Exploring Dallas: Plight of the Chicken, Part One

If you’re the type of person who doesn’t leave food outside their car in a parking garage when going to aquariums, this blog might not be for you.

For those of you still with me, let’s get started.

One week turned in to Six…ish

When we arrived in Dallas, Texas in late January, we had thoughts of staying here about a week. Our goals: have a nice meal in Dallas, get all our blinds in a working order in McKinney, and head either towards Red Bay, Alabama or down towards Louisiana. Our hearts say LOUISIANA. Our heads say… LOU Red Bay, Alabama. (Our hearts are loud in this argument.) For context, Red Bay is where Tiffin Motorhomes are built, so while our coach is too old to have repair work done at Tiffin Motorhomes, there are informed repair shops up there that we had intended going to since we purchased our coach back in September.

Turns out, we’ll be in Dallas through mid-March. Not what we planned, but when life throws you lemons, duck! We’re here because, as our friend Alissa pointed out, Jeremiah is a ding-dong who injured his back like an old man. I think her exact words were, “What a ding dong.” Hey Alissa, I hadn’t told Jeremiah you said that until just now. 

So, Jeremiah is going to physical therapy twice a week right now, and logic says “don’t try to bounce around while doing physical therapy.” I actually don’t know if he’s literally bouncing, but we’re not traveling from city-to-city. So, we’re here, for a while. Instead of bemoaning the fact we are stationary for a month or so, we’re soaking up the more colorful sides of Dallas.

Truck Lot Eclipses

Initially, we decided to stay close in Dallas one night. We needed to do grocery shopping, pick up some dog food from Costco, and I really wanted to watch some football and have a beer. Jeremiah sought out a good place, and decided we’d chance it at a secure truck lot.

Here’s a good joke Jeremiah told me after we stayed there, “What’s the difference between an RV park and a secure truck lot? A truck lot actually enforces the rules.”

The truck lot we stayed at was incredibly safe. Every time we went in or out, the attendant checked both of our IDs. Additionally, it’s not like truckers are there to party, so the over-nighters like us were there just to sleep. While we didn’t push out our slides, it was quiet and safe, and smack-dab in Dallas where we did find our beers and football.

Later that evening, we stood outside our home on wheels, dog leash in hand, while the blood moon dipped behind earth’s shadow, totally eclipsed.

I would have taken pictures but I didn’t for a couple reasons: one, I’m horrible at photographing the night sky, and two, I’m an advocate that you have to spend time enjoying things sometimes and not photographing the moment.

Shortly after we moved in to our stick-and-brick home out in the country near Portland, Oregon, there was a lunar eclipse. The both of us had thought we’d be able to see if from our yard, but the moon hung low in the sky, and our view was marred by our and the neighbor’s trees. Instead of rapidly cutting down the trees, Jeremiah urged us to jump in the car. Barefoot, I slid in to the passenger seat and we zoomed down further away from trees and onto a small streets, surrounded by wheat fields.

“I can see it! I can see it!” I hollered as we sped to find a place to pull over; we were not the only ones with such great ideas – cars were parked along the sides of the road in this open expanse. We reached an old abandoned church, decrepit, wooden slats over the broken windows, and parked the car in the gravel parking area. The moon dipped behind the shadow of the earth, and we sat silently as it glowed eerily red. As the moon’s brightness began returning, car engines were turned on and the usually quiet street was emptied of its nighttime visitors. It was such an improntu car ride that hadn’t grabbed our phones or a camera. Not everything has to be captured on a lens, and I think I’ll continue to reserve a space in my mind just for lunar eclipses and leave my camera off for those moments.

We could live in McKinney

McKinney, Texas. I love you. A suburb of Dallas, McKinney was where we headed to get our shades fixed. First of all, MCD innovations has the best customer service, but the installer, Calvin, was freaking awesome. Bernadette fell in love with him at first sight and she’s usually pretty tentative with new people, especially guys. She was more relaxed around him than I’ve ever seen her with a dude. She napped by him as seen in photos… we promise we said we could move her! Calvin didn’t mind.

McKinney has hands-down the best barbecue and best burger we’ve had on the road. Jeremiah often claims he could eat tacos and barbecue every day until he dies. I, on the other hand, like to save up calories for incredible burgers. If you’re McKinney area, head to Hutchins BBQ and Square Burger.

We also fell in love with the small-town feel of the inviting downtown, but loved that there were plenty of amenities. If it weren’t for the amount of precipitation, we might have already bought a stick-and-brick home in McKinney.  Shout out to my dad who reminded us we’re trying to get away from the rain. Problematically, I’ve already convinced my mom she wants to live in McKinney, so Al, I guess you’re going to have to put up with the rain. (But no snow! And how much does Bend have right now?!)

