travel photography

A Quick Trip to Dallas

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Two weeks ago I took my first trip to Dallas, Texas. I’ve been to Texas many times before - Houston, Austin, San Antonio - but not up to the place that perhaps coined the phrase “everything’s bigger in Texas.” It was…different. Everything really is bigger - roads, buildings, my anxiety…

The reason for my trip was for the biannual board meeting for the professional fraternity, Alpha Rho Chi, I am a member of and volunteer for. We rotate around the country for our meetings and this time went to Dallas where another one of our members lives. Dallas is far from my first choice of places to visit, but we don’t particularly choose our meeting locations for sightseeing, since it’s about business first and foremost, and most of the time is spent in a hotel room, making plans, reviewing policies and discussing goals. There was a high school music conference going on at the same time in our hotel and mid-day on Saturday we heard something in the atrium that made us pause our business and go investigate. On the third floor balcony, surrounding the interior of the hotel by 360 degrees, the student choir was singing hymns, their conductor on the ground floor, their voices echoing through the 12 stories, a perfect acoustical design, while guests came out of their rooms on all levels, memorized by their harmonies.

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We finished out work in the early evening on Saturday, and heading downtown from Richardson, where we were staying, to see a bit of the cultural district in the West End. At Pioneer Plaza, my friend and fellow board member, Hao, graciously agreed to model some of Todd’s bow ties, so we had a mini photo shoot among the native grasses in the garden where great Yucca stabbed me in the legs and bronze Longhorn Cattle statues looked on. From there we wandered to the John F Kennedy Memorial - a monument that from a distance looks like a giant Lego block. Designed by architect Philip Johnson, it is described as “an open tomb, that symbolizes the freedom of John F. Kennedy’s spirit.” The closer I got to it, the more powerful the feeling it invoked. Inside, you are all at once surrounded and unbound, tethered to earth by the monumental concrete and connected to the heavens as you look skyward.

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We admired the rest of the historic architecture of the area, including the Dallas County Tax Office and County Records Building and walked to the Grassy Knoll, the spot by Dealey Plaza where Kennedy was assassinated; a white “X” on Elm Street marks the spot.

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After a dinner of homemade tacos and playing with a yellow lab named Marley, four of us headed to the Uptown district to go out (not just stay out) AFTER my bedtime to go dancing at the Round-Up Saloon. If you have never been to a country and western bar and dance hall, you need to stop what you are doing and find yourself one. I have never seen men dance so well in my life and I left determined to learn out to at least line dance and maybe two step a bit more. At some point in the last decade I lost a bit of self consciousness and stopped caring what others may or may not think about me and decided to dance because it makes me happy, talent be damned.

I’m not sure when or if I will go to Dallas again in the future, but I’m glad I got to see a few things while I was there. My next Texas trip is in less than 2 months, this time back to Houston. Onward!

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Oberkochen

Oberkochen

Sunday late morning we drug our suitcases through the subway to the station to catch our train to Oberkochen.  Thank god for the station master who connected with us over American football (he has a friend from DUNDALK of all places) and helped us figure out that our train splits in two halfway through the journey so we’d better get on the correct half – success on that front.

Germany

Germany

Remember that time I went to Germany last month?  I honestly can’t believe it’s been a month already; work’s been a little slow and life been more than a little nuts and I’d be perfectly content to go back and sit out on J’s balcony with the light stretching on until 10 pm, looking out over the town to the wooded hills beyond, imagining just how far we could walk without running into a highway.  When my friend Jordana moved to Germany last year and made an open invitation to visit I knew I would take her up on it and soon.  It was a nice change to have a trip that centered around visiting a friend rather than cramming in as much as possible and I think we managed a balance around the two. 

Ireland Review

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When I think of Ireland, I remember it both in snapshots of moments in time and in fluidity of the senses.  I remember an exhaustion that seemed to permeate by body all the way to the bone.  Perhaps because we left on election night, perhaps because of the overnight plane ride and 3 hour bus ride, perhaps because the sun set by 4:30 each night.  I remember the bus ride through Connemara and feeling like I might explode if I were able to adequately take in all the sights before me.  Hills and sheep and a double rainbow and famine walls and loughs and stories of killer sheep and mussel farming and sheep dog training.  Driving through these rural and isolated villages, I began to feel as if one day, I too could live a simpler life.  I learned how peat is collected and dried for home fires and I gradually began to appreciate the smokey smell that permeated my clothes and nostrils and all of the night air as we walked through Salthill on our final journey home each night.  Like the damp, you can never quite shake it. 

I wish we had slowed down a bit.  It was lovely, but rushed, as so many trips are.

Dublin --> Galway --> Connemara --> Galway --> County Clare --> Galway --> Dublin

I want more time.  Time to stroll along the Salthill Promenade.  To sit on Quay Street, drinking a Coffee Werk + Press latte.  Eating woodfired pizza and delicate cakes from Kai.  Listening to music with a Guinness.  Savoring a cup of tea.  Soaking in the people and bars and parks and gardens and sitting with pen to paper and pouring it all back out.

It was such a quickly planned trip during such a personally and globally wretched time, that I don’t know if it lifted me up or wore me more down.  But I suppose that since I can look back and remember fondly the natural and architectural sights, the timber of Irish voices, the taste of black tea, the feel of rain and salt air and wool socks, the smell of peat, that it was the right decision after all. 

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Congrats!  You made it all the way!  This country was so beautiful that I couldn't decide on fewer photos.  These encompass Galway, Connemara, Kylemore Abbey, the Burren, and Cliffs of Moher.