The Dunlops hit the tarmac fifteen hours after they lifted off from Sydney airport, but only half an hour had passed. We had gone back in time, landing in Dallas the same day we left, sleep deprived and confused.
“Well, there’s no other way to put this, folks, it’s HOT!” the flight attendant announced over the PA. It was almost forty degrees celsius on the ground in Dallas, though 100 degrees (farenheit) sounded far more harsh.
“Aauurgh.” I shuddered at the thought.
Not to worry, we had an air-conditioned hire-car waiting for us to take us to our air-conditioned hotel room. It’d be cool.
Plus, I had that feeling I got every time I’d been to the states, that excited, kid-in-a-candy-store feeling like I’d been thrown onto a movie set or something and everything anyone said made me want to giggle.
America. The U.S.A. The states. We watch their movies, listen to their music and eat their food. We’ve had so much exposure to their culture and yet in the few times I have set foot on US soil I marvel at just how different we actually are.
“We’re in Texas!” I said to Tyrhone, his first time on the continent.
He grinned. He was so excited. I almost felt bad we were only staying in Dallas for two days…
Okay. So I may have made a few rookie mistakes in the planning of this leg of the trip. I may not have completed the compulsory visa waiver forms online before we flew out. Not to worry, Sydney airport had a wonderful wrought, I mean service, available for us to pour money into in return for a sheet of paper that clarifies we DO NOT need a visa.
Hmm, sounds a little like a visa…
I may have been so taken with the sparkling personality of our car-rental attendant in Dallas that I didn’t bother to ask how much that standard insurance was on the car I thought we were paying $60 for.
Again, not to worry, a simple glance at the receipt I held in my hand as we flew along the 181 or the 162 or whatever the hell freeway we were going the wrong way on clarified things for me.
$174!!!!!!! Geez, that insurance must be really good…
Hostelbookers may or may not, no wait, DEFINITELY gave the wrong directions to our hotel which took us THREE HOURS to find in a jet-lagged, frustrated stupor.
The reception clerk may or may not have given a shit.
We did, however, get to experience the friendliness of the Texan people in some unlikely places. Though we weren’t in the mood for pancakes, the staff at IHOP, Irving, Texas drew us a lovely yet indecipherable map to Hostelbooker’s mystery hotel (we hadn’t realised they were wrong yet). At an ‘Animal Adoption Centre’ on the outskirts of Dallas we had the vets neglecting the needs of mistreated animals in order to google-map our destination for us.
Those pets weren’t the only lives they saved that day.
We did eventually find it, and managed to drag ourselves to a local branch of the “Texan Roadhouse” chain for dinner that served ‘Legendary margaritas and fall-off-the-bone-ribs’.
Tyrhone was in heaven. Despite the day’s misadventures, he decidedly loved Texas and couldn’t wipe the grin off his barbeque sauce-smeared face.
I liked it too, but as I rolled home with a belly full of buffalo wings, pulled pork and sweetened bread rolls, I knew that we couldn’t stay here long without becoming the size of houses.
Maybe two nights in Dallas would be enough.
We began the next day at the Fort Worth Stockyards. Jet lag had us up and out early, and we wandered around the ‘Wild West’ (a few restored streets near the historic cattle yards) before anything was open. It was a tourist trap, but we loved it, especially the cars with huge bull-horns on the bumpers parked along the street.
Not especially keen on tackling downtown Fort Worth in peak hour, we headed north to check out one of the many great lakes we had seen on the map of Texas.
We drove about twenty-five miles to Lewisville lake, a huge body of water just off the freeway. The breeze off the water was a welcome relief from the ‘almost record temperature’ heat of the day. Birds with long beaks wet their skinny legs in the water. A couple floated along on a bright pink inflated li-lo in the roped off swimming area.
“Are there crocs here?” asked Tyrhone, gingerly stepping backwards from the shore-line.
“I think they call them ‘Gaitors,” I replied in a bad southern-accent, entirely unhelpful. I didn’t think so, but didn’t want to be blamed for providing wrong information.
We headed for Dallas, my jet-lag really kicking in. It didn’t help that we were flying along five lane highways on the other side of the road. I put my sweaty palms and racing heart down to the fact that I was on the right hand side of the car without a steering wheel. A control freak’s worst nightmare.
Plus, I was navigating, something I seem to do a lot of considering HOW MUCH I HATE IT. I mean, I’m happy to give a few tips, but I’m a firm believer in the driver making the final call.
But every time the highway was about to split in half in opposite directions (it happened a lot), the conversation went like this:
T: “Which way?”
S: “I… don’t know!” (freaking out)
T: “Well pick one!”
S: “I can’t”
T: “You have to!”
T: “Which way?!”
S: eeny meeny miney mo… “Left!!”
It was horrible. By the time we got to Dallas, I could have kissed the ground if it wasn’t so hot.
We ducked into a diner-style restaurant in the heart of the CBD for lunch. After the previous evening’s over-indulgence, I went for a spinach salad with blue cheese. I love the way they chuck blue cheese on everything here, and it was delicious (but so huge I couldn’t finish it).
Tyrhone was still on a processed-food bender, and in the name of new experiences, ordered his first chilli-dog.
We definitely couldn’t live here. He’d be dead within the week.
Afterwards, we wandered around the city for a while, Tyrhone snapping away with the camera, completely oblivious to my rising anxiety about the drive home.
Pretty Dallas sky-scrapers
“I love it here!” he said for the fiftieth time that day. “I think this is the coolest place I’ve ever been!”
Seriously?! I mean, it’s pretty cool, but the best place you’ve been?! I thought to myself.
“Really?” was all I said.
Our visit to Dallas was cut short when we inadvertently drove onto another mega-highway. Thankfully it was the one bound for the hotel. Of course we still got lost, but less so than before.
As we pulled up to the hotel, Tyrhone suggested going to grab a drink from the shop.
“Nope,” I said, putting my foot down. “Not me, let me out here, my nerves are shot.”
I was done. I collapsed into bed and slept for five hours.
Not the best idea for trying to get into the local time zone, but I really needed it. Hence why I’m here typing away to you at 130am! Thankfully our flight to Cancun doesn’t leave till 11am.
We will be allowing at least an hour to make the five-mile journey along the evil highway, which we will inevitably get lost on.
Apart from the jet-lag, highway anxiety and unexpected rip-offs, Texas has actually been pretty cool. Friendly people, cowboys and lots of fried food, marinated in spices from across the border, which has made me even more excited that tomorrow we’ll actually be there.
Hopefully I can get some sleep between now and then, but then there’s always siesta time…