I just returned home from an eleven-day trip with the Lewis County Senior Citizen bus tour to Texas and I thought I would share some of our experiences while on our journey. I decided to take this trip back to Texas where I lived one year in Fort Worth. My Dad was called back into service after serving in Europe during the second World War in the Army. In 1950, my Dad was called back and served one year at Carswell Air Force base in Fort Worth, Texas. My Mom and I went to Texas on a bus and Dad met us in Dallas. So, this trip was a journey back in time. I feel like a chapter in my life has now been completed. The Lewis County bus tour served over 40 men and women who wished to travel through Texas. Although we were a tired bunch of folks at the end of our journey, we had a great time. Clara is a great leader and plans trips to see our great country as well as trips to other countries. Next year’s schedule will come out soon and you will have the opportunity to look over the schedule and plan to take a trip to a variety of places.
We left Weston on October 7 with lots of rain along the first day to our destination of Nashville. We checked into our motel and then went to the Nashville Nightlife Theater for a great meal and a Country Music Show. Everyone was tired but enjoyed the evening. The next day we had breakfast and got back on the bus for the next stop in Little Rock, AR. I was very surprised to see our bus driver Tim. Tim saved many injuries, as well as lives, on another trip he took us on a few years ago. On the former trip, I just happened to be sitting in the isle and looked out the front bus window as a driver cut across in front of our bus and came to a screeching halt as the lane had stopped for road construction. There were quite a few cars in this lane, and I saw no way out of a head-on crash into the car who stopped just a short distance in front of us. Tim made a quick turn to the right and did not hit the car in front of us, which would have hit the one in front of him, and on and on. Our leader Clara was thrown on the floor, stuff came out of the top of the bus and everyone was shaken, but Tim saved the day. I was so happy to see Tim and know that he was our driver. I knew we were in good hands with Tim and that with quick thinking, he would keep us safe.
Our nest destination after arriving at our motel in Little Rock was to visit the Marisgate Plantation looking out over the waters of Bearskin Lake. Marisgate is a stately-columned Greek-Revival mansion, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The mansion is the only plantation home in the state fully furnished in the Antebellum period style. After our tour, we sat down at a magnificent table adorned with glass and orchids for a fine dinner served to us in a stately fashion. This journey was truly a trip back in time. The acreage was so large, all one could see was miles and miles of land that was once covered with cotton to be picked and packaged for shipment to all points. As we arrived, the evening sun was shining across the lake and was truly a beautiful sight. We returned to our motel for a good night’s rest before forging onward to Texas.
Wednesday, we checked into our Dallas motel in the Love Field-Medical District to relax and get ready to go to the Saltgrass Steakhouse for a great dinner. I would guess that everyone gained a few pounds on this trip. We had great meals and Clara always has a variety of snacks that are passed out regularly. We always have cold water on the bus and we make stops every two to three hours to stretch our legs and take bathroom breaks.
Thursday morning, we had another great breakfast at our motel and then left for a tour of Dallas. We visited the Old Red Courthouse, Pioneer Plaza, Dallas Heritage Village, the Arts District and more, before having lunch. After lunch, we visited the area where President Kennedy was assassinated, the museum where we learned more about the Kennedy history, the reason he traveled to Dallas and even the statement he made, that if someone wanted to kill him, the streets to be traveling in Dallas gave a good vantage point for him being shot. We even went to the window where Oswald shot at the President. Many still believe he was shot from the grassy knoll, which we visited as well. It is supposed that both the window and the grassy knoll were vantage points for the shooting.
Our last visit of the day was Southfork Ranch where the series Dallas was supposed to be filmed. We learned that only a few scenes were ever filmed at the ranch. There was a duplicate home built on a set where most of the scenes were filmed. The ranch was very beautiful. I loved the barn red kitchen and the bathrooms were exquisite. We visited the gift shop and ate our dinner in one of the extra buildings used to serve many events. The Southfork dinner was a highlight of our trip. We were served beef brisket, cornbread and beans, potatoes, salad, veggies and peach cobbler with ice cream. The meal was very good. Everyone was really tired after all the places visited throughout the day. We were ready to retire for the night.
Friday was the day I looked forward to as we drove into Fort Worth, Texas. Fort Worth is known as “Cowtown”. Before leaving Dallas, we visited the AT&T Stadium, which is not only the home of the Dallas Cowboys, but is also the world’s largest domed structure and an art museum. We visited the entire stadium. It was built to be used for ballgames, special events and there is a television everywhere you look. As we looked out into the stadium, it was full of round decorated tables with all the fine dishes and such for a special event. Thousands of guests can attend the ballgames and other events that are scheduled regularly throughout the year. We visited the Dallas Cheerleader area where there are pictures up on the walls of all who have been a cheerleader. We visited the locker rooms for the players with their pictures everywhere. We went through the area, which is many feet underground, where the large ceiling can be opened and the ceiling doors go underground. We visited the top of the stadium where the ceiling doors open and where one of the largest tv screens is placed for all to be seen during games and events. This stadium has also been used for disasters and can house thousands during a major disaster in the area. We were very impressed with the design and the plans for all the many uses of this stadium. There are plans and construction work being done to add another huge stadium close to this one for a new sports arena, as well as plans for the old arena. All three buildings are close together and will further athletic programming in the area.
Finally, we arrived in Fort Worth. Many of us took pictures of the tall buildings and the large building that fell in and killed workers. This building was very large and was pretty much collapsed as we drove by. Since 1950, I would not have recognized the buildings, as much had changed. Dallas and Fort Worth are not far from each other and there is quite a competitive spirit with them both. We toured the area and visited water gardens, Sundance Square, the Amon Carter Museum, Billy Bobs of Texas and the world’s largest Honky Tonk.
Our next stop was the longhorn cattle drive right down Exchange Boulevard. Of course, I did not recognize anything after all the years since I had lived there. I take that back. I remember the downtown longhorned steer parade. When I was there, I remember more in the parade. I also saw Randolph Scott riding a horse in the parade. On Friday, we saw about fifteen longhorned steers move slowly down the street and it was over. There were several riders with the steers, but the parade was about fifteen minutes long as the steers made their way very slowly down the street. This was a windy day and cooler than expected, so we were not disappointed to have a short parade. We also saw a protest parade. The group were younger women. Some of them looked as though they were from a school. I stopped one and asked why they were protesting. The girl said that were demonstrating to get Woman Power. They were not nasty or too loud, but they did have a large group for their cause.
We all had a variety of places to eat our dinner before we saw the highlight of the day. We attended a full-blown rodeo with horses, steers, bulls, trick riding, clowns, calf roping, and we were truly in the middle of a real rodeo at the historic Coliseum Building featuring two hours of the Texas Cowtown’s Rodeo Best. We returned to our motel after 10 p.m. and were ready for a night’s rest before moving to our next destination of Waco, Texas.
I will finish our story of the visit to Texas in my next column. Stay tuned for Waco, San Antonio, Houston and on to New Orleans.
I leave you with these thoughts. One is never too old to have new experiences. One is never too old to meet new people and make friends. One is never too old to take a trip back in their history. The average age of our bus travelers was 68 on our trip to Texas. One is never too old to dream. One is never too old to have fun.