Monday 8th September. Dallas, Texas USA
Wow, if I thought I was tired when I got to El Paso, that was nothing! Yesterday was the most stressful day of my trip so far. I had 650 miles to cover in the day, and I'd notified the owner of the driveaway car that I'd have it at his house in Dallas between four and six o'clock in the afternoon. My departure from El Paso was a little later than planned, due to me setting my watch alarm for 6:00p.m instead of 6:00 a.m! I figured that at an average of eighty miles an hour all day, the Camry would be safely in it's owner's driveway by four o'clock. That was before I realized there was another time difference of an hour between El Paso and Dallas. The accelerator would have to inch that little bit closer to the firewall. Luckily the interstate highway is built for speed; smooth and straight and wide. Watching out for the Texas cops was nerve wracking, but as it turns out they must have all had the day off. I was making good time but was still only just on schedule, and the damn Toyota engine is electronically governed to cut out at 120mph.
It was a mild, sunny day, perfect for driving. Since I discovered the Camry's built-in thermometer, I've started to take an interest in temperature. It was eighty degrees when I left El Paso, and barely hit ninety for a while before dropping back into the high eighties as I approached Dallas.
That was yesterday, and I really don't remember much about that drive. By the time I got here and spent an hour careering around the ridiculous maze of overpasses that links Fort Worth and Dallas, my nerves were shot. Trying to drive and read computer generated dircetions at the same time, combined with the copious amounts of coffee that I'd consumed along the way... my head was reeling. Finally, I found the delivery address, and the owner was happy to receive his new company car. He wasn't the least bit concerned that I'd exceeded my allotted mileage by a hundred miles so all my stressing over a potential $25 fee had been in vain. He gave me a lift to the nearest gas station, where I freshened up and phoned Tim and Suzan, my hosts from Frisco just north of Dallas.
I was in luck! Tim and Suzan were on their way into Dallas to treat Suzan's daughter out for a birthday dinner. They would be pasisng just a few blocks away from me, and would swing by and pick me up. Fifteen minutes later, their Honda Civic wheeled into the gas station, followed in another car by the birthday girl Angela, her husband Ryan, Suzan's son John and their friend Justin. I jumped in with Tim and Suzan, and we weaved our way through the busy streets towards 'Aw Shucks' oyster bar.
The food was great- our little table was covered in mixed platters. Tim said I know how to time my visits, turning up just in time for a big feed of seafood! I don't go nuts over crustaceans, but there was loads of fish and chips, and spicy chicken wings to keep me happy. We all returned to Tim and Suzan's house and sat outside by the pool until late, Tim repeatedly assuring me that not every Sunday night was like that in their household. Normally they'd be in bed by ten. Both of them had to be up early for work the next day, Tim to teach World Cultures to sixth graders, and Suzan to keep the computer systems at Pepsico running smoothly.
Tim had offered to take me into school to talk to his class about some of the places I've been. You know me- I never miss a chance to tell my travel stories, and what a captive audience- they can't get up and leave even if they wanted to! He kindly *thank God* let me sleep in, and came back to pick me up at lunchtime. I talked to two different groups of kids, who were full of questions...
"What's your favourite place you've ever been?"
damn Crocodile Hunter...
I met the school principal and several of Tim's workmates, and it was great fun to be back in a classroom, and to be able to help Tim a little during a couple of classes classes. Some of you may know that I actually spent two years at university training to be a teacher, before I decided to become a crazy loon, as Rosemary from Florida calls me! I could empathize with Tim; one of his classes has twenty-eight students, including a Bulgarian girl and a Korean girl neither of whom understands English. To me, that would be a full-time job, just teaching those two. No wonder Tim drinks so much! *just kidding mate. I know it was a special occasion! *hee hee*
On the way home from work, we stopped in a local park. This incredible bronze sculpture caught my interest. It's actually a series of sculptures; two cowboys rounding up about eight longhorn cattle. It's a representation of Texas' history, and as a work of art is very impressive.
Suzan was working late; a new computer system that had to be ironed out. She'd left some steak to marinade in the fridge, and barbecued shishkebabs were on the menu. Tim cooked up some cuscus, defrosted a few spicy Italian sausages and opened us a couple of bottles of Paulaner Hefeweizen wheat beer, while I speared cubes of beef onto long skewers, with green peppers, onion and mushroom. Tim was in charge of the barbecue, and I took over fetching the beers. It's a tough job, but someone's gotta do it!
Suzan turned up just in time for the shishkebabs, which were delicious. I think all of us were tired from last night, but it was such a beautiful evening that we couldn't resist firing up the hot tub. Like I said, this is hard work!