On my way up to Dallas, I saw a grass fire! Texas has had so little rain lately that fires are starting to break out all over the state. All the computerized signs on the roads say: "STATEWIDE FIRE DANGER - BURN BANS IN EFFECT". I was a bit worried until I saw an online map Saturday morning of where the fires were, and apparently none of it was near I-45.
But as I approached the halfway point to Dallas, I saw odd clouds low on the horizon. Smoke? I got closer. Yes, smoke. I got closer still. Around mile marker 149, I saw a field on fire! Off to the right, there was a huge blackened area with raging fire all around its edges. Fortunately the smoke was blowing away from the interstate, so I didn't have to turn around. There was a police car sitting with lights flashing in the right lane, just to slow down traffic, and a fire truck by the side of the road. I saw some firefighters, but they didn't seem to be doing anything. Perhaps they had put down water ahead of the flames and were waiting for it to work.
When I reached Dallas, I got a room at a Motel 6, and went over to Babe's Chicken in a suburb north of Dallas. We had a large group (we estimated about 25 furries would show up), and we were told we might have to wait an hour. (Babe's doesn't do reservations on weekends for some reason.) It was more like 45 minutes, though. Yay!
We all went in and sat down (and I counted 21 furs present). Babe's is a down-home style restaurant, and one of those places with a very simple menu. Your choices are: fried chicken, chicken fried steak, roast chicken, chicken tenders, barbecued chicken, and pot roast. Before the meat comes out, they bring biscuits. Also, you don't have to order veggies; they bring bowls of veggies and keep 'em comin'. I had chicken fried steak and some mashed potatoes and green beans. Yum!
At the end of the meal, we went up to pay, one at a time. I went to the cashier the same time as youngvanwinkle did. The cashier asked why we had such a large group, and he let it slip that it was Sky's birthday. She said, "Oh, did we sing him the birthday song yet?" I told her he didn't want a song, a guess which turned out to be correct. :}
Then we went over to Sky and shell524's apartment, a nice townhouse that we all managed to fit into. There was Guitar Hero, the video game where you play a guitar. The guitar-shaped controller isn't quite as big as a real guitar, but bigger than a ukulele. Also there was cake! And beer! And I gave Sky a present: binoculars! Now he can spy on you.
The evening ended with a bunch of us crowded around one guy who was showing weird video clips on his laptop. We kept blocking traffic. :}
The next day, Sunday, today, before leaving Dallas, I decided to go visit the Sixth Floor Museum, which tells about the assassination of Pres. John F. Kennedy. The museum is located on the sixth floor of the former Texas School Book Depository. You can see the window that Lee Harvey Oswald fired out of, although you can't look out of it because they've made it into an exhibit, walled off with glass, with stacks of book boxes placed around it the same way Oswald put them to conceal himself, including the three boxes he perched his rifle on.
However, you can look out of the window next to it, which gives almost exactly the same view. I looked out and saw Elm St. the same way Oswald saw it (except the trees are bigger and starting to block the view now). And right at that moment, I heard sirens. Eerie! (There was an ambulance and a fire truck going by at the time.)
The museum exhibits start out by setting the scene: the giddy optimism of JFK's America (he was one of our best-loved Presidents, EVER), the programs he started, such as the Peace Corps, and the problems he faced (e.g. the Cuban Missile Crisis; by the way, the first day of the crisis happened to be the day Jay Ward tried to show up at the White House bringing his "Statehood For Moosylvania" campaign. Boy, did he pick the wrong day.)
Then they describe the motorcade. The streets were lined with crowds of enthusiastic well-wishers. It was like a rock concert! JFK figured he was safe; after all, everybody loved him. But then... shots were fired. Some interesting displays at the museum: the teletype paper with the initial report of the shooting, on which the operator repeatedly typed "GET OFF GET OFF", trying to get other teletype operators to clear the lines; and a display of the cameras used by the various amateur photographers, the last of which is Abraham Zapruder's home movie camera.
Other exhibits describe Oswald's capture and abrupt assassination by Jack Ruby, and the subsequent investigations of the incidents. Was Jack merely a revenge-minded citizen, or were he and Oswald part of a vast conspiracy? Who knows? I'll say this, though: the quality of film, especially amateur film, was pretty poor back then. Analyzing all those grainy images of various details from the afternoon of November 22, 1963 in Dealey Plaza must have driven the experts nuts. I saw reproductions of the photos and kept thinking of "Blow Up", starring David Hemmings. (Hmm, I wonder if that movie was inspired by the JFK investigations.)
Then I went to the gift shop and bought a big button that says "If I Were 21 I'd Vote For Kennedy". (Well, I'm not 21. Not anymore.) Then I went outside to take pictures of Elm St., the grassy knoll, and the triple underpass. (Heh, Commerce St., on the other side of Dealey Plaza, is a mirror image of Elm St., but nobody cares about it. Nobody famous was ever assassinated over there.)
Then I headed home. On my way south on I-45, I made sure to look for that burning field near mile 149 again. Of course there was still a huge charred area, but the fire was out. Whew! Oddly, there were several trees standing within the charred area that appeared to have survived the fire. How'd that happen?
And what's starting all these fires in the first place? Probably idiots throwing cigarette butts out of their cars. Stop that, everybody.
So anyway now I'm home and I still need to go get my luggage out of the car.