Goodbye Texas

It’s time to say goodbye to Texas! And, yes, there will be (& has been) tears. 😥 sads

 

Almost 2 years ago now, my husband was made an offer to work in the USA for 12 months. What an opportunity – we could live in Texas, experience a new culture, do something different for a while and maybe have the odd adventure or two! We have now lived in Texas for 19 months and it has prematurely and abruptly come to an end.

Although this is a very sad turn of events – I think I recognised myself passing through most of the acknowledged stages of grief with anger and depression featuring strongly – I have now moved into acceptance and am trying to move past my sadness and bitterness and appreciate all the wonderful experiences I have had whilst here in the US; things I would not have done otherwise.

It wasn’t easy at the start, but I managed to make a life here and I have meet some amazing people; some will be friends for life!

Living in the North Texas town of Sherman, we have tried to experience as much of Texas (and Texoma) as we could, and also explore further afield when we could. There have been so many wonderful experiences. I was going to list our experiences here – but I now realise that we have done so much, it’s way too much to mention it all.

We have had opportunity to visit quite a few of the local sights and have enjoyed the uniquely Texan experiences of shooting rifles and pistols both at a gun range and on a ranch.

Cate_shooting

Other places we have visited in Texas are Fort Worth (where we saw the longhorn drive),

Cattle drive at Fort Worth Stock Yards

Cattle drive at Fort Worth Stock Yards

Texarkana, San Antonio – the Alamo and it’s wonderful riverwalk,

Riverwalk-view_from-bridgeWichita Falls, and the Texas hill country town of Fredericksburg. I also managed to get to visit Houston.

With Dallas being so close we managed to see most of the major touristy sites. We visited Dealey Plaza and the Book Repository, took a look at Old Red museum, checked out the DMA, enjoyed a visit to the Dallas Aquarium, took in the view from the top of Reunion Tower and enjoyed several visits to the Arboretum (one of my favourite places).

 

arboretum

There is so much to do in Dallas – make sure you visit some time!

We also enjoyed the very unique experience of visiting the Texas State Fair.

BigTex

In addition we also caught a couple of Baseball games at Arlington.

Cate_baseball

Besides Texas though, I have had the privilege of visiting another 13 states! Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, Washington, California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Iowa and New York.

Some highlights:

View from the Space Needle, Seattle, Washington

View from the Space Needle, Seattle, Washington

The Grand Canyon, Arizona

The Grand Canyon, Arizona

Monument Valley, Utah

Monument Valley, Utah

Statue of Liberty, NY

Statue of Liberty, NY

Beale Street, Memphis, Tennesee

Beale Street, Memphis, Tennesee

Rio Grande Gorge Bridge

Rio Grande Gorge Bridge – New Mexico

I had no desire to visit the USA before coming here ,but I have a new appreciation of America and it’s people. Texas in particular will always have a place in my heart.  💕💕

I hope I can come back one day!

 

24hrs in Dallas

Just a quick post about our trip to Dallas last weekend. We visited a park, an Art Museum, an underground restaurant, the Farmers Market and the Arboretum.

So, although not the best weekend – overcast and rainy – we headed to Dallas for a quick break.

Klyde Warren Park

Klyde Warren Park

After checking in at The Fairmont in the Dallas Arts District we headed off to check out Klyde Warren Park (had heard a bit about it and it is ranked No. 6 in TripAdvisor’s list of things to see/do in Dallas). It is a 5-acre green space built over the Woodall Rodgers Freeway in the middle of the ‘concrete jungle’ of Downtown Dallas. I didn’t think this was anything too flash (there wasn’t too much going on when we were there), but I am sure it would be great in summer or on any lovely sunny day. A nice spot to relax, for the kids to play, listen to music, dine or even exercise the dog.

Following on from the park, just across the road, we took a look at some of the exhibits at the Dallas Museum of Art. Not just art, but ancient pottery and gold, sculptures, etc. It is an interesting place (we enjoyed it) and a really good way to spend an hour or two (particularly on a wet, bleak afternoon), and it’s free!

