So, I haven’t posted a lot lately. Partly because I’ve been busy and partly because pretty much everything I wanted to post was a negative reaction to negative incidents going on in this country and I just didn’t want to go there constantly with this blog. Sometimes is fine, all the time, not so much. I’ve been having a hard time being optimistic and did not want to go all curmudgeon, all the time. Then came the weekend of the 4th of July. I took a couple of extra days off from work and spent the long holiday weekend with my family. On the day of the 4th we went to a place for lunch here in Dallas, off of lower Greenville, called the Truckyard. It is an outdoor seating area with a bar on one side and several food trucks to choose from on the other. We had lunch and a couple of drinks sitting outside in the shade enjoying a warm but beautiful day. Next we made our way to Northpark Mall to watch dinosaurs snack on unlucky humans in Jurassic World. It’s amazing how a couple of mojitos make that more funny than scary, lol. It was the perfect way to beat the heat of a Texas afternoon in July. After the movie we jumped on DART and went down to Fair Park to watch the fireworks in the Cotton Bowl. We got there well before dark and had a chance to sit and do a bit of people watching. It was fun and as the crowd got larger as it started getting dark the “wave” made it’s way around the stadium a few times. The fireworks were good although they played some really cheesy music with them. Someone seriously needs to work on that. One of the issues with riding DART to an event like that is that while it may be a bit crowded going, it’s not too bad because people arrive at varying times, but everyone leaves at the same time. So there was a huge crowd waiting for the DART trains. And here finally, I come to the point of this post. The first is that it was a very mixed crowd of people. There were lots of white people, lots of black people and lots of hispanic people. All enjoying a community event together with no issues whatsoever. Brings a bit of perspective. Because even though there is institutional and systemic racism rampant in this country, when it comes right down to it, most people are happy to live and let live and that is encouraging for the prospect of changing the course of things in this country. But this is what really struck me. I was standing a bit behind the others in my group and was looking around people watching again while waiting for the train. And I’m not exaggerating when I say there were hundreds of people waiting. Off to my left were two old gentlemen. I’d say in their late seventies or early eighties, both white haired and clearly elderly. They were both wearing the ubiquitous old man summer outfit of short-sleeved button down shirts, with knee-length shorts and white socks with sneakers. And they were holding hands. They were clearly solicitous of each other in the crowd of people, hanging on tight, making sure the other was ok. I focused on their large, gnarled hands intertwined and it brought me to tears. Not because they were holding hands, but because they COULD hold hands. These were two men who not only felt it was safe to do so, but were completely ignored doing so as if it were the most natural thing in the world. This is not something that has been so for very long. I don’t know if it was the SCOTUS same-sex marriage decision that made them feel safe or if they had felt so before that, but I know that while I have seen some young gay and lesbian couples showing affection in public I had never seen two older men doing so. It was unsafe to do so for so very long. Men holding hands in public not so long ago would have been at the very least verbally attacked and more likely physically attacked. And I stood there in that crowd, waiting for the train, watching those old guys just be a couple and do so without harassment or disgust or whispering and pointing or any other negative reaction and I was proud of my country. Proud that it is finally realizing that love, no matter it’s form is a good thing and everyone deserves it and deserves respect and dignity no matter who they love.
Saturday October 4th was an absolutely gorgeous September day here in Dallas. Clear skies, lovely temperatures in the upper 70’s/low 80’s, and a light breeze. A perfect day to attend the fair at Fair Park. We took DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit). At $5.00 for a day pass it’s a good deal and the train stops right at the entrance to the fair.
You can click on the photos to enlarge.
Tickets at the gate are $17.00 but you can purchase in advance at Kroger for $15.50. It doesn’t seem like much of a savings, but beyond the $1.50, it saved us a very long wait in the line to buy tickets at the entrance. There are long lines for everything so missing this one is a plus. Everyone is scanned with a hand held metal detector at the entrance and purses and backpacks are checked. The next line is to buy coupons. All food items and midway rides are purchased with coupons. They are .50 cents each, sold in pages of 20 for $10.00. You’ll need several more than 1 page depending on how much food and how many rides you indulge. Nothing is cheap at the fair.
