Trip Start Apr 01, 1979
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , Texas
Sunday, February 19, 2006

I like Dallas.  I think, though, that of those whom aren't actually from there (and perhaps many of those as well) I'm in the minority.  Dallas is certainly not a paradise.  It's a concrete jungle that seems to be quite cold in the winter and way too hot in the summer.  Nevertheless, my visits have always been pleasant.  When I lived in Arkansas, coming down to Dallas, which took about 6 hours to drive, was a nice escape from the doldrums of my sheltered life in the Ozark foothills.  It brought top class restaurants and entertainment that I couldn't find in my small town existence.  It also was the home of a professional soccer team, and seeing the Dallas Burn at the Cotton Bowl was my first MLS (Major League Soccer) experience.  So Dallas has a warm place in my heart.  Yet this weekend in February, when my girlfriend and I decided to venture down into Texas, was hardly warm.  In fact, as referenced above, we ran across some of those quite cold winter days.
Soccer, like so many other times to so many other places, once again brought me to Dallas, and the fact that my current girlfriend (there have been a lot!) had never been before.  You can safely say that I love that good old sport, and from time to time, I even pony up the cash to go see the great DC United team roll over someone here in my little town.  And if the US national team comes to town, well you can count on me being there.  I'm a diehard US team supporter, having at one time dyed my hair red then later blue (which turned to green after about three days, mind you.  Never trust blue hair dye.).  I've traveled far and wide to see them play, and every time has been a great experience.  To be fair I usually don't jaunt cross country for small games, which is exactly what this one was.  It was a game against Guatemala, a tune up and last ditch effort for a few fringe players to make the 2006 World Cup roster.  But more than that, it was being played at the brand new Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas, and that was just as much of a draw for me as the game itself.
I was also there to visit the city of Dallas and surrounding area, and I had come up with a few things that I hadn't done before that might make my visit pleasant.  The first of those was staying at an Embassy Suites.  Granted, this hotel is not particularly special, but it does have free breakfast and an indoor pool, and when I was a kid, they advertised using Garfield as their spokesman.  I had always wanted to stay in one and presto, this was the perfect chance.  The other two major adventures were a visit to the 6th Floor Museum, also known as the Book Depository, where Lee Harvey Oswald took the life of President Kennedy so many years before.
The museum is a nice tribute to JFK and has a lot of interesting facts about the build-up to, the assassination itself, and the turbulent and conspiracy-laden years that followed.  There was a nice view from the windows down on to the street below where he had been shot.  I got a phone call as I reached the window.  It was my friend S., who was also on his way to Dallas for the game.  I told him about where I was and stated boldly, "Yeah, I could've totally shot him from here.  No doubt about it.  I mean it's like a fish in a barrel."  The security guard standing nearby rushed over and told me to turn off my phone immediately.  Apparently it wasn't allowed.  After writing a haiku in the guest book, as is my forte, we left and went to the memorial nearby.  It was nice and I had my picture taken a lot.  From the pics, you can see I took it very seriously.  (I realize I'm a jerk, but life is too short not to have a good time.)
The other major tourist jaunt we took was to see some true Texas life.  So we went to the Fort Worth Stockyards, an example of how Texas used to be when it was just a wild land of cattle and cowboys.  Well, except that the Stockyards has a lot of fancy restaurants (not actually fancy, but tourist fancy), a strip mall or two, and some really crappy tourist attractions and trinket shops.  Not the best, but I was glad to get out of Dallas for a piece (that's Texas lingo for "a little while").  The stockyards did give us the opportunity to eat some decent steak and drink a couple of beers.  Plus, at one of the trinket shops they even sold wine from grapes grown in Texas.  Who knew Texas made wine?  (We actually bought a couple more bottles at reputable Texas wine sellers later in the voyage, and the wine isn't too bad.  Not that I know anything about wine.  I generally say wine is either not too bad or bad.  Those are my only descriptors.  That way I generally don't sound stupid no matter what.  I also refuse to smell the cork, despite the insistence of wine snobs, and if I can avoid it, I never spend more than 7 dollars on a bottle.  It's a tough task, but I enjoy it.  If a 7 dollar bottle turns out to be really good to one of those wine snob people I can always say, "Yes, what a great find it was!")
The night before the soccer game, we ventured out to a massive Honky Tonk dance club called Red River.  Apparently this is quite a popular place, since the parking lot was overflowing with pick-up trucks and the like.  When we entered and were served a drink by a scantily clad barmaid with an absolutely horrific face (she looked like her face had frozen while trying to take a massive dump [a deep rooted fear of mine]).  She was probably one of the most attractive girls there, though, especially since she didn't have a mustache.  She also took a napkin and gave my beer a de facto diaper, which was pleasant.  I drank a Lone Star of course.
As I surveyed my surroundings, I was struck by the size of the place.  It was as a big as a factory and all open.  The bars were mostly along the outside with a central bar and circular dance floor in the middle.  The dance floor was for couples, and there was quite a big of two-steppin' going on.  At least I think it was two-steppin'.  That's the only dance I've heard of besides the tango and the lombada, and it didn't look like either of those.  Nor salsa, which is not just a condiment apparently.  I fancy myself quite the dancer, and I thought surely I could swing it just like these country-city folk with their too tight jeans (the men, I mean - the women wore mostly skirts).  I was wrong.  I looked like a fool out there and quickly decided, after a few bumps and bruises to myself, my girl and the other dancers, that this just wasn't my thing.  The live band that was playing was not bad actually, but after a couple hours of pure country, we were out the door and on our way.
Before the game, we met my friend S. and his hot little biscuit wife, A., at a popular local eatery (IHOP).  I knew them both from my college days in the Arkansas wilderness.  S. was of Irish descent, even though he claimed it was German, and was probably the worst soccer player I'd ever met.  Purportedly a left-footed player, in my opinion the only thing he did well with his left foot was push down the clutch in his car.  Incidentally, his car had an automatic transmission.  A. was some sort of Hispanic.  I guessed it was probably Nicaraguan or something, but it's hard to keep track of these things.  Anyway, let's just call her Mexican for our purposes.  Luckily, the US wasn't playing Mexico so she was okay (her attendance at the US v Mexico contest did happen though, but months earlier.  She went home sad, as Mexico, once again, lost 2-0).  Anyway, it was good to catch up with them and enjoy the conversation and spirits (my spirit was hot chocolate with whip cream).  The game itself, besides it being incredibly cold, was only memorable for a nice goal from DC United superstar Ben Olsen.  Otherwise, it lacked a lot of pizzazz.  The new stadium, though, was quite nice.  And the US won, 4-0.  Poor little Honduran A. went home unhappy again.
In all, that truly concluded our Dallas experience.  Yes, we had did have the chance to spend about 8 hours in the airport after our US Air flight got cancelled, but that was hardly memorable.  It mostly consisted of me resisting the temptation to go to Cinnabon (a challenge to say the least).  We did finally make it home, and we did finally come to the conclusion that Dallas, as I said, is pretty nice after all.  Especially when the US wins.
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