Random Saturdays – Dallas Road Trip Oh Thirteen, pt 2

In case you missed it, here is Part 1 of Dallas Road Trip Oh Thirteen.

On the last day of the Road Trip, we tried White Rock Coffee.  Growing up in Dallas, we have always wanted to try it, but just never got around to it.  If you can get over the crazy parking lot, it’s a really cool place with good food and good coffee.  The reviews online say that it’s so much better than Starbucks, but I gotta be honest and say that I think it’s exactly on par with Starbucks.  The prices are also similar, but White Rock Coffee isn’t a big chain, so going there is a good way to support a small local business.

When we finished there, we had to get gas before driving around to look for some older Dallas High Schools.  We drove by a Public Storage and Amanda said, “Look, Angela, all of our RV parking problems are solved!”  There was a line of RVs parked at the back of Public Storage, and for whatever reason, we started laughing hysterically.  When we got to the QT at the end of the block, we pulled up at the gas pump behind this vehicle:

Frequent Stops and Backing

So much backing, so little time

This did nothing to quiet down our laughing fit.  After we got gas, we headed back up the street and I suggested that Amanda drop me off so that I could walk up to Public Storage to get a good picture.  Then, she could pick me up when I was done.  She joked about how her picking me up by the side of the road was a recurring thing this Road Trip.  Our efforts were worth it, though, because I was able to send this gem of a tweet:

I don’t think I ever explained “TBD” on here.  On the Saturday morning after Amanda and I tried to get drunk, but just went through perimenopause, we went to Einstein Bros for bagels and coffee.  While there, we got on the topic of her $45,000 goal again, and began discussing her options for promotions at work vs. looking for another job.  Amanda works on commission and said, “I make, I mean, I don’t know how this year will go with all the changes, it’s to be dete– TBD! TBD!  I make TBD!”  So, of course, we now take every opportunity we get to say, “TBD”.

Once we were all gassed up (heh, heh), we went by the Maya Angelou High School.  Then, we went to see some schools in Oak Cliff and South Dallas, some of which we forgot existed.  When we neared the VA Hospital, we started joking about how we’d be hot commodities in there since we’re young(ish), have jobs, and are relatively healthy.  Then, we came across the Barak Obama Male Leadership Academy, which neither of us had ever heard of before.  Reading up on it, the school is pretty impressive and is definitely in a part of town that really needs this type of empowering education for young boys.

We headed back towards Amanda’s part of town and decided to try Cafe Mexicano.  The bar area stunk like stagnant water, but the rest of the restaurant was fine.  We sat in an area with a bunch of piñatas hanging from the ceiling.  It was about 3 pm on a Tuesday, so the place was dead, which made us feel like the piñatas were hung up to celebrate our presence.

When we finished lunch, we headed across the street for Gigi’s Cupcakes.  We both got chocolate salted caramel cupcakes that we ate there, and I got a wedding cake cupcake to go.  As you may or may not know, wedding cake is not the same as regular cake.  It’s special, and you only get it at weddings.  So, if I see something wedding cake-flavored, I’ve gotta try it.  We were disappointed in the chocolate salted caramel cupcakes.  I love frosting and the salt offset the sweetness a bit, but there was just too much of the sickeningly sweet frosting.  Since we were standing up and eating the cupcakes without utensils, it was difficult to get to the cake itself, which was moist, chocolatey, and filled with caramel.  It was an okay cupcake, but too damn sweet.  I had the wedding cake cupcake later and it was much better.  The frosting had just a hint of sweetness and the cake was rich in texture, but not too dense.  After the cupcakes, Amanda and I headed back to her place to end our Road Trip with a movie marathon of Dune (man, I just could not get into that movie), Madea Gets a Job (funny and true), and Madea Goes To Jail (which we actually ended up watching the following weekend and I forgot that I had already seen it anyway.)

We both had to work the next day.  When I got off work on Wednesday, there was a pretty sunset.  Since we kept joking about missing the sunsets on our Road Trip, I took a picture and texted it to Amanda.

Return to Work Sunset

“I am seeing the sunset.”

She texted back:

Drive-Thru Sunset

“Nothing like the day after vacation.”

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Random Saturdays – Dallas Road Trip Oh Thirteen, pt 1

It seems like Amanda and I are both able to get a few days of vacation at the same time every August.  And by “every August”, I mean “August 2012 and August 2013”.  Last year, we got the idea to take a week off of work to see all of the houses that Charles S. Dilbeck designed.  While on the road trip, we started seeing old Dallas High Schools that we’d never seen before.  So, we joked that our next road trip would be to see old Dallas High Schools.  This year, we kinda sorta did that, but mostly not.  We also read the Best of Big D magazine and made a list of places we’d like to check out some time.  So, it was more like a Stores, Restaurants, and Dallas High Schools Road Trip.

