Hellen and I made the drive to Dallas last Friday for the wedding of Tyrel Gear, former student and family friend. Now Hellen has navigated parts of Dallas more than I have, and we have not been afraid, individually or with others, to tackle other major cities, but this time you would have thought it was our first trip outside the city limits of Muleshoe.
We did fine on the trip over, going down highway 114 through Dickens, Guthrie, Benjamin, and Olney, where we were treated to events more in keeping with our country mouse existence. Things like enjoying the horses in the pastures of the 6666 Ranch, making ourselves at home in the Santa Fe on the Brazos shop in Benjamin before we were greeted by the salesperson, who had been unaware of our presence at first, seeing prisoners from the Benjamin jail dressed in vintage black and white stripes leisurely visiting outside in front of the jail and being taken to lunch by the sheriff at the little grocery store where we ate a salad and sandwich carefully crafted by a grandmother whose toddler grandchild played in her walker amid her toys in the store. At Olney I pointed out where my grandmother used to live and from which vantage point one scene from "The Last Picture Show" had been filmed.
We did just fine until we reached Bridgeport where the traffic increased and the highway became more complicated. Hellen turned on her GPS, I reached for the map, and we moved right along.
Until we really moved into Dallas traffic. Our speed shifted down to 40mph. I talked when I should have been quiet, the GPS girl recalculated when we would be turning as she had instructed us to do, but made us feel like we turned wrong, which threw everything out of whack. We made it past Sam Moon's, a landmark with which Hellen was very familiar, and started looking for other markers, which wasn't always that helpful. We wound up on the Dallas North Tollway, where we were supposed to be, we thought. We paid 55 cents to get on, and not long after made a necessary U-turn and got to pay 55 cents to get back on, and finally drove past the hotel, which you couldn't get to from where we were, which led to a few extra circles and loops and deja vu until we finally turned into the circular drive in front of the hotel, going the wrong way.
Then we fumbled with luggage and tips, checked in, saw some familiar faces, and finally made it to the room. Then we discovered there would be a hefty charge to use the Internet services, which we thought was unnecessary when even Motel 6 has free Internet.
So by then it was suppertime and we decided we would treat ourselves to Pappadeaux's, figuring there would surely be one close by. We ask directions at the front desk and also asked the GPS, and off we went, secure in the knowledge that we would easily find it. Silly us. Thirty minutes and many more recalculated turns later, we pull into Pappadeaux's where we cruise the full-to-overflowing parking lot for another ten minutes until we fall in behind some people who are obviously walking to their car to leave. I jump out to become a human barricade if necessary to keep someone from zooming in from the other direction before we can pull in, and we make it.
Now if the parking lot is full, you know the restaurant is going to be full, and of course it was. We are told it will be an hour wait as we put our name on the list, and we wander out onto the patio in hopes of a place to sit down for the hour wait. After 45 minutes passes and we hear "Anna, party of two, last call," we think seriously about changing our name and seeing if we can get away with it. But we don't. About three more last calls go unheeded, so we know others were not willing to wait it out and surely we will be coming up next. I tempt fate by going to the restroom and sure enough, before I can finish my task, I hear, "Hellen, party of two," so out I go. I checked and we actually got seated in 55 minutes, so we couldn't complain. Supper was great. Since we learned a few things on the trip over, the drive back to the hotel was a piece of cake.
Back at the hotel I go for some ice, only to discover the ice machine is not working. You'd think they would have enough money to keep the ice machine working, what with all that slush fund they should be building up with the Internet charges. I reported it, to no avail, because the next night when I tried again, it still wasn't working.
St. Andrew's Methodist Church was at one end of the tollway and the reception site, the Old Red Museum was at the other, with the hotel in the middle, no doubt the reason for that hotel being suggested for lodging, and we made it to both addresses fine, after having been told by my friend Carol Hausler, with whom we had lunch at the hotel, an easier way to leave the hotel. The wedding was lovely, the reception was fun, and by the time we left, the streets were a bit more deserted, making navigation less stressful. Getting out of the underground parking, however, proved to be our undoing. For some reason we found the arrows a bit tricky and made a few extra loops of deja vu before finally venturing out into the street.
I trudged up to the third floor for ice and we relaxed with a Coke while watching the weather report, which assured everyone that the snow, which had begun falling thinly in the wind which was picking up strongly, would not stick.
So when I pull back the drapes the next morning, I laughed out loud to see the blanket of snow decorating our rooftop view. But traffic was almost nonexistent and we drove slowly and made it out of town with no mishap, although we saw a few cars in trouble as we went. By the time we were out Dallas proper, the snow was much lighter and not a problem. We chose to make the return trip on I-20, thinking it might be easier to find help in the event the snow caused a problem, which it wasn't.
So we made it back to our sleepy little town without a hitch and didn't even need the GPS to find it. And we have fallen back into easy driving, having only one traffic light to navigate and absolutely no toll roads to deal with.