Saturday 21st March
We moved on north heading for Arlington taking the 183 up through Lockhart and around Austin. Finally getting onto the I-35 to Arlington. It was hard going most of the way because of the amount of road works. We found our KOA RV park on S Cooper the US-157. It has a tiny unspecific entrance with an old fashioned Spanish style building frontage. This park was tucked away in the middle of town and had apparently been here since the 1940's. Our site was in a good location near to the Rest Rooms, laundry and opposite the dog run area. As parks go so far this was quite good for dogs, with an off the leash area of a reasonable size, one for large dogs and one for little pouches.
Sunday 22nd March
In 1980 we had come to this area to visit our friends Chris and David who lived in a town called Mansfield about eight miles from where we were. This afternoon we turned right out of the RV park onto Cooper and followed the road south to Mansfield. We found the address in Mansfield of where they had lived and nonchalantly took some pictures of the street and house they had lived in, hoping no one had spotted the weirdos taking pictures of their street. We than went off to find down town Mansfield where we had fond memories of having a cowboy breakfast in one of the cafe's and seemed to remember wooden sidewalks and historic buildings. Down the road past the park and over the level crossing but no, we thought we were heading out of town and didn't recognise anywhere (well it was 35 years ago) so we turned back and went to the local Walmart. Here we did a bit of shopping and went to customer services to ask if anyone could direct us to Mansfield town centre, blank looks all around. A few suggestions were put forward but nothing concrete. We went back to the RV park and I sent Chris and Dave the photos and news that we couldn't find the town centre.
Monday 23rd March
Woke early and got the RV prepared. We were going back to Alvarado to have a few things done on the RV. The route in the SatNav took us through Mansfield on a different route from the previous day, and guess what, we found Main Street and down town. Anyway for the moment we needed to forge a head to Alerardo and MHS. On arrival we wended our way around the huge site and parked in the servicing area. On enquiry it seemed there was no record of us being booked in, however in the MHS way they quickly overcame that problem and sorted us out. Glynn Plumley introduced himself and made a note of the issues that needed to be resolved. We got talking and he said his lineage was from the UK and we got onto heritage trails which Tony has done a lot of work on. We speculated that he could be related to Roy Plumley the inventor of Desert Island Discs. Anyway, back to the plot, we mentioned that on three occasions we had had scary moments when the RV swayed from side to side and was difficult to control. We thought that tyre pressure and balancing might need to be checked. They recommended us to Ware's Tire Service in Alvarado, 'ask for Charlie and say PJ sent ya'. Dutifully, we put Ware's in the SatNav and went forth. We were taken down narrow country lanes across rural Alverado, an area we had not explored before. There was a mixture of pleasant country houses with green fields and cattle and horses grazing, opposed to the odd wooden house with all sorts of rusty junk around it. On the way in the fields we saw cattle, horses, donkey's and lamas. At one point I spotted a horse tethered outside someone's front door standing on the porch, just visiting. Eventually we got to Ware's Tires and pulled in. We met Charlie and discussed our problems. He checked the tire pressures and found all the tires under pressure and recommended they all be re pressurised. He also found a nail in one of the tires which bought the pressure down to 35. No wander we were swaying about. Anyway, we were totally repressurised. Had a chat with owner as he was thinking of purchasing an RV and wanted to know what we thought about the FR3. It turned out that he lived on the premises, it seems to be quite common for people, particularly in the rural areas to have their businesses at the side or back of the house. This spot was very rural and right on the edge of Alvarado, he said that his house was in Alverado but his near neighbour was in Mansfield. We made our way back along the county roads to Mansfield and stopped in Main Street but could not put the steps down without hitting the curb so we settled for a few pictures from the RV of old town Mansfield.
I wanted to go and see if I could find the Bronco where we had a cowboy breakfast with Chris and Dave all those years ago but I was suffering from sciatica and did not fancy the jump down to the sidewalk. We headed back and had a barbecue dinner. Pork chops and Veg with baked potato.
Tuesday 24th March
John (Tony's brother) arrives today at DFW Airport. We went out of the KOA campsite onto the 157 North to DFW. The SatNav took us into the airport on a back road and we ended on a service lane with a good view of Terminal D where we wanted to be but seemingly no way of getting there. After a few twists and turns we made it but need not have rushed. The BA flight from LHR was on time but it took two hours for John to get through. Apparently there was over three thousand passenger at the time being processed through immigration and customs. We took Sandy into the arrivals area with us and she became the airports official petting dog. I think every child within a mile radius made their way to her. She dutifully sat there looking gorgeous whilst being hugged and stroked. Looking a bit tired but in in good shape, John came through to arrivals and we made our way back to Arlington. We caught up on all the news over BBQ dinner of hamburgers and salad.
Wednesday 25th March
Went off to Fort Worth and the historic stockyards area. Back in the 19th and early 20th century Fort Worth was a stopping point on the Chisholm Trail for the cattle drives from South Texas. From here longhorn cattle, horses and mules were transported up country by train. After a look around the old station that now has a vintage train service to and from Grapevine, we made our way to Booger Red's Saloon for lunch.
