Dealey Plaza and a Dallas Super Tour
My first in-room breakfast of the trip after nearly 2 weeks – which cost approx $6 – is good. The room is not however. It’s so dark, even with the curtains open, that I have to turn all the lights on in the room at 9 am! It’s just so gloomy and depressing. As I glimpsed last night, the view out of the windows is into an alcove with other bedrooms so there’s hardly any natural light getting into the room.
I go downstairs at 10.10 am to get the shuttle to Dealey Plaza. Only it’s AWOL again and “won’t be back for at least 10 minutes.” What a complete waste of time this ‘service’ is. Luckily there’s an empty taxi passing the hotel so I wave it down. It takes me to my destination for $4. It rained overnight – there are still puddles on the ground – and the humidity has gone, thankfully. It’s a lot cooler as well, around the mid-70s.
I’ve booked the 10.45 am Dallas Single Trolley Tour with Dallas Super Tours around the city sights. When we depart, it’s just me and the driver. We do pick up another lady at the first stop but that’s it for passengers today. The tour is supposed to be ‘non-stop’ but the driver does stop once and let’s us walk around, plus she lets the lady off later on and tells her when the next bus will be around. They’ve obviously changed the schedule since I booked but I don’t have the time to get off anywhere. My next appointment means I need to stay onboard and do the tour in one go.
The tour lasts about 90 minutes and is good. I get to see around the city and learn about its history from the driver-guide. There wasn’t anywhere that cried out to me to get off and have a look around so the fact I didn’t use the hop on-off facility wasn’t an issue. Back at the departure point I’m in good time for my pre-booked tour of the JFK Sixth Floor Museum in the former Texas School Book Depository, the scene of JFK’s assassination.
Sixth Floor Museum
Before the bus tour I had a few minutes to spare so I walked up to the Grassy Knoll and then stood where Zapruder shot his video footage of the motorcade. I then stood in the middle of Elm Street where a big white X marks the spot where JFK took the second bullet in his car. It is well worth doing this walk-around before entering the Museum as it gives a few reference points for when you’re inside looking at the exhibits.
Pre-trip research clearly pointed to the need to book the Museum ahead of a visit. There are many tales on TripAdvisor of people not doing this and having to wait for 2-3 hours for the next available slot. So I booked ahead. And you have, again, been warned. 🙂
The tour has a 12 noon to 12.30 pm time slot to enter and I join the queue to get in. We get processed about 4 or 5 at a time, and are then directed into an elevator up to the 6th Floor. On getting out, the place is jam-packed with people. There are way too many people here and it’s very difficult at the start of the tour to get close enough to the display panels to read them and see the pictures. They are clearly letting too many people in during each designated 30 minute slot. It’s a real crush and not very good IMHO.
There’s an audio tour via headphones to accompany the panels. It is good, but it does repeat some of the displayed information. The start of the tour is really slow going and I just had to be patient until folks moved along until I could get to read the panels properly. But there’s not actually a lot to “see” per se. The Museum is basically just a sequence of display panels that tell the background to, and story of, the assassination, in chronological order. It finishes off with a few more panels devoted to the aftermath including all the controversy and conspiracy theories.
There’s some historical film and TV footage from the day itself and just a few physical exhibits. The actual corner of the floor where Lee Harvey Oswald fired the shots is cordoned off with clear glass but they’ve made it look like it did on the day. I’d read some complaints in visitor reviews about not being able to stand in the exact spot yourself but I thought the re-creation was the better way. No photos are allowed however on the 6th Floor. You can go up to the 7th Floor and whilst there’s not much to see there, you can stand in the corner to get an idea of Oswald’s sightlines – you’re just a floor higher.
JFK’s assassination was obviously a hugely significant event in history and the Museum is generally well done. As per the Clinton Library, its significance means more to US citizens than me, but JFK was, like Clinton, a global player. I’m glad I visited, again to see and learn more.
West To Fort Worth
All done I call the hotel to pick me up via shuttle so I can get back to my car. Amazingly the shuttle is available – it’s 2 pm – and it arrives in about 5 minutes. It’s $5 to get out of the car park, which is not too bad, and I set off for Fort Worth to find Cowtown Segway Adventures. In researching what to do in Dallas, Fort Worth kept coming up as a supposedly interesting place to visit. Unless you want to visit a particular museum or something in Dallas then my city tour earlier shows you all there is to see. Fort Worth offers something else to see on a short visit.
