Ooh la la!
Trip Start Mar 30, 2009
53Trip End Ongoing
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Translation software really comes in handy when it's been 'ahem' years since high school French! Translation: Hooray for Texas! I really like Paris, and the people are very friendly.
Back to the hotel scene again, but it's not storming, there's no tornado, the office is manned, and the bathroom is unlocked. Yippee!
Downtown Paris is what every Wal-Mart-ravaged small town wishes it could be. There are very few empty storefronts. There are stores full of antiques, sporting goods, home decor, fabric, and art. There are restaurants. There are services like framing, ophthalmologists, attorneys and accountants. The chamber of commerce has a satellite office inside a gallery. The square (or plaza) and each street have plenty of parking, and the street crossings beep to let you know when it's safe to walk. (Although if you want to lounge on the benches, the beeping can get a little annoying.) I spent a full day roaming around downtown and had a ball.
My first stop was the Plaza Art Gallery. Helen Bonham Short, one of the Gallery's artists, was on volunteer duty and graciously showed me around. I also had a chance to chat with Becky from the Visitors Council and get hints on things to do. The Gallery had a nice variety of paintings, pottery, ceramics and furniture (if only the rocker had fit in my truck), and I especially enjoyed seeing the variety of Helen's work displayed side-by-side. Two of her large paintings had amazing perspective: a small slice of earth overwhelmed by beautiful pink sky. Almost biblical. www.theplazagallery.com
Helen suggested lunch at Crawford's Hole in the Wall just a few blocks away, and I'm really glad I listened! Yes, the chicken salad and fruit were quite tasty, but the company was even better. While waiting in line to place my order, I was invited to join two handsome men at their table. Well, I parked myself right down and had a very entertaining time. (In fact, one of these fellows asked for my number, so I'm looking forward to receiving a call. :-) This is also how I found out about King Tut showing in Dallas, so guess where I'm heading next? Anyway, I peeked at other plates and saw nothing but fabulous food, and everyone seemed friendly and at home. I guarantee I'd be hanging out here if I lived in Paris. They're at 202 NW 3rd Street, (903) 737-9025, and tell 'em Marijka from Kentucky sent you.
For those who don't know me, I'm a sew-er. Aside from reading, it's the one thing that's consistently held my attention, regardless of anything else going on in my life. I started sewing at age 8 and haven't stopped. It's been my creative outlet, profession, income, frustration, obsession. It's led me down innumerable creative paths, and I possess enough tools and supplies to open my own store. Heck, a superstore. But there are never enough tools and supplies; therefore, I shop.
And also for those who don't know, fabric stores are dying. (Well, except for quilting and home dec.) Why sew clothes when you can get $10 pants from China? So finding high-quality garment fabrics is a quest, and I'm usually only rewarded online, at Textile Fabrics in Nashville, or in large cities. So imagine my surprise when I found Heritage Fabric Shoppe in little ol' Paris, Texas! Rebekah and her family offer a nice variety of day and evening garment fabrics, as well as cottons and home dec, and the prices are amazing. They also do custom window treatments and are expanding into upholstery. Rebekah and two of her sisters were handling the store the day I visited, and they are wonderful! We had a lively discussion about old movie stars, and a friendly debate over Roy Rogers vs. Gene Autry. (I go for Gene. That's also the case in Fred Astair vs. Gene Kelly. It's Gene.) So I did my creative duty and collected a haul, then promptly shipped it home. Visit them at 28 West Plaza, (303) 785-0300.
I made my second major purchase of the trip: cowboy boots! The good folks at Crazy House Western Wear hooked me up with a beautiful pair of Corral vintage-style boots, and they are HOT. I also got a great hairy belt with studs and a silver buckle, but it's not as wide as the standard rodeo belt because I actually like to sit down once in a while. Joedy even gave me his card in case I got stuck somewhere and needed help. I'm telling you, these Parisians are wonderful. You can find them at 6655 Lamar in Reno, (903) 785-2100.
The hotel manager recommended La Familia, and he was right! Down-home Mexican cooking, yum. Since I had only one shot and wanted to try several things, I asked if I could mix up the enchilada plate. The server asked what I had in mind and I said one chicken, one cheese and one beef. What sauces? Oh, whatever usually comes on each; you know, like an enchilada banana split! I thought it was funnier than she did but, regardless, it was delicious. They're at 303 20th Street NE, (903) 737-0779.
Cranberry orange scone. Cinnamon roll. Ham and cheese croissant. Strawberry cream cheese brioche. These were the goodies I picked up at carb-heavenly Paris Bakery. And, no, I did not eat them all at once - it took two days. I also skipped the beautiful loaves of bread (you can only store so much in a hotel room). You will absolutely kick yourself if you miss this. They're at 120 N Main Street, (903) 784-1331. I know they're closed on Mondays, so you might want to call for business hours first.
Yep, there's a silly Eiffel Tower with a cowboy hat on top. Didn't care. Historic homes. Couldn't summon the interest. A private museum. They wanted a week's notice to let me in. After all the Oklahoma drama, I just wanted to rest and have fun! So I took myself on a hike on the Trail de Paris, a Rails-to-Trails project. There are plenty of photos on their site, and I didn't want to carry a camera, so I just hiked. The trail is longer than stated on their site, and there's a beautiful wood deck for relaxing. It was midday so I mainly saw seniors, but a group of physical therapy patients were also taking advantage of the trail; you know, the people who worked so hard to build it must feel wonderful to provide a smooth, safe environment for everyone. My town recently started a similar project, so it was inspiring to see one at this stage. It's extremely nice. Note to Ollie: it looks like I'll have to get involved when I get home! www.traildeparis.org
I finally have a clean tent. After wrestling with it bent over the tub, I finally just stripped and got in the shower with the whole shebang. Of course, the fancy new shower rod curves out over the floor, so the footprint, tent and rain fly dripped and dripped. After rearranging them repeatedly and mopping the floor for three days, it's dry and properly stowed. I was able to organize and rearrange the truck, so I feel more in control of everything. Finally.
So on my last night I'm trooping across the parking lot, loaded down with the boot box and everything else I can carry, and two (again, handsome) men offer to carry everything to my room. Not lecherously, mind you, but gentlemanly. Turns out the hotel is filled with contractors who are laying computer cables in a new Oklahoma casino. (That explains the white truck convention in the parking lot.) We have a nice chat, of course, and say goodnight.
A little later, I hear ping, ping. I don't pay much attention because the hotel's getting the pool ready and it's been noisy all day. Ping, ping. I open the door to find that one of the guys is flinging pennies up at my door (I'm on the top level of a motel with outside doors). They're off to buy beer and tequila, and do I want any? Well, hey, I haven't had a good tequila in a while and I'm on vacation, why not? Besides, I grew up in the boonies on a farm and no one ever flung rocks (or pennies) at my window. How could I refuse? So we ended up pulling chairs and bedside tables out on the balcony/walkway, telling so many jokes and stories that we never got around to playing cards or dominoes, or going around the corner to play pool. We were making such a racket that it's a good thing most of the hotel guests were sitting on my balcony. Ooh la la, indeed!