Wednesday, August 14th, 2002
Wednesday morning I got back in the Jeep and started my trip home. My plan was to stay the night in Lubbock, then Albuquerque for a day with my folks and then back home. I got to Lubbock in the afternoon, but Patricia and Robert weren’t there. Instead, I was greeted by their 16 year old daughter, Christine. On my previous visit, Christine had been in Vietnam, where she had been for the last 6 weeks. Her parents had told me a lot about her as most parents do. Patricia had described her as “16 going on 25”.
It was a little awkward at first, but gradually we got used to each other. Christine informed me that her mother had told her that it was her job to entertain me. My first thought was “this will be interesting”. I will respect her privacy, but suffice to say Christine has had a lot more experience on the more “wild” side of life, shall we say than me. Which in and of itself is pretty strange since I’m 33 years old and she is 16. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I even thought that I might find myself in some circumstances I wasn’t comfortable with.
We went to dinner at an Italian place. Afterwards we decided to go shoot some pool and then go to a movie afterwards. We only had time for one pool game and then headed off to the movies. On the way, Christine explained that she wasn’t really into movies and she would rather do something else. To my surprise, she suggested going home and talking. By the time we got home it was probably close to 10pm. We walked out to the lake and plopped down by the steel house. It was a beautiful night and the stars were out. We proceeded to talk about life and how we both felt about our respective situations and had a wonderful conversation. We finally came in after midnight. It was a wonderful experience and something I look back at with amusement and wonderment. I had just spent the evening talking to a 16 year old about life and what it meant and the amazing thing was that she actually got it and that we actually were able to have this great conversation despite the differences in our ages and life experiences.
The next morning I had breakfast with the whole family and Robert was on a roll. Making jokes and causing us all to laugh. This continued at lunch where I went to the local deli with them. I was having such a great time and Patricia was persuasive, so I just had to stay for lunch.
Looking back at the summer, my time with the Bruno’s, just outside of Lubbock was the highlight of it all. To you, the reader on the outside it might not seem worthy of that. But to me and what I was looking for and feeling, it most definitely was.
Sunday, August 11th, 2002
Sunday morning I decided to go downtown and check out the JFK museum. John F. Kennedy was assasinated in Dallas on November 3rd, 1963. I wasn’t alive then, but I can imagine and I believe that it was a day that affected America even more than September 11th. Here was a president that many people admired and looked up to. Shortly after he was assasinated the decade of the 60’s went into full swing and changed America forever. Vietnam, the assasination of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, race riots, the drug culture. All these things occurred and much more. America was never the same.
I parked downtown and one of the first things I came across was the JFK Memorial. You wouldn’t know it if it didn’t say John F. Kennedy on it. A rather bland and strange memorial for such a popular figure and major event in American history.
The JFK Memorial
Next was Dealy Plaza, the place of the actual event. I walked the Grassy Knoll and the area behind the fence, where rumors persist there was another shooter. On the road where the fatal shot occured is an X to mark the spot. There is also a round plague next to the sidewalk across the street from the spot that marks it as an American historical spot. However, it says nothing about the historical event it marks. Very strange. Crowds gather around speakers still arguing and selling books that say there was a conspiracy. The whole area has a little ominous feeling that something is not quite right.
The Grassy Knoll
Next, was the JFK museum, which is in the old Texas book repository where Oswald supposedly fired the shots. It tells the history of the president, of his administration, of the fateful day, and of the world’s reaction after the event. For not being alive at the time, it still had an emotional effect on me. Personally, I believe JFK was assasinated to stop him from doing something that the establishment didn’t want him to do. I feel that when he was killed America suffered a near fatal blow to her founding ideals. It was the beginning of where we are now.
There was also a section that showed Pulitzer Prize winning photographs of important events around the world including September 11th. Also very emotional. It brings home the point of how fortunate we are here in America. In a lot of places around the world, life is a lot more difficult.
Even though it did affect me emotionally, it was also a little disgusting in a way. Here was a little industry set up around the death of a man. It seems like we should just move on and stop dwelling on an event that happened over 40 years ago.
Wednesday, August 13th, 2002
The Ballpark at Arlington
I met my friend Marc at his house and we headed off to the game. This game is kind of a milestone in my quest to visit every major league ball park. It will be my 20th team. Just ten more to go (barring expansion or contraction).
The Ranger’s stadium has the rather ordinary name of The Ballpark At Arlington. Arlington is a town just outside of Dallas/Ft. Worth. We parked in the parking lot and walked to the stadium. From the parking lot is a great view of this brand new stadium. It is another of the trend to create new stadium with all the modern conveniences, but with that classic traditional baseball feeling.
The stadium was pretty nice. We walked the grounds. One of the most interesting attractions to me was the Nolan Ryan statue in stands behind center field. Nolan Ryan is one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history and his stats engraved in a circle around the statue drove home the point. He is the all-time leader in strikeouts, no-hitters ( 7! ) and a couple of other stats. Opposing players would take the day off so they wouldn’t have to face him at the plate. He also holds the record for the fastest pitch ever at 104 MPH.
The game wasn’t particularly interesting. The Rangers were getting blown out by the Chicago White Sox. Marc and I had a good time reminiscing about our high school days and I enjoyed some catfish and chips for dinner. All in all a good time, but I was very much looking forward to heading home the next day.