A campground to avoid

From McKinney, we headed down towards the most run down COE we’ve ever seen. I’d give you a review, but it would simply state, don’t stay at East Fork park. So, don’t. Are you still thinking about it? Don’t. Seriously, ask the attendants; they don’t even want to be there. Tip: Don’t stay at East Fork COE until they get the roads fixed and give the camp hosts more free time because a 16 hour shift is too long. If you are looking to stay near Lavon Lake, there are a few campsites we didn’t check out because they were further away from Dallas, but I’d suggest seeing if those ones are a bit nicer. (We love boondocking, so it really isn’t about the “niceness” of the park but for 30 bucks a night, we’d prefer to avoid potholes the size of a small car.)

February 1st came and went, and what would have been Gordon’s 11th birthday. That evening, Bernadette and I stood at the water’s edge, watching a beaver swim effortlessly. It was a sad, cool evening, clouded without stars. I wished again, like every time I think about him, that he were there standing at the shore with me. But, we move forward.

Here for the long stay

Eventually, we made it over to an RV park where we’re getting a helluva deal for a month stay…and there’s a workout room! There’s also a pool but as much as I love swimming, there are limits to the temperature of water I am willing to dip my body in to. Come on heat wave!

Color on a cloudy day: Deep Ellum

The Deep Ellum neighborhood in Dallas was recommended by a couple fellow travelers on Instagram and I am SO glad we went. Visiting the neighborhood was a turning point from me. I recognized we had to be here, and I might as well enjoy it, dammit. Deep Ellum reminds me of a more colorful, more polite mini version of Portland. The street art is definitive of the area. The art uses bold and vibrant colors, and the murals themselves are modern and inclusive. If you want to check out some great photos of the murals, check out a blog I stumbled upon here. By the way, I don’t know the author but they’ve captured the beauty of Deep Ellum much better than I did.

If I were to compare Deep Ellum to Portland, Oregon I would say it’s also friendlier. Something I’ve learned on my trip is that I’ve been under the impression that West Coast people are relatively friendly, but I’ve recognized I’m often abrupt and to-the-point, especially while I’m ordering food or shopping. While I always say thank you, please, etc, I’m never one to start a conversation just to chat. (Frankly when people did that with me while I worked in food service, I’d get a bit stressed; there was always someone else I could be helping, or something else I could be doing – but that’s just not how they operate here.)

As an example, I am very accustomed to the hostess at a restaurant saying hello, how many, and promptly seating us. When we ventured to Cane Rosso pizza, the hostess was upbeat and talkative. The atmosphere of getting-to-the-point is less immediate here. I’m not sure if like it yet. Maybe this is what people imply when they say some of the Southern states are “slower” than other places. Jeremiah also informs me that Texas isn’t considered the South but it’s a whole lot more southern than Oregon!

We walked the streets and stopped into an expensive cookie place where milk was on tap. It was towards evening, so I was stuck with 2 nut-free options and snickerdoodle was my choice du jour. Salty in the best sort of way, I finished my cookie while Jeremiah drank his draft milk on the drive home. I might drag him back to Deep Ellum before we leave again; there are musical venues abound and I’m eager to check out some things I may have missed while ogling the walls of the businesses.

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner

On a very rainy Saturday, we decided the aquarium in Dallas would be a nice reprieve from the cold, soggy weather. Stopping at a wings restaurant, we ordered entirely too much food. We had assumed that it was an expensive restaurant since it was downtown. It was not. We did not know how to order. The wait staff had to make two trips to bring our food out, and between the first and second trip, Jeremiah looked at me and said, “We need a bigger table.” So, we moved to a four top table. Here’s a tip to Pacific Northwesters: if you’re ordering at a semi-casual restaurant in Dallas, don’t expect to pay the same amount you would in Portland. If you do, you’re over-ordering.

With our eyes bulging out of our heads, we started munching away at our chicken, finishing approximately none of it before boxing it up. “Well, I don’t have to cook dinner tonight!” I announced.

This is where it gets funny, but also a little unsettling. Jeremiah has been known to do something that I had never done before I met him, and that I still feel a bit peculiar about. If a dog is in the car, he’ll put a drink on top of the car while it’s parked, so the dog won’t spill the beverage. This particular day, he decided to take it a step further with our future dinner of chicken, and put it beneath the car in the middle of a parking garage in a busy city. Yum. Sounds safe and delicious.

We have a cooler in the back of the exploder, but Jeremiah didn’t want to wake up Bernadette who was napping in the passenger seat of the vehicle. This is not my favorite idea, but I’m really working on trying to be less uptight, so when he mentioned he’d do this at the chicken restaurant, I bit my tongue.

I wrote a very long blog… but where’s the suspense?

I finished and posted this blog, and then I brainstormed with my mom. Her suggestion? It’s long, make it in to two blogs. So, want to know what happens to the chicken? Turn in tomorrow for a chicken update, and to see what else we’ve been up to in the Dallas area.

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