"Your life becomes the thing you have decided it shall be."
– Raymond Charles Barker
This week's quote is interesting to me because as I was sitting here this morning, I began contemplating what my New Year's resolution will be. Like most people, I make a resolution, actually several resolutions - - some easy and some challenging - - and then blow them within the first few weeks of the new year. I don't want to do that this time. I want to be one of those people who makes a commitment to change something and actually does it. Therefore, I must give this one some real thought and prayer . . .
Ok, so let's get to the update. Yes, I know, I missed last week's update but there's a reason for that. Our trip to the Dallas/Fort Worth area turned out to be something completely different than we had planned. Steve calls this leg of our journey the "mullet version" because it was business up front and fun on the back end!! Let me explain - - - -
When we planned to be in Dallas, we had intended to spend some time with family and friends and see how Dallas has grown since I was last here (about 10 or 15 years ago). Well, the friends and family part worked out. Our first visit was with our dear friends Dave and Deanne Luce. These people sold us our beautiful farm house and were our neighbors for 6 years after the sale. We became great friends and we love them dearly. December 6 was Deanne's 70th birthday and she was in Dallas visiting her daughter Debbie who's married to Doug (yes, that's a lot of D's). Anyway, Debbie and Doug and their friend Tawny were taking Dave and Deanne out for birthday dinner so Steve and I tagged along. We met at a wonderful Mexican restaurant called Mi Dia in Grapevine, Texas and had a wonderful time. Deanne had some major health issues this last few months, and we are so grateful that she has been on the mend and is her old self again. Thank you Jesus.
Our next visit was with our niece Jessica and her husband Josh and their son Caleb. They recently moved to Plano, Texas as Josh was sent here to open up a new office for the engineering firm for which he is employed. It was great seeing family after being on the road for 3 months. They are doing great and love the Dallas area. We met them for a very nice dinner and went to church with them at Fellowship Church on Sunday. This church is one of those mega churches you hear about, but let me stop here and give you an overview of Dallas:
Everything is mega here. Churches, Walmarts, and especially the highways. They are everywhere. I have never, in my life, seen so many cars on the road at one time. It is truly difficult to describe what I call the controlled chaos of the Dallas Metroplex. For example, we were in Mesquite Texas and went to Grapevine, Texas to have dinner with Dave and Deanne. That distance is around 30 miles but it took us 90 minutes to get there. Same with our trip to Plano which is even closer than Grapevine. These highways are 5 lanes wide on both sides and are lined with all manner of shops and churches and schools. And, as I said, everything is enormous. Except the land that they put houses on.
Dallas was an area that Steve and I had thought about retiring in so we did a little house-hunting while we were here. Everything is new and beautiful, to be sure, but the homes are on postage stamp sized plots. No kidding. You have these beautiful homes right on top of each other. Now, in a state the size of Texas where there's land aplenty, why do you have to squeeze 100 houses into a space that should comfortably hold only 30? To make matters worse, the garages are on the back of the homes which you get to via an alley, and the garage takes up most of the backyard. This does clean up the facade of the house as there is no garage door marring the architectural beauty of the home, but you lose all the yard and then the alley you have to maneuver your vehicle in is so narrow that you would have difficulty with oncoming traffic.
Ok, so now I get to to the business side of our "mullet visit" to Dallas. Steve decides on Thursday morning that he wants to stop in at the RV dealer we passed on one of the mega-highways, so we go for a look at their inventory. A couple of hours later, we purchased a new 40 ft. fifth wheel. Yeah, that's right. We are saying goodbye to our dear Wendy. She has been a great trailer for us, but we have noticed that we are pushing her beyond what she was designed for. Wendy is a trailer for weekend trips or for the weekly vacation here and there, not full time living. So we purchased a new Redwood 36FL (for those of you who want to Google our new house). It is quite lovely inside and has numerous features that make it suitable for full-time living: residential heating/cooling, dual pane windows, much larger holding tanks, stackable washer and dryer, full-size refrigerator, convection microwave oven, and other features that will make our full-time RV lifestyle more comfortable. We are calling our new abode "Big Red" since we purchased the version of this trailer that has the red/black/gold paint scheme. She's a big girl now - - 16,000 pounds fully loaded - - so we also had to also say goodbye to our beloved Rex. But not really because we bought the dually version of Rex - - so it's really more like Rex with a big butt. Now you can see why this time in Dallas became the "business" side of the visit. We spent 4-5 days on the dealings with the purchase of the trailer and truck. Both Steve and I truly believe this was the right thing to do. We knew we would have to eventually upgrade, especially given the terrain out west, so we did the deal at a time when we could get the most value in our trades. I'm glad it's over though.