We sat at the bar where there were saddles for seats and had a drink before lunch. I had filet
mignon and John and Tony had the ribs, the meat is so good here. In the afternoon we continued our tour around the old buildings and watched the old stage coaches clopping around the roads. Had a chat with a few Cowboys and waited for the cattle drive to come into town at 4pm. Bang on time I could hear the sounds of 'Rawhide' as the Cowboys and girls moved the longhorn cattle along Exchange Avenue - a taste of the old days.
In the evening John and Tony went out to a local bar called Maverick's and had a good informative chat with the barman about the licensing laws. Part of the law is that every one in the bar should carry ID and by law he was responsible to ensure they did. They went on to discuss the law regarding alcohol in Texas and how each county differs with some being dry and selling alcohol at all.
After our large lunch, Chicken Nachos for dinner.
Thursday 26th March
Took a trip to the the Pro Bass Outdoor World shop in Grapevine. We knew we had arrived by the amount of boats sitting out in the car park waiting to be sold. As I have said before these shops supply everything for huntin, shootin, fishin, boatin and more. Walking through the front door, the high ceilinged foyer area was set up like the inside of a hunting lodge, large open fireplace and comfy chairs and plenty of animal heads on the walls, it was all very comfortable and cosy.
Inside the shop was as usual packed with stock, plus some wildlife - alive and dead. First there was the three live rattle snakes in a glass enclosure, the the ducks on a pond and fish in an aquarium. Then there was the the collection of stuffed animals, from small possum's to a massive polar bear. The whole display covered most of the wild animals to be seen in North America. Next there was the gun and archery range if you wanted to have a go with your chosen weapon. Hunting licences are also available to purchase. There is plenty to interest the non-hunter with a wide choice of outdoor clothing and camping gear. Went back to the camp and spent most of the afternoon in the sunshine and had pork chop BBQ for dinner.
Friday 27th March
After a bacon sandwich brunch we set off for Dallas. It has been 35 years since we last visited Dallas and we were keen to see if it had changed. On approach to the city the skyscrapers rise up out of the prairie. It has obviously spread as I seem to recall there being much more open prairie either side of the road into the city. The Hyatt Regency - now looking dwarfed by the other tower blocks - still stands out with it's multi-mirrored facia. The same mirrored walls that introduced the start of the TV series Dallas all those years ago with the helicopter reflected in the hotel walls.
We parked downtown in the historic area and our first stop was the JFK Memorial and Dealey Plaza, passing the Bryan Log Cabin, the only remnant left of the original settlement. On the sixth floor of the book depository building there is a museum about the life and death of John Kennedy.
From here we walked past Union Station to the Hyatt Regency where we had last been for brunch in 1980. The layout still looked familiar with the high open foyer and the glass fronted lifts shooting out of the roof to reveal the Dallas skyline. After having a drink in the bar and chat with the waitress we couldn't resist it, so up the lifts we went to the top floor of the hotel to look at the vistas.
We then had a walk over to the West End Historic district where a lot of the old warehouse buildings are being renovated into shops and restaurants. We sat in the sunshine outside Emma's bar and had a drink, they did a lovely Margarita. Behind us on the road was a Cinderella style horse drawn coach giving rides around the district. At 6.30 we walked across to Lamar Street and the House of Blues. We had tickets to see Buddy Guy and we had a dinner reservation there for 7pm. Again it was a walk down memory lane because we had been to the House of Blues in 1980 for there famous gospel brunch. The restaurant was full and the atmosphere was buzzing with excited Friday night end of the week chit chat. The House of Blues has a rather sumptuous Edwardian theatre feel to it. There is a long old fashioned bar in the main restaurant that leads through to a foyer with tapestry upholstered chairs and sofas. Down a wide staircase from this area is the theatre, the standing room stalls, bar and the circle seats above. We were in the standing area and had a really could view of the stage. Buddy Guy was very entertaining and had a good banter with the audience and of course is a brilliant guitarist. He gave us some history on the blues and the old generation of blues players. He talked about some of the old stars he wrote for or played with, particularly Muddy Waters, Lightnin' Hopkins and John Lee Hooker. It was generally agreed that he had influenced Hendrix, The Stones, Eric Clapton etc. a perfect act for The House of Blues. He is now in his late seventies and shows no sign of slowing down.
After the concert we made our way back to the car for our journey back to Arlington. Then the nightmare started, there were road works on the interstate we wanted to use. We queued up behind a line of traffic thinking we were filtering onto the interstate then realised they were queuing for a night club. We got ourselves out of the line and followed the re-routing signs. We went around the ring road a couple of times and back into the centre passing the road on the signage twice but no access to the interstate. Several cars, including us, did follow the leader at one point only to find ourselves on an empty lot. The SatNav was no use it just kept guiding us back to the closed junction. More by luck than judgement we found our way onto the I-30 and back to Arlington.