We had 7 hours layover at Dallas airport, so we decided to go to visit Dallas downtown. The transportation we took turned out to be quite lengthy, but cheap:
1. take airport bus to terminal A19 (free of charge)
2. from terminal A19 take Dart yellow bus to Belt Line rail station - 5USD per person
3. from Belt Line station take the train to downtown Dallas - Local Day Pass is 5USD and is good for 24h. It is valid for the yellow Dart buses too.
4. Get of at West End station and enjoy Dallas.
Travel time is more than an hour.
There are signs all over Downtown pointing to locations of interest and it is very easy to get around by walk.
The Texas highway commission have built some of the nicest rest areas and visitor centers in the U.S.. They are well maintained and most are full of information.
The structures hearken back to the history or natural state of the place where they are placed
Fondest memory: We stopped outside Amarillo on my first visit back to Texas with my wife. Barbara was blown away by the huge amount of information on what there is to do in Texas. She also began to get a feel for how large a place it is.
In 1691, a group of Spanish explorers and missionaries arrived at a small American Indian settlement on a river. It was June 13, the feast day of Saint Anthony of Padova, and the group named the river San Antonio.
In 1716, Spain's Council of War approved a site on the San Antonio River for the construction of a fort and Roman Catholic mission. The fort and mission were named San Antonio. Over the next few decades, the settlement slowly grew, and the location of the fort and mission changed several times. San Antonio eventually became the largest settlement in the northern part of the Spanish territories, and became the capital of the Spanish, and then the Mexican, province of Tejas.
In 1821, Mexico gained its independence from Spain. The Mexican government invited American settlers into Tejas to help populate what was essentially an empty province. Over the next few years, the anglos outnumbered the Mexicans.
Mexican dictator, General Antonio López de Santa Anna, unilaterally rescinded the Mexican constitution in 1824. This led to widespread revolts in most Mexican provinces, including Tejas. The anglos, who were beginning to call themselves Texians, took San Antonio by force. After putting down violence in other Mexican provinces, General Santa Anna marched on San Antonio in March 1836. Most Texians fled, but a small volunteer group occupied the Alamo in order to hold off the Mexican Army. These volunteers were fighting for a democratic government under the Mexican constitution. However, during the seige, the Texas Congress declared the independent Republic of Texas. The outnumbered volunteers at the Alamo could not hold off the superior numbers of the Mexican Army, and the Alamo fell on March 6. This energized the Texians, who eventually defeated General Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto in April 1836.
Texas remained an independent nation until 1845, when it was annexed as a state by the United States. By 1860, the population of San Antonio had grown to 15,000. At about this time, San Antonio became the center of the Texas cattle culture. Major cattle trails, including the famous Chisholm Trail, originated in San Antonio.
San Antonio had always been on the frontier. But the railroad arrived in 1877, bringing modernization and more settlers.
San Antonio eventully grew into the second-largest city in Texas, and nowdays is the center of a metropolitan area with about 2,040,000 inhabitants.
Favorite thing: I have no idea if this was unusual but I spotted an armadillo crossing the street after midnight on a side street near downtown Austin. He was so cute, waddling along with his tail sticking out behind him. It surprised me that he had some sticky-outy fur on his armor. I only wish I'd had my camera ready.
Favorite thing: Texas is a very very large place and at times occupying about 1/3 of the width of the USA! so when it is snowing in the north, it could be sweltering hot down south on the border with mexico. it is better to look for the weather in the city you are interested in. In Wichita Falls it might be 14 C top temperature for the day whereas in Eagle Pass Texas it might be 24 C.. that is just in winter..
"The bluebonnet is to Texas what the shamrock is to Ireland, the cherry blossom is to Japan, the lily to France, the rose to England and the tulip to Holland". (quote by historian Jack Maguire)
I've been wanting to see a bluebonnet in its natural setting since we moved to Texas last year. Bluebonnets bloom in the early Spring and only grow naturally in Texas. There are five species.
There was alot of discussion in the early 1900's about which floral emblem should be selected for the state flower of Texas. Finally, in 1901 the National Society of Colonial Dames of America persuaded the Texas Legislature to choose the LUPINAS SUBCARNOSUS (commonly known as buffalo clover or bluebonnet).
However, there are four other subgroups of bluebonnets. After much discussion over the span of 70 years, the legislature decided to include ALL bluebonnets as the state flower. Call it a politically correct decision, but a decision it was.
*This information came from: http://plantanswers.tamu.edu/flowers/bluebonnet/bluebonnetstory.html
When it comes to Texas, less is more. If you go, make sure to put Austin and San Antonio on your list of "to do's". Austin is very hip, music, lots of shopping eating and drinking, Texas "we luv ya, come on back y'all" and lots of great restaurants and shops, music and everything fun.
San Antonio is very romantic, fun and laid back with lots of beautiful people. Skip the Dallas and Houston big hair too much botox. These are the two cities worth spending time in. Oh yea, check out "Keep Texas Beautiful". They will cater to your every need.
Woooooo whoooooooooo texas is happen-in!
