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 First Washington – Part 2

(Note: See Part 1)

Reflective RowingThe town boasts of being the first named after President George Washington. While I can understand their having pride in that, it’s the barbecue sauce that first made it stand out for me. We’re not here to discuss the possible uses of cider vinegar, so I saved that for TripAdvisor.com and Yelp.

After my second day’s work, I made my way back to the waterfront to continue my quest for good sunset colors on the water. I grabbed a few quick shots of buildings and then focused my attention on more natural scenes.

A public riverside park just south of town failed to provide me an inspiring view, so I continued south, determined to reach the shore in time. I turned right onto the first road that seemed to head that direction, and tall, narrow trees formed a dense forest in swampy land on both sides. I slowed as the road ended at a “T” intersection.

The only thing that stood between the river and me was… a large, multi-level colonial-style home. On either side of it, stretching as far as the road went, were more large homes of varying architectural styles equally adept at blocking my inner photographer from getting the view I needed.

(click any pic to enlarge)

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The First Washington (Part 1)

Funny how those of us with a photography problem can take something amazing like a riverside view of an autumn sunset and turn it into something disappointing.

iPhoner LonerI sat in the departure gate and snapped on a manual focus telephoto lens, then aimed my camera around at the various travelers sitting across the room. I don’t use that lens much, but when I do I always get at least one shot I like.

It occurred to me that mobile phones have made waiting areas quieter places. Sure, you get the occasional talker, but for the most part those with phones were texting or browsing the web, or in some other way silently reaching out to those they know rather than striking up a conversation with (and potentially annoying) the strangers in the same room.

Ain't No Shoeshine When She's GoneI wondered whether the shoeshine lady should sit with her head buried in her phone’s display or look up and try to catch the eye of potential customers. Her marketing style was in stark contrast to a smartly-dressed woman I saw later that day, who kept arbitrarily repeating, “Sir?” at various male passersby. She was not shining shoes, but had she been, the leather in that airport would have gleamed.

At my layover point, Charlotte, North Carolina, I ran in hopes of reaching a distant terminal in time to catch my next flight. The two laptops in my backpack and the camera bag over my shoulder made this harder than it had to be, and I used the moving walkways to my advantage. Besides the extra speed, it makes me feel like I’m walking on the moon.

(click any pic to enlarge)

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My department has shifted to remote install when the customer is amenable to it. So, rather than fly off to somewhere new when my next turn at a new installation came up, I drove into the office as usual, then sequestered myself in a vacant corner office.

That last part, I didn’t mind at all. I have enjoyed my own office in the past, and my first foray into remote installs was a welcome return to that aspect of office work.

The other part, however, was a bit of a letdown. Work knows, so I don’t think I’m risking anything by mentioning it here (insert music of impending doom).

Those who travel extensively for work will think I am nuts, but three or four week-long trips per year keep it a novelty for me. Being from a small town and until six years ago living in a fly-over state, and lacking my own travel budget, I see business travel as an opportunity, not a hassle. The Monday-Friday scheduling helps, too.

Often with the enthusiastic help of the customer, I always scope out locally-owned restaurants for lunch and dinner, and almost invariably find a nearby notable site to visit. All of this is in addition to the superb work I do while on the clock, of course.

Then, as those who read here know, I write and post pictures about it. Firsts still excite me, and that includes meeting people from other regions of the country and seeing the sites, no matter how mundane they may seem to those who take them for granted.

Speaking of mundane, my lunch breaks during my first remote install featured the same boring food as my normal workday lunch — a sandwich or leftovers from home. If I couldn’t go out for lunch and see something new, at least this time I could close the door to “my” office and find true solitude.

Not being on the road means more time with my family, and that is a good thing. Sure, a break is nice occasionally, but the time that I had two install trips in one month was kind of rough.

We don’t expect the onsite installs to go away, as the complexity of the job and the customer’s preference sometimes will dictate that we make a physical appearance. Generally those will come with destinations in or near larger cities, so while the frequency of travel posts here will be curtailed, I might not have to try quite as hard to find something worth sharing.

Everyday life between trips might be another story.

Canada: The Shots That Time Forgot (Part 2)

(Also see the first Canada : The Shots That Time Forgot)

I left this out of my post-trip posts because I thought it warranted an entry all its own. It made a big impression on me and left me with a big question.

There’s a sport in Canada, created by a Canadian, played only in Canada. Since 1909 it has been putting a different spin on a sport that has been marginalized in the United States.

I’m talking about five-pin bowling, a less strenuous but not easier form of the 10-pin game seen elsewhere. The ball is substantially smaller and lighter than in traditional bowling, and the pins are smaller and spaced farther apart.


I approached the ball return, which looked exactly like any other, and chose one of the marbled balls. There were no holes for my fingers, and this was just as well since my large knuckles rarely allow me to properly grasp a full-size bowling ball unless I choose one that’s far too heavy for me. My geeky arms immediately thanked me for traveling to Canada. So much lighter was their burden, they barely noticed.

I looked down the lane at the five paltry pins, downright dainty little things. This was going to be easy. I didn’t know the top score possible in this adorable game, but I surely would approach if not reach it.

(click any pic to enlarge)

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