We spent a lovely 36 hours or so in Dallas – got to see a dozen or so Barkers, four generations, and two of Ben’s great friends, as well as engaging inour very first and only so far just-for-fun activity (like tourists do).
Once again, knock on wood, the drive into Dallas was easy as pie. Some of my old nervousness came back in the downtown traffic-y area, but no problems, and I didn’t scream once. There is a ton of construction around Ben’s neighborhood, University Park near SMU. But Ben’s mom Jane was there waiting for us,
armed with the keycard to the gate of a large, not much used parking lot 1/2 block from her house (all within one block of where Ben grew up). Jane ushered us in with air traffic controller like precision, and big hugs all around. Two of his sisters, Susan and Jeanne, live in the neighborhood, and sister Leslie and brother Allan are only a few miles away.
Some of the crew gathered for dinner at an old family favorite – El Fenix downtown; Enchilada Dinner night at this old school place has been on Wednesdays for about as long as anyone can remember (Allan rarely misses a week). Ben’s dad’s office at KRLD was right around the corner back in the 60s and El Fenix was (and probably still is) a favorite with the reporters. Ben and his siblings have vivid memories of, as kids, being nudged up to the homemade tortilla station, dollar in hand, to give Maria a tip.
After a wonderful night’s sleep, our day without driving dawned. Spring in Dallas is made awesomer by the fact that it is not summer in Dallas which is H-O-T hot. We spent the morning getting Jane up to speed on all the apps and bookmarks she needed to follow our journey, while not messing with her existing and beloved USA Today crossword and classical radio apps. In the afternoon, and what was really our first tourist-like activity on the journey so far, we went to the Meadows museum at SMU. The Meadows is a private museum, funded by an art lover and oilman philanthropist, who in the 50s went looking for oil in Spain (didn’t find much there), but stayed right across from the Prado museum, and fell in love with Spanish art. The museum is just the right size (not too big) and had some fabulous exhibits, including a painting on loan from the Louvre, they proudly told us at the front desk.
Post-museum, Ben’s friends James and King came over after work (what’s that?) and drank a few beers while checking out the Airstream. Dinner was a pizza and salad feast at sister Jeanne’s which included arugula and sorrel from niece Laura’s garden. It was great-niece Emmy’s 1st bday (big party was previous weekend) so that was really cool too. The Barker women don’t age, so Emmy, you got good genes, girl!
We did some more touring of the Airstream after, and nephew-in-law Eli, who is an engineer, crawled under the trailer in the dark parking lot, spouting truth about the genius design, craftsmanship and artistry that is Airstream, a la Walt Whitman. The man went on and on about the door hinge. We loved it!
Today, we made our way to Canyon, TX where we’ll hike in – you guessed it, canyons. Lunch on the way was real (and real good) Mexican tacos from a gas station. Some fellas at the Tire Lube helped us get ship shape with our PSI. We made a point to listen to Nanci Griffith – west Texas songstress – along the way, while Google helped us learn about the Comanche, cattle drives, wind farms, and more railroads.
We promise we really care about history and will dig in for real when we have the time…like tomorrow!
We leave you with one final trailer beauty shot from a stop in Chillicothe.
The Airstream pairs well with Texas!