So, as said, Fort Worth seemed a good idea. It’s about a 35 minutes drive west and on the way I pass Jerry’s Palace AKA AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, in Arlington. However it’s not that close to the Interstate and you can’t see much of it from the road apart from the top of the stadium dome. Arriving in downtown FW I discover that parking on all the street meters is free at the weekend. Unfortunately there’s an event on in the central square and it takes me a while to drive around and find a free spot to park.
I had spotted the Segway ‘shop’ whilst looking where to park and I then trace my way back, about a 5 minute walk. There’s just me and a young couple for the tour, plus two guides. It’s clear that the younger of these, Kaden, is a newbie whilst his mate Nathan seems in charge. I’d never been on a Segway before so figured this tour was a good way to see the city and experience something new. But at $90 it was not a cheap choice. We all get some initial training in the shop – it seems quite easy – and then are let loose on a wide sidewalk just around the corner from the shop. Whilst riding soon becomes kind-of second nature, it does require good concentration. But if you lost control I reckon you’d take quite a tumble and the machine is quite heavy. I wouldn’t want it falling on me! If you can ride a bicycle, I don’t think you’d have any problems on a Segway.
City Tour By Segway
The tour starts with Kaden as lead man. We’re soon zooming along sidewalks and then we stop. Kaden then tells a story or two about the city’s history, and about where we’ve stopped. This is the pattern for the rest of the tour. Kaden and Nathan move between me and the other couple and chat with us all as we ride. After a while we turn onto the road and ride along in a line, stopping and negotiating traffic lights and other hazards. I ask Nathan and he tells me that we are classed the same as a bicycle so have the same rights – and responsibilities – as them. Which means keeping a lookout for half-asleep car drivers and pedestrians alike.
Most of this tour is around downtown seeing various landmarks – although not the Stockyards on this tour unfortunately – and then we head downhill to the Trinity River and the parklands it runs through. Here we get some more pure riding on the paths alongside the river. It’s very nice scenery as well. We cross a couple of bridges and then start the trek uphill and back to base. We’re somewhat later than planned but it’s been very enjoyable. I learnt a lot about FW and it’s a nice city.
I’d like to have seen the historic Stockyards but I was constrained by which tour I could take by time and date. I did the Best of Both Worlds tour and mistakenly assumed such a named tour would include them, but it didn’t. Never mind. It was still a good tour and experience though, and a good way to see the city. It lasted just over 2 hours and whilst $90 was a lot, I think it was just about worth it.
Sunday Night At The Movies
Last night I’d checked out the live music options in Dallas for Sunday tonight and the only things on were folk singers and heavy metal bands. Just what I don’t want to see. Well, it is a Sunday I suppose. So I decided to go and see Blade Runner 2049 in an IMAX cinema. There are very few IMAX screens in the UK but they are relatively common in US multiplexes in major cities. All the reviews I’d read about the film said to see it on the biggest screen possible, so I searched for an IMAX in Dallas and found a couple.
The late running of the Segway tour however had ruled out the first option and I needed to get my skates on to make the second, if I wasn’t to have a long wait for the next screening. I had no lunch today as I wasn’t feeling hungry for some reason but I know I need something now before the film as it’s nearly 3 hours long. So on arrival, just before 7 pm, at the Cinemark 17 and IMAX Theatre on Webb Chapel Road near I-635, I load up with a large hot dog and Sprite and get into my seat just in time for the 7 pm start time. It’s a bit of a rush, but I made it.
It was a very good film but I’m not sure about the IMAX cinema. For a start the cinema’s bass speakers can’t handle the film’s score and were physically rattling in the ceiling and walls, which was a bit off-putting. But it was the IMAX aspect ratio that I found a bit disorientating for this film. It was almost as if the screen was too big and you never knew where to look to make sure you weren’t missing out on some small detail or other in the corner. I’d seen Gravity on IMAX in Chicago a few years ago and this issue didn’t arise or bother me then, so I’m not sure what it was about Blade Runner 2049. But a good film nevertheless.
I’m out of the cinema at 10 pm and it’s a short 20 minute blast down some of the Interstates that criss-cross the city of Dallas before I exit and arrive back downtown. I’m hungry again though and seek out some food, coming across a McDonalds not far from the hotel. I grab a Big Mac and return to the hotel. The burger was still warm as I eat it in my room, thankfully, swiftly consumed with a cold beer from the fridge. A bit of sports catch-up on the TV wraps up a very full, and long, and interesting, day. Lights out!