En route to Fort Worth from Austin, we detoured to Glen Rose, Texas where we stopped at Dinosaur Valley State Park. A big thanks goes out to Stephanie’s dad, Barry, for alerting us to this awesome site. Here we saw tracks left by dinosaurs 113 million years ago, when the area was covered by a shallow sea. (For once, I’m not exaggerating.) The tracks have been preserved over the years in the riverbed of the Paluxy River, which has isolated them from the air and in turn prevented significant erosion. I thought we’d be at the park for about 30 minutes, but we spent a few hours hiking the trails in the park and locating tracks in several different spots. It’s really mind-blowing to walk where these prehistoric animals once roamed, and it gets you thinking about the evolution of life. Of course, if you think too hard, just outside the park is the “Creation Evidence Museum.” I really wanted to check it out, but once Stephanie realized that it was so I could make fun of it, she vetoed the idea.
We spent our night in Ft. Worth with some friends we had met eight years earlier while we were all on our honeymoons. It was great to catch up with them, and meet their three month old son, Jack. Stephanie was psyched to try some local pizza ever since our Austin friends had told us there is no good pizza in Austin.
My return to Fort Worth comes 30 years after I was last there. Looking back on my childhood, it was not the brightest time of my life, but that didn’t stop me from showing Stephanie some sights and telling tales of a younger, less sure-footed Elliott.
We started at the Fort Worth Stockyards. Historically, this district is where cattle and other livestock were bought and sold, earning Ft. Worth the nickname “Cowtown.” Now it’s a touristy stretch of bars, western-wear and souvenir shops. Also at the Stockyards is “Billy Bob’s Texas – the world’s largest honky-tonk.” We also found a spot where instead of a mechanical bull, you can ride remote controlled mechanical animals including a saddled bass, a TCU horned frog, and a “reinsteer” (a longhorn with horns and reindeer antlers).
Next up were the Fort Worth Water Gardens. I remember this place (a) from when I was a kid, and (b) from the final scene of the movie “Logan’s Run.” The Water Gardens feature three different pools of water. The most famous is the “active pool” where you can walk down stepping stones and watch the water cascade all around you. It is hard to describe the feeling of being surrounded by water falling all around you at different levels, while you stay dry, beneath the street level in the middle of a city. There’s also a “Quiet Pool”, which is again below street level, lined by perfect rows of trees, and designed to make you feel very small in the large space around you. Finally, there’s the Aerated Pool, where sprinkler-like apparatuses spray huge water droplets into the air before they fall back down into the pool. The designer tried to design it to look as if you walk on the plane of water created by the sprays.
After this we drove to my old neighborhood, where we saw the house where I lived, the synagogue where I was Bar-Mitzvahed, and even the rectory where my boy scout troop met. At the rectory, there is a short drainage culvert that I was afraid to walk through when I was 12, but was able to successfully – and probably illegally – navigate with Stephanie’s help. At the synagogue, we were lucky to find a maintenance person who was working and willing to unlock the doors and let us in. I had fun showing Stephanie the location of my dad’s old office, the sanctuary, and even the podium I stood at as I delievered my Bar Mitzvah speech. We also paid a visit to the Hulen mall where in the early 80s I discovered the joys of video games. The mall is now a crowded behemoth, especially since it was less than two weeks before Christmas, but the cool clock is still there, so yay.
After exhausting the possibilities in Fort Worth, we headed off to Dallas.