Favorite thing: There are markers scattered throughout the United States along the US Highways and other roads. They provide insight about the history of the local area. An interesting stop for history buffs. This historical marker is just outside Newcastle, Texas, and talks about Peter Harmonson one of the original settlers in the area.
It's May now in Texas and these pretty orange and yellow flowers are blooming along the roadside just about everywhere in the Metroplex area, blossoming from May-September.
They're called Indian Blanket Flowers and they grow to a range of 4 -24 inches tall. The colorful blooms can be 1 to 3 inches across. It's officially known as gaillardia pulchella.
When I first saw these wildflowers, they reminded me of those we used to have growing in our garden in Pennsylvania. Sure enough, as I was gathering information on them I found that they were related.
I like this bright wildflower because it's so cheery in appearance.
FYI: Indian Blanket is the state flower of Kansas
Another wildflower that makes an appearance in the Spring in the Coastal Plain and the eastern half of Texas is the Indian Paintbrush. I think its so pretty! (Be sure to click on the additional photo for a field of flowers!)
It appears at the same time as the Texas Bluebonnet, but there can be years where the bluebonnets flourish and the paintbrushes have a mediocre year. Bloom time is from early March, peaking mid-April.
It's official name is CASTILLEJA INDIVISA and is a relative of the snapdragon. The bright color comes from 'bracts' not flower petals. These bracts are around and under inconspicuous flowers located on the upper third of the plant.
This plant likes open, sunny sites. It may also require a cold wet period in the winter in order to germinate. There are nine species native to Texas and can be seen in orangish-red and sometimes even yellow.
This information came from The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Favorite thing: The state of Texas is second only to Alaska for sheer size, so glancing at a state map will be misleading for judging distances between cities. It shares borders with Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and also a long international border with Mexico along the Rio Grande. It also had access to the Gulf of Mexico, home to a lot of hurricanes.
Fort Worth, Dallas, staying at the authentic Stockyards Hotel, and watching the cattle drive and rodeo!
Fondest memory: Texas - probably the most interesting and fun state that we have been to. The people were really friendly and we really enjoyed it. Great to see them all in their cowboy hats and boots, and the rodeo was really exciting ! We started off in Fortworth, where we stayed at the historical Stockyards area in the Stockyards Hotel. A really authentic hotel, very interesting, and we had a room done out in Indian style, named after Jeronimo. The restaurant was done out in saloon style with saddle seats at the bar, and various animal heads, amongst many other things, emerging from the walls. We saw a cattle drive while we were there, and visited Billy Bob’s, the biggest `Honky Tonk’ in the world. It held bars, dance floors, gaming tables, bull riding, etc, etc. John Wayne’s widow had been there only two days before with her two granddaughters, and J R (Larry Hagman) had been there the previous week! The eating places were superb and we had never eaten such enormous ribs. Our eyes nearly popped out of our heads when we saw them!
We stayed in Fortworth for two nights and then moved on to Amarillo. In Amarillo we stayed in a Texan ranch style place, and the eating place was a huge saloon show bar type of place with balconies. One man who was there took up the challenge of eating a 72 oz steak with all the trimmings in one hour!!! I don’t think he ate half of it!
We spent New Year El Paso which had a very Mexican feel to it. We were on the Rio Grande (John Wayne land), on the border of Mexico, followed by San Antonio, where the Battle of Alamo took place. Lots to see here. On our way back to Dallas, it was lovely to drive through and stop at some of the small towns. So much character and charm. One place we stopped at to eat, you could almost imagine the old days when strangers rode into town. As soon as we opened the door, everyone just stopped and stared! One old guy in his cowboy hat looked as if he was ready to shoot us - maybe we have watched too many westerns, ha!!!
Fondest memory: Hmmmm....Looks pretty darn flat to me!! Most parts of Texas look like this, some parts even flatter!! The Austin area, however does have a few rolling hills. Although the land is flat, it can be pretty at times.
I have really enjoyed searching out the wildflowers of Texas. As I drove along the backroads of Southlake, Texas I discovered this patch of Rose Mallow or Lavatera Trimestris.
Although a native to Europe, this flower has become naturalized in the southeastern United States. It grows in shades of white and rose, but I just love this pastel pink color.
Rose Mallow seems to grow in all types of soil and in full sun or partial shade. The blooms can grow to four inches across, but the complex root system makes it difficult to transplant.
Some people are able to grow them along walls or fences and in mass plantings. They bloom between June-September. I found them in the Spring!
Thanks to the efforts of Lady Bird Johnson, the wildflowers of Texas are widespread and deeply appreciated!
Fondest memory: The flag was adopted as the state flag when Texas became the 28th state in 1845. As with the flag of the United States, the blue stands for loyalty, the white represents strength, and the red is for bravery.
The hotel was nice and so was the staff. They fixed a problem with our door within 5 minutes and...more
From the moment I arrived at the hotel from IAH, people and staff couldnt be friendly enough. I was...more
The hotel is nicely situated near a little lake where you can walk a bit, and it's not far from...more