Of course, we started off with a trip to Legal Grounds, which was much more crowded on Sunday morning than it is around 11 am on a random weekday.  It was so crowded that we invited a couple standing near us to sit at our table.  They mentioned preparing to leave in the morning to spend a month in Paris.  Mind you, I had just decided on my Parisian Christmas trip two days earlier.  So, we chatted quite a bit about Paris and travelling in general.

After breakfast, Amanda and I visited Dougherty’s Pharmacy, a local toy store, and The North Haven Gardens.

Not sexist, but racist

When Amanda saw this, she said, “Not sexist, but racist.” Then we alternated laughing and saying, “Ugh, terrible,” as I tried to keep still enough to take a picture.

By the time we finished looking at plants, it was pretty hot outside and I felt like I was going to collapse within the hour.  Amanda didn’t feel like dragging my fat ass dead body around, So, we went to Vickery Park for Sunday brunch.  It ended up being one of our favorite restaurants of the road trip.  We had veggie omelettes and mimosas and enjoyed listening to bands like Alice in Chains (read:  bands that we recognize).  Parking in that area is terrible, so I stood in the middle of the street and motioned to Amanda when it was okay to back up into a break in traffic.  Then, I jumped into the car and we left.  It was pretty exciting.  Afterwards, we checked out some cool shops in the Knox-Henderson area that mostly played music that we didn’t recognize because it came out after 1995.  We ended the evening with dinner at Scalini’s in Lakewood.  Mmm…Scalini’s…wish I were there now…mmm…We were originally thinking that we might get out of the restaurant around sunset, but we were too late.

The next day, we got up “early” to go to IKEA for breakfast, browsing, and shopping.  I tell you what, IKEA on a Monday morning is much more pleasant than IKEA on a Saturday afternoon.  Amanda had been shopping around for bar stools and I had been looking for affordable duvet covers because I’m a cheap broad.  When we were done, the heat had set in on Dallas, so we headed to the dollar movies to see Iron Man 3 again.  After two hours of Robert Downey, Jr., I was feeling like the world was a pretty good place.

Then, I got to my car.  I had bought a candle at IKEA, forgot about it, and left it laying in the sunshiniest spot of the back seat of the car.  So, it melted all over the backseat.  I busted out my collection of paper napkins that I keep in the console of the car and started blotting away.  I think that I actually cleaned all of the wax and scented oil.  I keep checking to see if there is melted/cooled oil or wax on the seat, but haven’t noticed anything yet.  My car doesn’t smell like vanilla anymore either, so I think it’s okay.  At any rate, after the movies, we headed to Rosa’s Cafe in Wylie.  I had never been, but Amanda has a whole story about it.  If you’ve ever been to Panchos or Casa Bonita, it’s like that but a little nicer.  If you’ve never been to either of those, don’t worry because you’re not missing much.

Once I had a belly full of tortillas, I wasn’t as worried about the melted candle in my car.  Amanda and I headed over to Firewheel Mall for dessert, specifically, the Nestle Toll House Cafe for ice cream cookie sandwiches.  I had mentioned the desserts to Amanda before (come to think of it, it was the night we went to see Iron Man 3 at the AMC at Firewheel Mall.  How’s that for full circle mo fos?!)  Between the cheese enchiladas and the ice cream, I was so sick and miserable, but also fat, dumb, and very happy.  We walked across the street to Barnes & Noble to hang out for a bit, and ended up sitting down with our backs to books about pop culture and video games while facing books about religion, spirituality, astrology, and love.  (I’m pretty sure that’s not how the Dewey Decimal System is organized, but whatever.)  Then this teenager dude walked up.

Comic - David 1
Comic - David 2
Comic - David 3
After that, Amanda and I laughed for a good 15 minutes.  Then, we left and drove around for a bit before heading to our respective homes to rest up for the final day of our Road Trip.  We thought that we might be able to see the sunset that day, but we missed it again.

Random Saturdays – The Other Side of the Bridge

Last Sunday was Easter.  The Friday beforehand, I hung out with Amanda, as usual.  We talked about Easter, which naturally led to the discussion of Jesus being a zombie.  As we drove around the same parts of Dallas that we always do, we talked about various types of zombies and how we’d react if we encountered them.  Then, we noticed it was eerily dead for 10 pm on a Friday night.  Granted, we didn’t expect much to happen on the side streets, but the major streets weren’t even busy.  These are the very streets that take people to and from bars and clubs, so there are usually a few cars on them on Friday nights.  This Friday night, however, there were none.  We wondered if there were some kind of Zombie Apocalypse to which we were not privy.

Strangely enough, we saw more people wandering the neighborhoods on foot after 11 pm than we saw cars all night long.  Every side street we turned down had people running, walking their dogs, or just standing around.  In fact, we didn’t just see individuals, or even couples;  there were groups of people wandering around numerous neighborhoods.  People of all ages just walked around these neighborhoods all night long.  Months ago, we made a joke about a crosswalk sign designating a “Wild People Crossing”.  Recalling that sign, we wondered why there were so few cars out and so many wild people wandering the streets.  We chalked it up to zombies and went about our business.