Our first stop was the auto show. The State Fair of Texas is the only fair in the country to include a full blown auto show, dating back to 1904. It includes over 300,000 square feet of new model vehicles, two buildings, a Truck Zone and a Test Drive Track. Lots of really awesome cars, most of which are way too expensive! Fun to look at, sit in and dream about though. All of my auto show pictures turned out blurry. My iPhone photography skills are apparently not so great!
The next stop was a walk through a section of a giant redwood that was hollowed out and turned into a 3 room mini-house. Plenty of headroom, although someone well over 6 feet might need to stoop. It has a bedroom, living room and kitchen. No bathroom so I guess an outhouse was needed. I think mini houses are cool and I really don’t get the concept of one or two people living in giant Mansions or even McMansions, but I’d need a bathroom IN my place, no matter the size.
We then walked through a large exhibit area where you can buy everything from handmade wallets, jewelry, and purses to all kinds of art in the form of sketches, paintings, photography, and sculpture. There are some really cool things available to purchase at the fair. Next we wandered about a bit checking out the sights.
Of course you have to go and check out Big Tex. He is 52 ft. tall and the tallest cowboy in Texas. I’ve personally always found him to be on the creepy side. That said, it was sad when the original burned down a couple of years ago. There was some hope on my part that the new Big Tex would be less creepy, but nope.
I wanted to go check out all the livestock before those sections closed for the day, (we didn’t go until late afternoon) but I was overruled in favor of the midway. The most crowded and loud part of the fair, though it is fun to walk through and people watch. It is also the place to lose the most money. You can’t use coupons here, you have to buy a card and put money on it. The different games vendors then scan the card to remove the number of “credits” their game charges. It’s an ingenious way to keep you from knowing for sure how much money you’ve spent. Suddenly your card is empty and you’re either done or re-loading it, depending on your level of self control.
I’m a big fan of roller coasters and some other amusement park rides, but most fair rides I’m just happy to watch. Except for the Texas Star. It is 212 feet tall and the largest ferris wheel in North America. It’s also very popular, so be prepared for a long line. It goes pretty fast though. I think we waited about 30 minutes.
The views from the ride are fantastic and I took a lot of photos. Which were all blurry. The one below isn’t too bad though.
Our next stop was the Illumination Sensation light show on the Esplanade. Lots of patriotic music, lasers, jets of flames leaping up at random times and fireworks. I took tons of very blurry pictures that I won’t subject you to.
No trip to the State Fair is complete without a discussion of the food. There is so much to choose from that it is almost impossible to make decisions. Our crew ate corn on the cob (hot and buttery), sausage on a stick, chili pie, fries w/queso and bacon, hot dogs, funnel cakes and chocolate and pineapple waffle cones (both flavors were delicious). We tried the frozen margarita’s and strawberry daiquiri’s. The margarita was gross, the daiquiri just ok. Those are just a fraction of the food and beverage choices available and more than 200 locations across the fair serve food, so you are never far from something that smells delicious. We kept talking about stopping for a Fletcher’s corny dog, but never got around to it. It’s weird, I never think to take pictures of the food I’m about to eat, so no photos, blurry or otherwise.
The State Fair of Texas offers more than 70 amusement rides and 370,000 square feet of exhibits, so there is no possible way to see even close to everything in one trip. And by this point we were footsore and ready to head home. So off to the train station we went.
Of course, it was nearly 9:00 pm and the fair closes at 10:00, so lots of other people had the same idea. We waited for 20 minutes for the next train and even though we were close to the tracks, people made made dashes for the doors and we barely made it on that train. And then we were packed like sardines, standing in the aisles for the first leg of the trip home. Something to consider if you do take DART. The second train was not nearly as crowded and we were able to sit and relax on the rest of the ride home.
The Texas State Fair has taken place every year since 1886 except for varying periods during World War I and World War II, and pumps more than $350 million into the Dallas economy during its 24 day run each year. Security was very visible, but un-intrusive. It was extremely crowded, but everyone was well behaved and I never felt unsafe. It is definitely worth a trip if you are in Dallas between late September and late October. Just make sure you have on comfy shoes and your wallet is full!