banner is no longer just something I sing at football games. Whenever I sing our national anthem, I remember the pride I felt at that shining moment, many years ago, in a faraway place. I see people all over the world burn our flag and carry placards against us, but they are strangers on a TV screen. For me, that night in Germany, the world was honoring America and Americans. I’m proud to be an American. Very proud.
TRAVEL HERE/TRAVEL THERE: EGYPTIANS WHO DON’T VISIT EGYPT
I stood in reverence before a glass-encased mummy at the Cairo Museum. My Egyptian niece stood a few steps away – her arms crossed, her foot tapping. When we left, I apologized for staying so long. “I’m sure you’re here all the time,” I added. She answered, “I think we came once when I was in school.”
A few days later, my husband and I were in a hired car on our way to the Pyramids. I asked him about his trips to the site as a child. “I don’t remember going,” he said.
Finally, later in the week, as we strolled into the gates of the Citadel, Bill related fond memories of picnics on the lawn under the trees. I began to pepper him with questions about the museums housed in the buildings scattered throughout the fortress. “We just came up here for picnics,” he replied.
OTHER MISSED OPPORTUNITIES
Unfortunately, my relatives in Cairo are not alone. Sitting in a pub in northwest England, chatting with some locals, my traveling companion and I related the difficulties we’d had earlier in the day. I was anxious to see the Gladstone Pottery Museum and a traffic circle kept dumping us someplace else. Our new friends thought going to the potteries was a capital idea, but they’d lived there all their lives and hadn’t made the fifteen minute trip themselves.
WHAT ARE YOU MISSING?
How about you? Do you split your leisure time between Starbucks and the couch in front of the TV or do you make the effort to be a tourist at home? I’ll admit it’s easy to be a tourist in a big city like Dallas. So, you might say, “there’s nothing to see in my little town,” but I’d say that’s just because you’re not looking.
A LITTLE TOWN CALLED GODLEY
What about Godley, Texas? In 2000, there were less than 300 families living in Godley. Imagine how few there were back in the early 1970’s. Yet, I went there with a friend from Stephen F. Autin State University and she thought I was lucky to be making the trip. She was sorry we’d miss the girl’s basketball game. I wasn’t a big fan of basketball, but after she shared stories of the team’s heroes, successes and defeats, I knew I was missing a real treat.
At least we’d be in time for the party after the game. Win or lose, after home games there was always a party. And by the time the party broke up, it would be late enough to see the Godley Cemetery where odd lights shone out in the wee hours of the morning. We’d sleep late on Saturday morning and then go to the mall. According to my friend it was the best mall in the world. Of course, her parents expected us to go to church Sunday morning, but the dinner her mom would cook after would make it worth the effort. My friend thought it was just too bad that we’d have to head back to Nacogdoches so quickly, because there was so much to do in Godley.
I want to tell you that this city girl had a blast out in the boonies. The big post game party was an ice chest with sodas and a bowl of pretzels. The lights in the cemetery didn’t appear and we had to drive all the way to Fort Worth for the mall. Yet my friend’s attitude toward her home made the trip a winner. The lives of the almost-300 families in Godley sounded more exciting than Peyton Place, when my friend described them. Though we didn’t see the weird lights of Godley Cemetery, she regaled me with plenty of stories about nights when the lights had spooked both the young and the old. Every mile of dirt road had a tale of drama and wonder attached to it. My friend was thrilled with Godley and she made it exciting for me.
BECOME A HOMETOWN TOURIST
So get up off the sofa, google your hometown, drop by the Chamber of Commerce, talk to your next door neighbor. You probably live in a great destination and don’t even know it. Let me know what you discover as a hometown tourist.