These boots are made for walkin’!

Greetings from Texas!

Whenever there is a holiday weekend I am on the first plane outta Dodge! The urge to put my feet in as many places as possible means anytime I have a long weekend (a.k.a. a free day off of work!) I must travel somewhere. It’s a blessing and a curse I willingly bear. #YOLO (is that still a thing? I don’t think it is. What are the youngins saying in 2014?)

My first trip of the year was to fly somewhere not bitterly cold since “below average temps” is the theme so far this year (except in SoCal where the weather is laughing at the rest of the country. What’s up, 70 degrees in January!) I traveled to Dallas/Fort Worth to visit my friend Hillary, and I brought some warmer temps with me to Texas and enjoyed a weekend in 60 degree weather!

I’ve been to Dallas a couple times when I was younger for dance competitions, but outside of Six Flags I don’t remember much. And I’ve only been to Fort Worth for a quick 24 hour trip, so I was excited to finally spend a fair amount of time in this area and not feel rushed.

My flight landed at 10:30am on Saturday of Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, and our first stop might be my favorite of the trip. We drove straight to lunch at my beloved Texas BBQ restaurant, Spring Creek! I ordered my usual beef sandwich, and for dessert the amazing coconut cream pie! So delicious.

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Reunited with cousin Hillary at Springcreek! Yippee!

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I’m in my happy place!

After the best lunch ever, Hillary and I drove to downtown Dallas and visited the Dallas World Aquarium. This is such a cool place and has a lot more to offer than just fish! (Though fish are awesome on their own too!) The Dallas World Aquarium was a unique experience because it didn’t feel like I was in a typical zoo or aquarium, but rather like I was in the rain forest. Some of the birds and monkeys roam freely through all the greenery overhead while guests wind through the exhibit admiring amazing creatures. You can see the detail that goes into each habitat to make the animals feel at home. http://www.dwazoo.com/

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It’s so tropical…I love it!

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Sweet indoor waterfall!

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Mom, is this the stork that delivered me?

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This is my first time seeing an anteater! They are twice as big and twice as odd looking as I thought they would be in real life. But also kinda cute?

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Pretty bird, pretty bird!

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There is a sloth curled up in a tree…I promise it’s a sloth!

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Stingrays! (in case you needed clarification)

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This sea turtle will most likely outlive us all.

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Does this lady feeding the fish have the coolest job ever or the most dangerous job ever? These fish were very very hungry!

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The manatee was shy and did not want to interact with us pesky humans.

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Nemo moves very fast! Out of the 15 pictures I took, ONE came out clear. No wonder they had trouble finding Nemo! He’s a quick one.

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‘Sup, Dory!

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Yay, Dory(s) found Nemo!

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I think Mr. Fish was giving me shade for my impersonation. Fair enough, Mr. Fish!

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My artsy photo of Hillary and the jellyfish. Story time: I once found myself surrounded by a school of jellyfish while snorkeling alone in the Caribbean. It was the scariest 30 seconds of my life. True story.

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PENGUINS! I would love a penguin to live with me. Are they friendly? They look friendly. And they dress dapper, which I appreciate.

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I like this penguin. He is smart. While the others are crowded on the rock island, he gets to swim in the pool all by himself!

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I’m imagining this as my future backyard!

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This sawfish was just hanging out on the roof over the human walkway like he didn’t care. He was so chill. Nap time probably.

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Bonnethead shark. Man, the ocean is a weird place full of weird creatures. It’s pretty incredible!

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Seahorses are so cool and so weird!

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Giddy up, seahorse!

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These are baby seahorses and they are the size of a baby’s pinky finger nail. Like for real. Tiniest living thing I’ve ever seen that was not under a microscope!

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This is Pintada, the resident Jaguar. To me it seemed like Pintada could use a friend in the exhibit. She seemed a bit lonely. Or maybe it was just nap time.

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This is the American flamingo, and they are the most brilliantly colored of the six species of flamingos.

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Time for a trip down memory lane: Who has decorated someone’s lawn with plastic flamingos in the middle of the night?? Classic prank. I need a friend with a yard in LA…

After the Dallas World Aquarium we walked to the JFK museum. It was one of the more somber museums I’ve ever visited. The Museum overlooks Dealey Plaza, located on the sixth and seventh floors of the warehouse formerly known as the Texas School Book Depository, where the shots that killed President Kennedy were presumably fired. I learned a lot of facts I didn’t previously know about the JFK assassination. Such as the one and only time the AP wire went silent for a few moments in remembrance of JFK was on November 25, 1963, a national day of mourning declared by President Johnson. http://www.jfk.org/go/home

After the museum, we decided to rest our feet and watched “American Hustle” (great movie!) After the movie we drove back to Forth Worth and ate dinner at Tokyo Cafe. Yay sushi!!

tokyo

Order the Tok fries. So good!

