We continued south on I35 through Dallas and found a campground in the southern suburbs. We found a small park along a small river or brook and were able to do our daily walk. From the campground we drove down to Fort Worth about a half hour ride and visited the Stock Yards. Fort Worth is at the end of the Chisum Trail and was a jumping off place for the cattle drives heading North after the Civil War. when the trains reached there both Armour and Swift built meat packing plants. Today these plants are sitting across from the stockyards and are decaying. The stockyards themselves aren't really in use except for the daily tour. The areas that used to be pig and sheep pens have been converted to shops and restaurants. The entire complex with one exception is being used as an entertainment and tourist attraction and is known as The Fort Worth National Historic District.
Twice a day about a half dozen cowboys drive a small heard of about a dozen long horn cattle down the center of the street. We stood on the curb and watched them saunter down the street. To me the herd looked like it was sleep walking. Somehow I don't think this really represented the cattle drives of the late 19th century but it did give us a chance to see long horn cattle.
After the "drive" we went into the visitors center and viewed a twelve minute video called "the spirit of the west" followed by a 1 hour tour of the district. The tour took us through the area where over 1,000,000 hogs and sheep were held and auctioned to the restaurant, shops and the stockyard station now used for an excursion train. From there we went to the Cowtown Coliseum which is still used for rodeo and other events before we went into the Livestock Exchange Building which is still used for cattle auctions. Today cattlemen sit in a big room with television screens at the front and they bid on small cattle herds being displayed on the screens with vital statistics scrolling across the bottom of the screen. The winning bidder is required pay his bid and bring a truck to pick up his herd at the ranch were they were videoed. We exited the Exchange and walked across the Cattleman's Catwalk over the remaining cattle pens which could hold a "couple a thousand " head but were empty except for the small herd that we had seen in the drive down the street and some sheep in another pen.
At the end of the pens we went into Billy Bob's Texas the world's largest Honky Tonk where the tour ended for us. One family with kids paid a dollar less and ended at the pens as they didn't want to take their kids into the Honky Tonk. I think they were smarter then us. Except for on piece of nostalgia, a poster from the Madison Square Garden Rodeo's which as a kid I used to go to there wasn't anything in this large saloon and concert venue that interested us. Don't get me wrong this place is no dive it's serious entertainment and has booked top name performers including Willy Nelson it's just not our kind of place.
For people of our generation a trip to Dallas is incomplete without a stop at Daly Plaza and the Sixth Floor Museum (Dallas Book Depository) from where John Fitzgerald Kennedy the 35th President of the United States was shot. There is plenty of parking in lots around the museum and there are displays in the buildings lobby as well as on the sixth and seventh floor of the old book depository. The stuff in the lobby was mainly concerned with all the conspiracy theories and didn't attract our attention. On the sixth floor, where the shot was fired, there are displays highlighting Kennedy's life, election, the blockade of Cuba, confrontation with Russia and Bay of Pigs debacle before it zeros in on his visit to Dallas and its aftermath. There were pictures and videos including the Zabruder film (an 8 mm home movie made by on of the bystanders) as well as the search, capture and subsequent assassination of Lee Harvey Oswald by Jack Ruby a Jewish nightclub owner and mob connected person. It's all there and well worth the visit. On the seventh floor was an exhibit about presidential elections and the impact of television on them. Each election from Eisenhower vs. Stevenson to Bush vs Kerry was represented by TV adds, bits from the debates and buttons and other paraphernalia.
We celebrated my birthday in a lovely Dallas sea food restaurant
called Cafe Pacific which has a well deserved food rating of 27 from Zagat's
Debby had a salad and I a very tasty and peppery sea food bisque. we both had a three-onion sea bass which Zagats calls unbelievable. It was very good and we pigged out (ate more then we should have) on the shoe string “addictive sweet potato fries”. We finished the meal with coffee and shared chocolate mousse cake which was common and unremarkable.