17 Things To Do Within Driving Distance of Dallas

We have lived in the Dallas metro area for nearly 10 years total (as of the edit I did in 2017). Here are a few things we were able to enjoy fairly easily, and that I recommend. The day trips require no overnight stay, but some will have you leaving your home in the early morning hours.

Day Trips

Visit the beautiful Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge – It’s only about a three-hour drive away, and it’s like nothing else you’ll see driving twice that distance. A day trip is a bit of a stretch, but my son and I made a whirlwind visit up there on a Saturday — out at 6:30 a.m., home by about 10:30 p.m. We saw lots of buffalo within arm’s reach of our vehicle, longhorn steer, and of course the prairie dog town. The mountains look like huge piles of rocks, and several small lakes and clear streams add to the scenery. While on the trails we rarely saw other people. Later we returned with my wife and camped overnight, which made it a much more complete experience. We saw a bull elk grazing streamside and toured the visitor’s center. While in the area, stop at Mt. Scott, especially if you cannot hike. You will get nice views from just driving to the top.

Click here for photos from our first trip.

Explore the JFK assassination site and memorial – We dropped by spontaneously after seeing a show at Medieval Times. We posed on the grassy knoll alongside visiting friends, while a local snapped our picture, and then strolled up to the John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza. The museum was closed, but I can only imagine it would add to the experience.

Experience a meal and a show at Medieval Times – Twice we have stepped back in time to enjoy the staged jousts, sword fights, and royal intrigue. Only a Renaissance festival can come close. You’ll need to be prepared to eat without utensils, but you can go anachronistic and have a Pepsi.

Laugh at an improv comedy show at Four-Day Weekend — A talented comedy troupe that performs in a creaky, vintage Fort Worth theater, this group provides improvisational comedy that had the crowd in stitches both times we went. There’s a full bar for refreshments, if that’s your thing.

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Good Girl

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The canine may no longer be the top dog since we’ve had a child, but she still rates pretty high. Here she rests contentedly while the boy works on his diorama, just an hour or so after happily submitting to his belly rub. (click pic to enlarge)

Things weren’t always that smooth between the two.

When we first brought Cassie home from the rescue organization’s foster placement, she immediately took to us, but was not happy with the new level of competition that Benjamin brought. She cowered and growled any time he got close, and nipped at his leg once — fortunately for both without breaking the skin. I had told Shannon that she was going back at the first sign of trouble.

For years she wouldn’t follow when he tried to lead her to the back door, but changed her tune when he became a regular filler of her food bowl. Now she wags her stubby excuse for a tail and leans toward his outstretched hand, rather than avoiding him at all costs.

They have developed a relationship and, although Benjamin still occasionally laments the passing of sweet Lexie a few years ago, Cassie is the first pet with which he truly has formed a bond.

Funny how it’s almost the opposite for me. Lexie was our only “child” for nearly 11 years before Benjamin came along, my first pet since the steady stream of outdoor dogs back in my boyhood home. Saying goodbye to her was difficult for me.

While I have grown to love Cassie, it just isn’t and never could be the same after having a child. I hope she doesn’t read this.

Unexpected Pleasures (Ozarks Weekend Part 7 – redux)

(continued from Part 6)

Disclaimer: there is no simple way to get out of that area of Arkansas. True, the signs there really mean it when they proclaim “Scenic Drive,” but they also can make you laugh when they warn, “Crooked and Steep next 14 miles.” Um, the next 14? What the heck would you call the last 14?

It’s even tougher to get out when you need to go west but you go north.

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Frog Tired and Drinking

I stood next to the kitchen island, my right arm elbow-deep in a two-gallon fish tank, using a standard pair of tweezers to dangle a bloodworm in front of our African Dwarf Frog’s face. Kipp, as we call him, darted his head forward and grabbed the bloodworm. I let the tweezers open and began withdrawing my arm from the slightly murky water.

I was pulling Kipp up like a caught fish.

“The bloodworm is stuck,” I said.

“Hang on, Kipp,” Shannon said.

He let go and swam to a distant corner of the tank. The bloodworm still hung from one side of the tweezers. My mind flashed back to a PetSmart employee who told my wife to just sprinkle a few dehydrated bloodworms in there each day. That was the method we had used to kill the first two frogs and one of the second pair.

I sighed, and might have muttered a curse word or two. “Okay, I’ll take you up on your offer. You finish feeding him,” I said.

Before that, my wife had watched as I cut the thawed bloodworms into bite-size pieces and offered them individually to Kipp, who hungrily gobbled two and dropped at least as many.

“That’s fine, you go sit and have your drink and I’ll do this,” she said.

Sometimes she knows exactly what to say after I’ve worked a stressful 12-hour day. She got Kipp to eat one more piece before he lost interest, then she joined me.

We spooned coarsely frozen piña coladas from plastic blue martini glasses. Kipp swam to the top of the tank and stretched out all four legs, then remained locked in that position as he sank lazily to the bottom. He worked his way slowly around the various plastic plants, visiting every corner of the tank.

There was no television, no radio, and our son was fast asleep in his bedroom. A euphoria washed over me as I enjoyed the coconut concoction and watched Kipp’s acrobatic floating and swimming act.

Just like our son, that tiny frog had infuriated me and calmed me within a five-minute span. Shannon took my glass and scooped it full from the white pre-mix bucket. “You need another,” she said.

Next thing on my list: long-handled tweezers.

Gator Crunch

The alligator’s nostrils and eyes poked up through the water’s surface as the beast lay in wait for its next meal. Just 20 feet from us, it was as still as the glassy water.

“I’m going to get a picture just to show J there are alligators here,” J said.

“Sure. Me, too,” I said and lifted my camera to my face.

(click any pic to enlarge)

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