August 8th – August 14th, 2002
Thurday morning I drove up to Dallas. It took about 4 hours and I checked into another extended stay motel. Originally I had planned to stay in Dallas for a week, just like in Austin, but my Austin experience changed my plans. I was going to leave on the 14th, after the baseball game.
Again, the idea was the same. To just be there and experience Dallas. However, there were a few things I wanted to do. There’s an Apple Store in Plano, a town just north of Dallas. Apple has been opening stores all over the country, but none yet in Utah, so I had to go check it out. Also, I wanted to check out downtown and see some JFK stuff, and of course the Texas Rangers are in nearby Arlington.
The Apple Store
Also, I have an old high school friend who now lives in Dallas. Marc moved to Georgia after he graduated from college and then to Dallas, where he works for Texas Instruments. I got in touch with him and had lunch with him on Friday. It didn’t take long for us to get back in the swing. Didn’t feel like we had been apart much at all. He took me to see TI’s digital projector demos where we watched the Star Wars: Episode II trailer on a big movie size HDTV screen with a digital projector. He invited me to his place on Sunday for dinner, where I met his family and ate a delicious meal. Marc and his wife, Christy, have 4 kids. 3 girls and 1 boy. The oldest is nine, so they have there hands full. It was nice to see everybody and to see how things are going.
August 4th – August 8th, 2002
I spent Sunday through Thursday morning in Austin. Austin was the main reason I came to Texas. I wanted to get a feel for it and see if I might want to live here. Austin has a lot of high technology companies and has a lot of culture and art. Basically a lot of creative people. Fortune has ranked it in the top 10 for the best cities for singles.
But I was disappointed. Sure, it’s a nice city and all, but I didn’t feel any different, the people didn’t seem any different, and the city itself didn’t feel any different to me than any other city I’ve spent time in. I spend the time driving around, going to the shops, checking out companies I was interested in, going to restaurants, etc. I went to a AA baseball team in a city just north called Round Rock. They have a baseball team called the Round Rock Express that is owned by Nolan Ryan and his son. Nice operation. Very similar to the Stingers in Salt Lake. Nice stadium too. Just as nice as Franklin Quest Field, except they don’t have the spectacular mountain view.
The Texas capital
I also went downtown and saw the Texas capital. It was modeled after the nation’s capital and I think it is one of the biggest capitals in the country. Texas has a certain attraction too me and I think it has to do with it legendary origins. Similiar in stature to how the United States came to be. I love to see the United States and Texas flags together. I took lots of pictures of those and other Texas symbols.
The best pair of flags in the country
I actually left Austin sooner than I had planned. I planned to stay there a week, but I had had enough. At this point, my enthusiasm for the Texas trip had waned and I was ready to move on.
Monday, August 5th, 2002
Today was my first full day in Austin. I decided to take a drive down to San Antonio, which was just about an hour and half south. I wanted to see the Alamo, and my friend Laury had told me about the cool river walk there. So off I went.
For those of you who are not familiar with the Alamo (miss a little school, did we?), here’s the deal. The Alamo was a fort in Texas when Texas declared their independence from Mexico. Santa Ana brought his troops into Texas and the Alamo was the first line of defense for Texas. Texas was not ready to fight Santa Ana yet and the Alamo had to slow down Santa Ana enough so Texas could get ready. Some legendary figures were at the Alamo, including my boyhood favorite, Davy Crockett. Every last man who fought at the Alamo died there, but they slowed Santa Ana down enough and they inspired the rest of Texas, who cried “Remember the Alamo”! Eventually Texas won her independence from Mexico and became an independent nation and of course joined the United States not long after. Some say Texas never officially joined the U.S. and is still an independent nation, but it is not recognized as such.
Alright, enough history. The Alamo was interesting enough and certainly inspiring, but not quite what I pictured. Very little is left of the original place and much of it is now a museum and a place for tourists to visit. The statues are cool, the grounds are nice, and the story itself is enough to inspire you.
Part of San Antonio’s River Walk
After that I went to the river walk and probably walked about five miles. It is a pretty cool thing and is pretty unique in all the cities I have every visited.
Saturday, August 3rd
From Albuquerque, I decided to go half way to Austin, and stay the night with a recent friend of the family and her family. I had just met her when I had been up to Montana this summer and she had offered to let me stay with her and her family when I went to Texas. In the directions she gave me to get to her house she mentioned that there was a steel house that I couldn’t miss. She was right. However, she didn’t mention that it was their house that her husband had been building for 27 years!
The Steel House
It is probably the most interesting house I have ever seen. From some angles it looks like a spaceship. From the outside it looks like the villian’s submersible fortess in the Spy Who Loved Me. Inside, its flowing stairs, curved walls and big windows. A very cool house.
For dinner we went to an Italian restaurant, very similar to Macaroni Grill. After dinner, we saw a video. It was The Sheltering Sky with John Malkovich and Debra Winger. By the time that was over, it was 2 in the morning. And then we went for a walk!
I had planned to leave right away in the morning, but I was having a lot of fun and Patricia was pretty persuasive. Once I woke up, we went for another walk. I ended leaving for Austin about 11 am. All in all it was a lot of fun and Patricia and her husband, Robert are an interesting couple and easy to get along with. Patrica is very outgoing and Robert and I seem to have a similiar philosophy about life and our respective crafts (he’s an architect).