This past March, Scott had to cancel a flight to join me in visiting my sister, Emily and Jonathan in DC and had credit towards a flight to use by the end of 2014. Since his inability to travel with me was a huge disappointment there was no way I was going to give up that money towards another trip. Slightly flawed logic since we had to spend money to save money but whatever. The cheapest flight I could find in the warmest location for December was Dallas. I'll be the first to admit I wasn't extremely excited to choose Dallas because both of us had previously been to Dallas for work and nothing at the time made us think we should return.
I have since changed my mind about the Dallas metro area. Not counting travel days, we had a full 48 hours exploring several sections of the city (we walked a total of 33 miles). While I know that 99% of the population would not attempt to walk our route, it was a fun adventure to walk from one cute neighborhood to another even if it involved walking along expressways!
Thursday, December 11, 2014
This was a travel day. The only glitch in our plan was that the car sharing service we were going to use to get to the Light Rail station had a system-wide disruption of service at the exact time we were trying to use a car. I'm again thankful that we live close to several bus stops with a variety of bus lines and we were able to take the bus to the light rail.
We arrived at the airport in plenty of time and security was a breeze. We even had time to eat at Axel's Bonfire before boarding the plane. Thankfully there were no delays and arrived in Dallas on time.
We rented a car because the taxi fare to and from the AirBNB guesthouse would have cost us more than it was to have a care for four days. Our little Toyota Yaris was definitely economy class - Scott didn't know how to roll down the window because it was manual!
Arriving in Dallas at night was fun because man that city loves to light up their buildings and signs. I am fairly confident we saw a replica of the White House next to David McDavid's car dealership but I could have been imagining things.
The guesthouse where we stayed is in Highland Park which is four miles north of downtown Dallas. We chose this location because of its proximity to Katy Trail, a 3.5 mile trail connected us to downtown Dallas.
Friday, December 12, 2014
We started the day by talking with one of the owners of the home and getting a lay of the land. Scott also played with their yellow labrador, Sophie. Though the forecast called for rain, we set off on foot with the hope of walking the entire day. Our first mission was coffee and breakfast. True to most trips I've taken to cities new to me, we didn't take the best route. We first headed to the closest Starbucks in the Highland Park Village. In the future, I need to remember that I hate Starbucks iced coffee. We then chose a breakfast joint near Southern Methodist University without fully realizing that the route would be along an expressway or freeway or interstate or whatever they are called in Dallas.
Cafe Brazil gets a lot of great reviews but we didn't realize it is a local chain and we likely chose the worst location. Oh well, the food and coffee were great.
We then caught a DART train at the Lovers Lane station! We took the red line to the Pearl/Arts District station and walked to the Nasher Sculpture Center. The featured exhibit was Provocations: The Architecture and Design of Heatherwick Studio. Scott and I both agree that sitting in the Spun chair was worth the price of admission! The exhibit also inspired a few travel wish list items and I hope the Garden Bridge in London becomes a reality.
The weather continued to cooperate so we hit the trails and headed north towards the guest house. We discovered Turtle Creek Trail near Katy Trail and there really are turtles hanging out near the creek! Scott met a furry buddy along the way - a black labradoodle.
After a quick rest, we went to the NorthPark Center which was developed by Raymond D. Nasher so its architecture and art is worth a visit. In hindsight I wish I had spent more time looking around but being inside when it's so warm outside is painful as a Minnesotan in December.
On to our next cultural experience - Total Wine and Spirit. Our intent was simply to buy a few beers for the guest house but we were met with the craziest parking lot experience we've ever had. There was a traffic control person which isn't odd but she was yelling the entire time and we could hear her inside the store and blocks away after leaving.
On our way to happy hour, we drove to White Rock Creek Trail and walked during sunset.
We met my college friend and roommate, Karly at World of Beer and it was so great to see her and catch up. I haven't seen her for nearly 15 years and we were both the same and different. Seeing her was a bit jarring because she brought up memories that I can't recall further cementing my belief that I have a below average memory. It is a bit distressing and why I like having a 365 photo project and a blog to read later.
Karly had a work holiday party so we parted ways and Scott and I went to Gloria's and ordered from the Tex Mex section of the menu even though the ambiance should have told us to go for the Latin American dishes.
All in all it was a great day and we walked 9.71 miles!
Saturday, December 13, 2014
We couldn't have asked for better walking conditions for our second and last full day in Dallas. It was sunny and in the low 70s for temps. It was wonderful to walk without a jacket and Scott wished he brought shorts! We started our walk on the Katy Trail and exited for breakfast at Lucky's Cafe.
We made our way back to Katy Trail and continued toward downtown. Along the way, I took note of some trail features I think Minneapolis could emulate. There were look-out decks, residential buildings that marketed the benefits of living on the trail, and multiple restaurant/pubs on the trail.
When we reached the American Airlines Stadium, we were at the end of the Katy Trail and we began our urban Dallas hike. There were many points I stopped to appreciate Scott's willingness to walk through less than desirable parts of cities with me. Most people do not consider walking through run-down industrial and residential neighborhoods a great way to spend a lovely day outside. Though I wouldn't want to spend all of our miles walking through broken glass, I do like to experience all sides of a city - from well-groomed trails to questionably safe sidewalks along a freeway.
While we didn't plan it, our walk led us to The Sixth Floor Museum and the site of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. We opted for the walking tour instead of going into the museum. If we return to Dallas, I'll be sure to go through the museum.
We continued our walk to the Bishop Arts District where we planned to stop for lunch at Lockhart's Smokehouse. This stretch was most definitely not a typical walk route. It was fun to see different neighborhoods and housing styles. One of the biggest differences is that most homes do not have garages. No need since they don't have harsh winters, I guess.
It turns out that all of the restaurants I wanted to try were in the Bishop Arts District. Again, if we are ever in Dallas again, I'll want to spend more time in this neighborhood. We ate lunch at Lockhart Smokehouse so we could enjoy some Texas BBQ. It was one of the best decisions of the day. After lunch, we walked around the market and bought a couple of t-shirts. Oh and of course took photos of dogs like crazy people.
We continued our journey northbound for Deep Ellum with another pass through downtown. This time we crossed the Trinity River via the Jefferson Viaduct Boulevard which basically felt like walking on a deserted interstate. End of days feeling as no one was around us.
When we reached downtown, we walked through the Dallas Marathon start and/or finish. It was all blocked off so we couldn't see a large section of downtown which seemed odd to me but maybe Minneapolis/St. Paul does this too? I guess the strangest thing for this Northerner is the thought of running a marathon in December.
I like to check out public libraries during our travels and I'm so glad we stopped by the J Erik Jonsson Central Library. It seems they have quite a bit of programming for the homeless. In addition to an urban photography exhibit, they also had a volunteer with a pet therapy program taking Mackie around to people who were relaxing in the library.
We kept walking to our next stop - Deep Ellum Brewing Company and along the way we discovered that Deep Ellum is another cool section of Dallas worthy of a longer visit.
Next we walked through the Baylor University Medical Center on our way to Carnival Barkers at Truck Yard in Lower Greenville.
After our ice cream stop, we headed back to Katy Trail so that we could stop for a drink and food at the Katy Trail Ice House.
Near the end of our 23 mile walk, we found a spectacular Christmas display including a giant Santa climbing the columns.
Sunday, December 14, 2014
We left the guest house bright and early for our 8:00 AM flight. We were so happy to have most of Sunday to relax and get ready for our week. It's a good thing because that evening I'd learn that my last living grandparent, Grandma Mary as I call her, died. More on that in my December recap.
The Nivens Family