At one point, we ended up in an old part of Dallas, driving down streets we had never been down before.  For anyone who doesn’t know, older parts of Dallas consist of a maze of one-way streets and dead ends.  While exploring one of these streets, we saw a few houses that were in complete disrepair, which led us to a street that seemingly dead-ended at a giant fence.  On the other side of the fence were rows upon rows of discarded bleachers, plastic Longhorn cattle, and whimsical plastic trees.  We both made some profanity-laden comments of wonder and surprise as we slowly drove closer to the objects and realized that we were not imagining this strange graveyard of discarded props.  To our right was an old, low, narrow, cement bridge.  We drove beneath it to find out what was on the other side.

Once there, we found more discarded props.  I suggested that this was the storage place for props used during the State Fair of Texas.  Amanda has never been to the State Fair of Texas even though she was born in, and grew up in, Dallas.  (She also never had a Girl Scout Cookie until this year.  Who knew?)  While I felt comforted that I at least knew the origins of the numerous rows of out of place fair props, Amanda seemed unnerved.  However, we were both still curious, so we continued down the road, pivoting our heads, trying to take in the surreal sights of abandoned ticket booths and rides.  The tiny road with narrow turns suddenly opened onto an expanse of cement with nothing but the Props Graveyard surrounding us on both sides.  We came to a small opening in a fence and Amanda said, “I wonder what’s through here…” as she drove onto a larger road.  We continued driving and were eventually greeted by a giant overpass telling us to “EXIT”.  Arrows directed us to drive under the words in order to exit, but as there were two exit paths, we had to choose one.

We chose the one on the right.

This led to an even wider expanse of cement with no Props Graveyard in sight.  I figured out that this was where the main State Fair parking always is during the fall, but again, this didn’t comfort Amanda at all.  The parking lot was divided down the middle by a train track, enclosed in a wire fence.  We decided to turn around and go back.  After driving past the Props Graveyard, we didn’t know where we were.  I recognized another parking area for the State Fair that is normally open, but was now closed.  Because everything was closed for the year, it was confusing trying to exit places barred with chain fences.  I saw familiar streets all around, but couldn’t figure out how to get to any of them without busting through a fence or off-roading it in Amanda’s Honda Civic.

Lest you think us complete fools, I did look up our location on my iPhone.  This, however, only confirmed our options about fences and off-roading.  Amanda kept driving back and forth along the expansive cement parking lot, growing increasingly desperate with each pass.  Amanda isn’t someone who spooks easily because she has been through quite a bit in life.  She didn’t have the sense of surreal familiarity that I had with the fair grounds, though, since she had never been to this part of Fair Park before.

Big Tex’s skeleton after he caught fire this year. The State Fair mascot had just turned 60.  Prelude of zombie shenanigans to come?

I kept pointing out areas that led to exits during the State Fair, but each one dead-ended.  Eventually, we found ourselves on the dead end behind a residential neighborhood, with no way to cross to the neighborhood streets.  Four or five dogs began racing towards us, barking at the tops of their lungs.  “Oh great,” I said, worried that she would run over an overly-excited dog.  “This is it.  This is how it’s going to end,” said Amanda, convinced that we were going to run out of gas and that the zombie dogs would eat us.  I told her that I had plenty of battery power on my phone and that we would be fine.  Why the hell else did I pay money for a data plan on a phone with GPS?  Ironically, we kept driving past a slew of police cars that were clearly not being used and were on the other side of the fence anyway.

Finally, we decided to drive along the fence.  We got into this crazy Parking Lot Desert somehow, so we just had to find the opening again.  Amanda put her bright lights on and we drove slowly, searching for the opening.  As we neared the end of the fence, our faces plastered to the front window, high beams shining out into the distance, we saw it — the opening.

It was ingenius really, drawing attention from the missing part of the fence by chaining up the parts around it, whcih distracted Amanda and me from seeing the other side.  To tell you about it, it sounds dumb.  How could we miss the opening?  Wouldn’t we have just noticed that the light didn’t reflect off the metal?  Wouldn’t we just see that there is fence and then there isn’t any?  These are questions that would only come from someone who has never driven through old parts of Dallas and has never been to Fair Park.  It’s tricksies.  The fence doesn’t go in a straight line;  it randomly bends and turns upon itself for no apparent reason.  This is how things work in that part of Dallas.

We exited our Cement Desert and found our way back to the run down houses where we started (a few druggies were now standing outside of the dilapidated buildings).  We drove back to the Props Graveyard, The Bridge, The Exit signs, the Cement Desert, and, finally, our opening in the fence.  Now that we knew our way around this strange wonderland, we were relieved to have made it out without running out of gas or being bit by zombie dogs.

On the way back to Amanda’s apartment, we saw numerous people walking their dogs, even though it was nearly 1 am.  On my drive home from Amanda’s, I saw five more people walking around streets and highways where I do not normally see much foot traffic. When the time comes (that’s right, when, not if), I hope all of these wild people and their dogs are ready for the Zombie Apocalypse.  Amanda and I certainly are.