Dakotas

Dakotas Steakhouse – looking outside

Saturday night, we went to Dakota’s Steakhouse, a great underground restaurant just about 100 metres from our hotel – a wonderful find! Take the elevator from street level down to the delightful, somewhat upmarket restaurant that is completely underground. The history of why this is so is very interesting – it has to do with the church – read about it here. Part of the restaurant is open to the elements with a lovely garden, and waterfall fountain, which is lit up at night. This would be fabulous in summer when the doors are open and the roof is retracted. The complimentary bread served with balsamic olive oil was delicious and the pre-dinner cocktails were yummo! Dinner was divine (we both had the fillet steak) – I have not had a bad steak yet in Texas, and this was one of the best; the sides were equally great. Don’t miss this place if ever you are in Dallas – it’s a bit pricey, but really good!

The Dallas Farmers Markets were something we had heard a bit about and were told that they were great – so we took ourselves off to see them Sunday morning, walking across the city, figuring parking might be difficult. Since Dallas is a large city with a population of more than 1 million, I was anticipating something like the produce section of the Queen Victoria market in Melbourne (if you have been there, you will know they are fantastic). Unfortunately, I was disappointed – there was only one shed, consisting mainly of fruit and vegetable vendors and granted, they were very good, but even Newcastle Farmers Markets could out-do what Dallas offered.

Our final stop was at the Dallas Arboretum where we spent the afternoon before driving home. The sun came out and it was a spectacular afternoon. With Spring having sprung, the Dallas blooms were stunning. The tulips, daffodils and hyacinths provided a feast for the senses – the scent was heavenly and the colours provided a visual feast. This was our second trip to the Dallas Arboretum and it is definitely worth the trip and it is beautiful at any time of the year.

Hyacinths at The Arboretum

Hyacinths at The Arboretum

Texas Longhorn!

Texas Longhorn at Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens

Pride and Patriotism

Today I went to see the movie American Sniper. Not what I had originally planned to see today, but one I had wanted to see anyway. American Sniper is a Clint Eastwood produced movie based on the autobiographical novel by US Navy SEAL Chris Kyle (attributed as being the most lethal sniper in American military history). Chris Kyle was a Texan and started out as a cowboy and professional Rodeo rider before joining the military. I thought I would see this largely to improve my understanding of America, their gun culture and their seeming obsession with all things military. Watch the trailer.

Ok, so it is essentially a war movie. I hate war and violence at the best of times and I have a hard time understanding it. I am no film critic, nor professional movie reviewer, so I don’t really want to do a review, but I will say it is a very American film and very patriotic. Overall, I liked American Sniper and would recommend it. I’d give it 3.5 stars out of 5. And Bradley Coopers acting was excellent.

American Flag

American Flag

What it led me to was thinking about the Americans pride in their country and in their military personnel. I have noticed this on many occasions before. There is a great deal of respect and admiration directed towards anyone who has served (or is currently serving) in the military. You see it everywhere, everyday. Service men and women are offered discounts in most stores and preferential treatment at things like tourist attractions. I have actually witnessed military veterans being pulled to the front of a large queue, jumping many places because they are identified as having served their country (and most do not complain). They also get customised number plates on their cars, specialised caps, etc. Generally, they are well treated.

The level of patriotism in the US, on the whole, is supreme to anything I have seen anywhere else. Australians are very proud of their country, I can attest to that, and I am very proud of where I come from, but it is not like what I have seen here. National pride is overwhelming, particularly on days like Veterans Day and 4th of July, where I have seen virtually every house in a street with an American flag planted in their front yard. Patriotism is evident in the number of flags flying from buildings, painted on cars, printed on T-shirts or planted in suburban yards.

Texas flag

Texas flag

Aside from an immense national pride, Texans have great pride in their state; beyond anything I have seen Aussie states exhibit. Besides flying the national flag, the state flag of Texas is flown just as often, if not more! (How many Aussies can recall their state flag)? I partly attribute this to the simplicity of the Texan flag – it is easy to recreate and doesn’t have a coat of arms on it. And Texas is big, I think some amount of pride comes from that too.

Texans are also very Christian, very friendly, polite and show a good deal of respect. We mostly get addressed as ma’am and sir wherever we go, and although it took a bit of getting used to, I think I will miss it when I go home. All of these characteristics are endearing features – I have come to really like Texas and the people that I have met here, even though Texans have a reputation as being a bit “red-necked”, gun-toting, big-hat-wearing cowboys. Even though it will never replace the love I have of my home, Australia, Texas has won a little part of my heart!

Heart Texas

Love Texas