Part 2 – 2015 Road Trip – Fast Cars and JFK

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Still running behind on the blogs but will try to add some more. From Amarillo we woke up on Friday morning with the goal to make it to Houston, Texas and our home for a couple of days.  We figured we better stop by Calgary’s sister city, Dallas, prior to finishing the journey to Southern Texas.  So at just after 8AM we headed out.

I have been led to believe that Texas is a wealthy state because of its oil industry.  No state income tax, instead a sales tax.  Well definitely from Amarillo to Dallas did we see a need for some more investment into the State.  Most of the towns along the road side could be best described as run down shit hole.  And that is being very generous.  The standard state of most road side business was closed, boarded up and weeds growing inside.  The few businesses that appeared open seemed like they were just awaiting for the same fate.  The roads are suffering from severe frost heave, without the frost.  Good thing we took the Jetta instead of the Jeep, those roads would have shaken the jeep into pieces.  Really there is nothing in Norther Texas worth seeing at all.  So we pushed on until we got to Dallas.

Dallas is a huge area and the first part of the larger Dallas area we entered was Forth Worth.  For Worth came with an awesome surprise for me.  As we drove into the town on the freeway, a giant structure appeared to our left.  It looked like a sports facility and got my interest.  As we got closer I realized it was Texas Motor Speedway, home of 2 NASCAR races every year.  Years ago we drove down a Nevada Highway on the way home from Vegas and say the local NASCAR track in the distance.  We couldn’t stop, as we had two dogs with us on that trip.  In Forth Worth however I had the chance to stop and see the track.  We pulled into the empty parking lot and up to the front of the track.  We then got out of the car to wander around.  We accidentally wandered into the members only club.  As we were wandering around like two lost children in this fancy area a security guard politely approached us seeing what we were up to.  His name was Glade.  Thanks to Tiana being awesome, he took us in further instead of just giving us the boot. After Tiana asked him to see the track, a question he could have just told us to take the tour, he took us up to the members dining room that over looks Turn 1.  It is a massive ballroom with giant windows looking out onto the track.  We went and stood up there to take pictures.  He pointed out where the infield camping was and how many seats there were.  He was awesome.  When he was done showing us this private area he told us about the tour if we just drove over to the gift shop.  Yes drive over it was almost not visible from the actual track.  Over at the gift shop we signed up for the tour of the track.  They took us around to see the garages, victory lane and the pits.  The picture for this blog is a panoramic of the front stretch Tiana took from the pitwall.   Then we got back into the tour van and the tour guide took us on a two lap rip around the track.  She started us up against the wall in turn 1 with its steep banking looking back down the hill into the infield.  From there she did a full lap and a half, following the race line.  It was pretty cool for a NASCAR fan.  Tiana is the best ever, because I can’t imagine this had a ton of appeal to her but it was definitely a bucket list moment for me.  Although it added the need to try their Team Texas program where you get to actually drive the NASCAR retired cars around the track.

All good things must come to an end, and our trip to Texas Motor Speedway was done.  Off to downtown Dallas from there.  We had heard the Houston wasn’t much of a tourist stop and that Dallas might be better.  I even read a review by a Houstonian that said “Houston is not for tourists ever, go to Dallas.”  I have to say Dallas is not a pretty city at all and this left me nervous about the next few days of our trip.  At its best Dallas has a few brick buildings mixed in with concrete buildings.  It is mostly nondescript without nice suburbs along the roadside or anything else particularly nice.  The drive to downtown is uninspiring.  We had one stop in mind downtown.  The Book Depository which is now a small museum on the 6th floor of the old book Depository. It serves as the sad reminder of the day that JFK was shot.  The tour is reasonably priced but includes zero opportunities for photos.  The tour is split in to three different sections.  1) The presidency of JFK 2) The assassination of JFK and 3) JFK Legacy.  The part covering his family conveniently leaves out the family bootlegging tradition.  You enter the building on the main floor, to a large desk in the middle. There a lady took our money and handed us each a small media player with some headphones “if it goes to sleep just shake it to wake it up” is pretty much all she says in a bored voice.  Obviously this has been repeated about 4000 times a day.  The desk directs you toward an elevator that takes you up to the sixth floor and the museum.  The Elevator empties into a hallway at the sixth floor that crosses into what was once the Texas School Book Depository.  The floors and walls are all in grey/blue hues and there a large boards with writing and pictures.  Each board has a number, corresponding to the track number on your media player.  You wind through the museum with the voice of one of the reporters in Dallas the day of the JFK assassination talking you through the displays.  Every once in a while there is a supplemental media track to listen to for further info.  As you wrap your way to the left and across the floor you eventually come back to one corner.  In this corner is a small area enclosed by glass.  A beaten up dark brown and black wood floor is inside with boxes arranged all over the place.  The enclosure is set up as it was the day Lee Harvey Oswald shot Kennedy, this little enclosure is the snipers perch.  The recording explains how everything is original as it was that day, except the boxes are recreations because they were all filed as evidence.  From there you wind yourself right, across the side of the building facing where Kennedy’s motorcade was attacked and then back to the elevator side of the building.  A nice big square.  When yo get to the end it comes to another glass enclosure.  Again preserved as best as possible from the day of the assassination.  This is the back stair way that Oswald escaped through and where the rifle was found.  As you leave there are a set of binders for you to record your thoughts on.  Many people leave a note, we chose not to.

After riding the elevator back down from the main exhibit you are tossed into the obligatory trinket shop.  A ton of JFK conspiracy books of course.  We quickly hopped out of there and down onto Dealey Plaza, the scene of the crime as it were.  From videos and pictures you don’t really get perspective of what it looked like.  The motorcade made a sharp left down towards this area, heading from left to right (looking away from the depository), the window that the fatal shots were taken from are on the left end of this section of road.  The road is actually a reasonably steep hill. Across the street is an open green space before the other side of the road.  We stood on the grassy knoll and walked the area.  On the street are marked two Xs.  The first X marks Oswald’s first shot, a miss behind the car, the second X a bit further down the road marks where Oswald’s second and third shots struck Kennedy before the car sped under the tri-overpass.  It is something to see.

After completing the JFK visit it was off to Houston for our stay at our temporary home.  The traffic was pretty crappy coming out of Dallas and we spent a ton of time there.  Finally we escaped the traffic and got out-of-town.  Hungry we stopped at a Whataburger on the roadside.  Had heard good things.  The burger was pretty good but nothing really all that special.  We found our hotel late that Friday in a beautiful area of Houston by the Houston Galleria ( a fancy mall) and then topped off our tummies with Tiana’s favourite chicken at Popeye’s.

Scorecard of Cities

Dallas – Can’t live there too boring.

Part 3: Spaceships and Baseball Bats

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