Unexpected. As mundane as this statement sounds, this is how I would explain my stay after three days in Dallas. From the miles of wildflowers blanketing the landscape, to the droves of tarantulas that made their nightly parade across the streets of our campground, there was nothing here in Dallas that I could have predicted.
I would say we really lucked out because the temperature was near 90 everyday with the same in humidity to match, but the cloud cover made it much more comfortable. We also visited before the mosquitoes got too rowdy which is more than I can say for the chiggers. Oh, how they love my poor son. Thank heaven for Chiggerex and Benadryl! Cedar Hill State Park is where our beloved Buttercup rested her weary bones for a few days while hubby worked and we roadschooled and played.
Wildlife was abundant even though the park is trying to recover from the devastating floods over the past winter. We saw roadrunners, jackrabbits, white egrets and tarantulas. Yes, the furry little eight legged critters were abundant in the park and you didn’t have to wait long to see them. You could set your clock to their nightly grand entrance at 7:30. For a reason that is unknown to me (and apparently the park ranger we spoke to) they like to travel down the roads at sunset. I would have to say my theory lies somewhere in between a better chance to catch dinner as it crosses the road (that’s bugs not people) and some sick tarantulas sense of humor shared among the species to scare the living daylights out of campers. There is NO amount of money you could pay me to sleep in a tent amongst the nests of these critters. They are everywhere and they live in burrows underground. Chances are your tent will be resting on one of those hairy mama’s dens and they will be none too pleased! Over three nights we found 26 tarantulas on there nightly prowl to feed and terrorize!
We also set out to find what interesting happenings we could find downtown. Being the thrifty traveler that I am, I was looking for free and educational choices that would please my pint-sized crowd. I was on my way to a historical park with a playground when I took a wrong turn (Downtown Dallas is in a perpetual state of road construction that poor old Siri just can’t keep up with) and found myself quite literally in the parking lot of the Sixth Floor Museum. You know, the infamous Texas School Book Depository building which hid the most infamous assassin in the modern age on its sixth floor. Oh I’m sorry, this will not be a review of that museum although I’m sure it’s fascinating and review worthy. The ticket price for a group of four broke the $50 mark and I couldn’t bare to splurge for that when only half the group could read and the other half should be sheltered for the time being about the intricate details of such horrible realities. Instead, I got creative and was sure that the “grassy knoll” couldn’t be far and it had to be free. I mean how can you monetize a grass hill. Well, I’m sure it can be done but lucky for us this so far has not been in the city’s grand plans to make a buck. Right beyond the parking lot and across the street, there it was beckoning to be lunched on and photographed. So, that’s what we did and it was lovely and FREE! We also roamed and read and asked questions about that fateful day. It was amazing to me how many people were there on a spring Monday clambering to get their selfie of the “X” on Elm Street. Still today 53 years later the event of JFK’s assassination captivates the American public just like it did my littles and me.
The next day we visited the Dallas Heritage Village downtown. It was an amazing collection of properties that were either moved into this area or completely deconstructed and built again on the property. Periods featured ranged from before the Civil War to a little after the turn of the 20th century. The town had a church, school, doctors office, general store, a working kiln, a train station, and numerous houses depicting life for the wealthy, middle class and farming communities.
We were so lucky as to arrive as the school field trips were leaving so we had the whole town vitually to ourselves. We had a private tour of the working farm house by a docent and were permitted in areas like the kitchen and the attic bedroom that not all visitors get to see. They were able to try on a milking yoke and after the reason you wear it was explained, they were much more thankful they weren’t born on a dairy farm in 1860. I was in awe of how enthusiastic the kids were. They loved going into these historic structures and hearing what life used to be like. But the highlight was probably Nip and Tuck, the resident donkeys. They were so sweet and we walked right up to them and pet their noses and fed them hay. The girls were enamored.
We did all this but didn’t get to make it by the famed home that put Dallas on the map in the 1980’s. I still remember the hype about “Who shot J.R.”. My parents even had a party to celebrate the season finale. Well I guess we’ll just have to save that little nugget for another trip.