On Sunday Hillary and I explored a ghost town about 75 miles west of Fort Worth. Thurber, Texas most notable today for supplying Fort Worth with its bricks, was a boom and bust town. Born in 1888 as a coal mining town and later producing paving bricks that were used throughout Texas, Thurber was mostly abandoned by the 1930s due to  locomotives switching from coal to oil.

Hillary and I explored the remains of Thurber, which included St. Barbara’s Catholic Church, a restored miner’s house, a train car, and the last remaining smokestack. We tried to explore the Thurber Cemetery, which is unique as it had three sections with separate entrances: one for Protestants, one for Catholics, and one for African Americans. Unfortunately the road to the cemetery was gated and locked, and although we could have hopped the fence, it was unclear how far of a walk it was from the road. All we could see was a winding road uphill. (Update:  I recently learned that you ask the clerk at the Ice House Restaurant to gain access to the locked cemetery. You’ll leave your driver’s license in exchange for the key to the gate. This would have been useful information a few weeks ago. Bummer!)

highway

Thurber sits along the highway.

Thurber town

Here are some of the remaining buildings in Thurber: a dilapidated building that was probably offices or a small warehouse, the smoke stack, and the fire station.

smokestack

The last remaining smoke stack in Thurber.

Smokestack history

A brief history on the coal and oil production in Thurber.

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Historical markers are found all over Thurber depicting its boom and bust history.

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There is some business left in this ghost town…a restaurant, which resides in the old ice house.

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Thurber was the first city in Texas to be completely electrified and amenities included refrigeration and running water. http://www.texasescapes.com/FEATURES/Thurber_Texas/Thurber_Texas_ghosttown.htm

Church

St. Barbara’s Catholic Church that served the Catholic residents of Thurber.

church porch

Hillary and I on the church steps. St. Barbara’s has been been restored as a non-denominational church.

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The church was  built in 1892, and was later given the name St. Barbara’s because St. Barbara was the patroness saint of miners.

Miner's house

A restored miner’s house for visitors to explore

miner's house front

This was the standard living quarters for the Thurber miners.

Thurber house

In its prime, Thurber was the largest town between Fort Worth and El Paso. And it was wholly owned by Texas and Pacific Coal Company. Every resident lived in a company house, shopped at company stores, drank at the company saloon, attended a company school, danced at the company opera house, and worshiped in company churches. http://www.thurbertexas.com/history/index.html

Miner's house porch

It’s a gorgeous day for exploring a ghost town!

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This train car carried the miner’s to work everyday.

Thurber

Thurber has eight State historical markers, all within a one mile radius of downtown Thurber. These markers include the Snake Saloon, Hotel Knox & Mining Office, New York Hill, the brick plant, the cemetery, St. Barbara’s Catholic Church, Big Lake & Dairy, and Thurber’s first coal mine. http://www.thurbertexas.com/home.html

Train car

Hillary braved going into the unlocked train car first…it could use some TLC.

Kayla in train car

It was a little icky inside, but it is cool that the train car is open for exploring.

Train car window

The train car is awaiting funds to be fully restored.

Train car 2

For 30 years Thurber was the most important mine site in Texas, producing 3,000 tons of coal daily. The coal provided fueled predominately for the Texas and Pacific Railroad and thus Thurber helped railroads open up the great southwest. http://www.thurbertexas.com/history/index.html

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Here are some of the local residents still living in Thurber. They seem like good neighbors!

Mingus

We also drove to Mingus, Texas which is two miles from Thurber. After Thurber closed, many of the residents moved to Mingus. Hillary and I were intrigued by this drive-thru general store type business.

Dido

We also explored an old cemetery in Dido, Texas because why not! It might sound creepy, but, to me, I find the history in cemeteries fascinating.

It was a beautiful Texas winter day to wander through the remains of Thurber and to take photos for our blog, Off the Grid. Situated right off the highway, Thurber invites visitors to explore its history and discover a piece of Texas’ past.

Our next stop of Sunday was to eat! We ate a late lunch/early dinner at Rodeo Goat in Fort Worth. It was so delicious! I had the Nanny Goat hamburger (which included goat cheese, my favorite!) and we sat out on the patio enjoying the nice weather. After we ate, we shopped for a bit, and then headed back to Hillary’s house to watch the season 3 premiere of “Sherlock”!! Such a great show.

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Enjoying my hamburger on the patio at Rodeo Goat!

On Monday we just hung out and had a chill day. We ate lunch at Fort Worth’s famous Joe T.’s, established in 1935. So much history! And apparently they have great margaritas, but I will have to try those another day when I’m not driving around town.  http://joets.com/

After we stuffed ourselves with deliciousness at lunch, we drove around the Stockyards and downtown Fort Worth. Then I begged Hillary to take me to Braum’s for ice cream (it’s awesome), before I headed to the airport.

I had a wonderful time exploring the sites and history of Dallas-Fort Worth, and I know there is still a lot left in Texas for me to discover! Until next time!

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