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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The Sun’s Beauty Mark

Sun's Beauty MarkNewcomers: click image to enlarge it.

Venus makes a black dot on the sun during its June 5, 2012 transit. Taken with a Nikon D200 through my 32 year-old telescope sun filter pushed into a hole in a quadruple-folded sheet of black construction paper taped over my zoom lens. Cropped. Hey, it won’t happen again for another 105 years. I did what I could with few minutes the clouds gave me. (click image to enlarge it)

Camera: NIKON D200
Aperture: f/11
Shutter Speed: 1/80 sec
Mode: Manual
Focal Length: 200 mm
ISO: 100

Please Refract That Statement


I snapped this picture (click it to get a better look) only moments after a theater usher or manager or other staffer had informed us that we were about to watch a movie that had not yet been released, so any mobile phones must be turned off to avoid the temptation of snapping a pic or video of the top-secret information (can you tell I’ve been reading Cormac McCarthy?).

She didn’t say anything about just plain cameras.

I wasn’t there to scoop the masses and destroy Disney’s hopes of springing its latest animated wonderment on the public. Before the movie began, I was fascinated by the room lighting. From what I could tell, uncolored bulbs shone up from sconces, through two adjacent filters — one blue, one red — mounted several inches above the bulb and pointing opposite directions from one another at an obtuse angle.

The light shooting up the wall was blue or red, depending on the filter color. More interesting to me was the fainter, reflected light. Yellow came back from the blue filter, and green came back from the red.

At the least, it’s an efficient way to add color to the room — four colors from one light source. For me, it’s also a visually pleasing blend of geometry, physics, and art.

Space Aliens are Strangers, Too

(Note: Those reading “Shootings” may continue in Part Ten.)

Aren’t there former civilizations on Earth who wish they had never seen an explorer, and who did everything in their power to stop them from invading their territory?

Me, October 26, 2005, questioning whether contact with extraterrestrials would be a good thing for humans.

If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn’t turn out well for the Native Americans.

Stephen Hawking, April 2010, speaking in his new Discovery Channel special “Into the Universe.”

I would never compare my mental abilities to those of Stephen Hawking. Because this is the first time I’ve said anything before a highly-respected genius did, I thought I would use it here regardless of the topic.

While his genius probably makes him a better prognosticator than most, Hawking does not know exactly why life from another planet would (if they could) arrive at Earth. If I share only one thing with him, however, I’ll take portents of doom.

Hawking also says in the Discovery Channel special that humans should stop trying to communicate with extraterrestrial life forms, deeming it “a little too risky.”

So, it took a world-renowned mind to tell us, “Don’t talk to strangers.”

What if We’re All There Is?, Regular Life blog

Aliens May Exist, but Contact Would Hurt Humans: Hawking, Yahoo! News, which got it from:

Don’t talk to aliens, warns Stephen Hawking, TimesOnline (no link, because I think it spawned a pop-up)

Lumps of Air

“Okay, you start changing, and I’ll come back to check on you in a minute,” I said.

Hanging around while he changes almost guarantees he will waste time putting on the Benjamin show instead of changing into his pajamas. A carefully orchestrated series of distractions, it simultaneously entertains the boy and frustrates the parent.

“Hey, I could feel you talking in my dresser,” he said.

I noticed that his feet were propped up against the side of his dresser.

“You mean you could feel the vibrations in your feet while I talked?” I said, opening my throat more to make my voice resonate. I’m a sucker for pretty much any audience, so naturally I wanted to enhance his experience.

“It’s like, a lump of air came from your mouth and went into my dresser, and I felt it.”

I blinked. Part of me hit the ceiling.

“Yes, son, that’s right. The sound from my mouth pushes the air into waves and they go into other things and make them vibrate. Very good, Benjamin.”

“Thanks, Dad.”

“Okay, keep going. I’ll come right back.” I said.

I turned and walked away so he would start changing his clothes. My explanation probably wasn’t scientifically accurate, but I figured it would do in the moment. I didn’t have time to set up a wave lab like we did in high school physics.

I walked straight to the refrigerator scratch pad to jot down our conversation.