May 24, 2013 Leave a comment
To imagine Texas was, for most of my life, to conjure up visions of wide-open spaces that were—unlike the lofty wide-open spaces of Nebraska—not attractive. Brown, dusty, too flat. The kind of place only people who had no interest in “the beautiful” could live. To imagine Dallas was to think of the John F. Kennedy assassination, enough to reject it out of hand. Then there was that TV show which I loathe (I think is not too strong a word). I clearly remember watching “Dallas” and coming to the realization that those were horrid people treating each other abominably (never mind they were a fiction), and I did not watch it again.
I assumed the Ewings—like uninviting landscapes and unimaginable violence—represented Dallas.
Even after I had lived here for quite a while (I came here in 1994), those were my impressions of the city. Friends would ask why I disliked the place, and I would respond self-righteously, “Where’s the beach? Where are the mountains?” And then there was the whole political thing. Any state that would defeat Ann Richards as governor in favor of George W. Bush was probably not a place I wanted to live.
Of course, it took many years for me to realize I was—at least in part—transferring my feelings around many personal realities and experiences onto Dallas. I’ll write about that some other day.
Perhaps in my incipient old age I have finally begun to learn with St. Paul “in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content” (Philippians 4:11). I suppose he did not mean Texas as opposed to Massachusetts or the other four states where I’ve lived, but it works (as a mindlessly awful pun). The fact I can quote Philippians says a great deal about my growing up all over the map. I went to summer camp as a kid. Nebraska Baptist. We learned the Bible.
For three days this week I took a small R&R with my inamorato after the end of the semester in an unexpectedly attractive and interesting part of
Texas. It’s a drive of only two hours from downtown Dallas—the small town Glen Rose (population 2,444). It boasts several attractions, the primary one, Fossil Rim Wildlife Center. It’s a special place, dedicated to saving wild animals (mostly from Africa), both individuals and species.
I suppose some “tree-huggers” or “animal rights activists” or whatever will think it’s criminal or cruel or arrogant to have these animals trapped in a 2,000-acre “zoo.” Well, go ahead. Think that. Individual animals live there of three species that are extinct in the wild. Several species are part of intense efforts to save them and re-introduce them into the wild. The Attwater’s Prairie Chicken project of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, of which Fossil Rim is a part, is one of the most important to Texans.
Rather than drive through the Center on the public roads, we took the four-hour “Behind the Scenes” tour with a trained volunteer guide. She took us into secluded and sensitive areas where important work is in progress with endangered animals. It’s the only way to see the place. For example, we saw close up the Attwater’s Prairie Chicken project.
See, I can write simple informative stuff. So if you live anywhere near Glen Rose, get yourself out to Fossil Rim.
By the way (this is a commercial), if you want a real getaway, I can tell you where to stay overnight —the Paluxy River Bed Cabins. If you had told me before this week there was such a place two hours from downtown Dallas, I would have said you were crazy. If you want seclusion in the woods, but also want all the comforts of home (except TV and Wi-fi)—rustic but clean and comfortable, quiet, and did I say secluded?—well, get yourself a cabin. It’s not a chalet in Colorado, but it’s a treasure close to home.
Glen Rose has some Texas oddities. There’s the Creation Evidence Museum. I kid you not. The center of dinosaur studies in Texas (Dinosaur Valley State Park –not much of a place to see) is close by, and some wacko Bible literalist has set out to prove the dinosaurs lived only 6,000 years ago, the fictitious time Biblical literalists have chosen for God’s fait accompli creation of the earth. My worst fears about Texas, realized. (We steered clear.)
In the past year I’ve come to appreciate and enjoy downtown Dallas. Now I’ve found a perfect place to get away from the city. Next thing you know, I’ll be singing the praises of Texas. Perhaps.