Ok, back to fun. The day after we bought the trailer, we had dinner with my friend Cari Turner and her husband Bill. It's funny how sometimes difficult circumstances can bring really good stuff into your life. It was in a difficult circumstance that I met Cari. She is a consultant working for the firm that assisted Visteon through its bankruptcy. I worked very closely with her during that period of time as I was managing the prepetition claims and post-petition liabilities. That was a brain-busting job and thankfully Cari was there to guide me through it. We have become friends since that time and I am very glad for that because she's a sweet person. It was really great to see her again and quite fortuitous as well since it was her husband's recommendation on a car dealership that lead us to Rex #2. We were having a difficult time finding the truck that we wanted to pull "Big Red" with and Bill's suggestion led us to exactly what we needed.
Now on to the back end of the "mullet visit". We did get to do some fun things while in Dallas. Our first stop was Dealey Plaza and the Sixth Floor Museum. For those of you too young to know what this is, John F. Kennedy was assasinated by Lee Harvey Oswald from the sixth floor window of the Book Depository Building that sat across from Dealey Plaza in downtown Dallas. I must say this is one of the most impressive museums I have ever visited - - second only to the Civil Rights Institute in Birmingham, Alabama. The museum starts with Kennedy's early political life and leads you up to the time of his visit to Dallas in November 1963. As you walk around the sixth floor of this building, you view pictures of his life and his career and the journey takes you right up to the corner where Lee Harvey Oswald sat and took his fatal rifle shots at the President. The museum has the corner of this floor cordoned off with plexiglass and have the area set up just as it was when LHO was there. The box on which he rested his rifle still bears the marks of that gun barrel on it. Unfortunately, we could take no pictures inside this museum, but I recommend you check it out on the internet at www.jfk.org. Steve was able to get some shots of the street outside the museum. The "X's" on the street mark where JFK was when the shots hit him. The first X was the first shot he received through the throat. The second X was the fatal shot that his the back of his head. There are some conspiracy theorists who insist that there was a fourth shot (this is covered in the museum as well) and this fourth shot supposedly came from the grassy knoll in front of the building. Steve and I went to the fence that lines that knoll and met someone there who indicated that some 35 people saw a gunman behind that fence the day Kennedy was killed. He said that of those 35 people, 16 met an untimely death shortly after the investigation into Kennedy's death was started. Who knows what really happened that day. All we do know is that the young life of a brilliant man was taken suddenly and left this country in turmoil for quite some time afterward.
I am now going to change the subject and get to some fun - - Steve and I went to Southfork to visit JR Ewing. Well, he wasn't there, but Sue Ellen was. For those of you who don't know what i am talking about, there was a television show that ran from 1978 to 1991 called "Dallas". It was kind of like a soap opera but only it was on at night. Anyway, the show was based in Dallas and was about a very rich oil family who basically ran the city of Dallas. TNT is doing a revival of that show, which will air in May, 2012, and they were doing some filming while we were there. We met Josh Henderson who plays JR's son John Ross. He is from Milford, Michigan and was very nice. We also met the woman who plays Christopher's wife (Juile Gonzala) who wasn't so nice. She was kind of really full of herself, but hey they are Hollywood types, right? For those of you who have never been to Southfork, but have seen the show, let me tell you that the house is a disappointment. It is nowhere near as big as you would think it was. They television series actually only uses the outside of that house in their filming. The actual set was in Culver City, California and the house is 8 times larger than the 3,200 square foot residence that you see on TV. It was still interesting to see the house and especially all the trailers and equipment they had on site for the filming. We offered to be extras on the set but nobody was interested. Hmmm.
Steve and I are now in Fort Worth and I must say, we love it. It is a much smaller version of Dallas and has so much charm. We had dinner downtown at a restaurant called Ferre (which we highly recommend) and spent some time marveling at the beautiful architecture of this city. Unlike Dallas that is sleek and modern, Fort Worth retains a great deal of it's historic charm. I would highly recommend a visit if you are in the area. Since our plans got side-tracked with the new truck and trailer, we haven't been able to have much fun but we are rectifying the situation this week. We did some Christmas shopping in the Christmas Capitol of Texas: Grapevine. What a charming little town. Grapevine's main street is lined with shops and restaurants that are so charming and harken back to a simpler time - - exactly the kind of place where Steve and I want to spend our retirement years. In the upcoming days we plan to tour Cowboys Stadium, visit the Fort Worth stockyards, and see some dinosaur prints and fossils at a nearby state park. We plan to also visit Billy Bob's and Gilley's and hear some great country and western music and hopefully, I can get Steve to ride a mechanical bull. After this week, we head to Austin for a few days and then make our way along the coast to Florida where we will hook up again with our friends Dave and Deanne and attend the Daytona 500.
Ok, gotta go and get ready for church. I will write again next week and fill you in on all the Anderson happenins'. Take care, get your Christmas shopping done in as stress free a manner as possible, but do not ever forget the reason for the season folks!!!!!!!