After decades of flying in and out of Dallas-Fort Worth airport, we decided to stay on the local ground long Chromosaurs enough to see whether these are real cities. They are. We have been staying about halfway between the two, in Irving, Texas and can report that Dallas seems to be upscale and interested in money while Fort Worth is more laid-back and informal. They do seem to feel the need to compete -- each has a zoo and a botanical garden and an art museum although one would think one of each would be plenty for one area. Since upscale Dallas charges for each and Fort Worth offers each free we have spent more of our time in the latter city.
We Glockenspiel, Texas style got our major impression of the wealth of Dallas on our initial entry into the city, where we passed several walled developments, which are unlike those seen elsewhere because these houses are not only large and imposing, they are huge and overwhelming -- towers and extra walls and multiple stories and everything one can imagine in the way of excessive architectural detail.
There is a website called RoadsideAmerica which lists oddball things to see including quite a few in this area, so we have visited the Chromosaurs (dinosaurs sculpted of chrome auto parts); the toothpick sculptures of Waxahachie which include an airship and a model suspension bridge and the space shuttle, seen in the window of an antique shop; a clock tower in Grapevine, Texas, which displays a computer-controlled shootout between two cowboys twice a day (the computer picks the victor, so you never can tell in advance how the story Philip Johnson water sculpture will end).
A more elaborate and formal sight from the list is the Fort Worth Water Garden designed by the architect Philip Johnson. This includes a pool surrounded by trees with water flowing down the surrounding wall, a pond with many fountains spraying, and a multiple waterfall affair. Although one can walk or clamber down to the base of these waterfalls it is best to view them from above, we thought; in fact, several childeren and an adult drowned or fell to death fairly soon after it opened in the 1970s, and the design had to be reworked for Michelangelo painting safety (shame on the architect in the first place.)
On Sunday we took the light rail train into Dallas and watched the Veterans Day parade, which included an astonishingly large number of JROTC cadets. The most moving sight was a very very very old veteran Tuskegee Airman who rode in an antique automobile.
The Kimbell Museum in Fort Worth is a beautiful rather small art museum sponsored by a local philanthropist. One of its treasures is the first known painting by Michelangelo, one of the few "easel paintings" he made.
We found our way to the Fort Worth Botanical Garden and after enjoying the rose garden spent a happy Fort Worth rose garden hour wandering along paths in the woods. It was wonderfully quiet and peaceful even though the traffic on the nearby highway can be glimpsed through the trees.
We couldn't leave Fort Worth without seeing the stockyards, no longer in business but popular as a tourist site now that they are a national historic landmark. Every morning and afternoon cowboys (and at least one cowgirl) drive a small herd of longhorns past the spectators near the animal pens. We can also report that Cattlemen's Restaurant provides superior steak lunches. Longhorns at the Stockyard
Of course, to reach all of these destinations requires driving through many small separate towns shoehorned into the metropolitan area. Staying off the freeways requires heroic navigational effort.
They call this part of Texas (i.e., the Dallas - Fort Worth area) the "metroplex." It's the largest metropolitan area in the South, with six and a half million souls. Now we have a slightly better understanding of the metroplex, but there is still much more to discover. We'll come back again.