Texas was good to us. I was impressed with the cleanliness and charm of downtown Fort Worth with its landscaped sidewalks complete with Texas star adornments.
Our modern hotel--located directly across the street from the convention center where Alyssa competed--was absolutely beautiful with a perfect hint of rustic Texas cowboy.
Alyssa loved surrounding herself with down pillows on her very own "big" bed. She more than once remarked how she would miss that bed, as well as the spacious shower with oversized shower head.
She also got room service one morning. I think she was more taken by the experience of having someone deliver a meal to her door than the actual taste of the food. She also thought the mini ketchup and Tabasco bottles were pretty great too. She brought the ketchup home for Caleb as a souvenir.
We opted out of Texas BBQ but instead indulged in a daily dose of Tex-Mex. It just may be my definition of heaven. And you know what's great about it? Alyssa's favorite meal of beans and corn tortillas never cost us more than $1.62. Once it was only $1.25!
On Sunday we went to church--a Spanish ward. Jon and I thought that was fun, Alyssa not so much.
Church was only a few blocks away from TCU so we decided to go look around campus.
TCU has had a bit of a rivalry with BYU so Caleb is not a fan. We took these thumbs-down pictures for him:
But truth be told, I don't have anything against TCU and I really enjoyed peeking into their beautiful football facilities.
Next, we visited the Fort Worth Stock Yards for our most authentic Texas experience. So cool!
Not often do you see a long horn right in the middle of the street. Well, unless you're in Texas, I guess.
They also have their own version of the Hollywood Walk of Fame:
Such a fun little shopping mall at the Stockyards:
When in Texas, you must wear a cowboy hat, right?
The Candy Barrel was the favorite shop. Lys loaded up on goodies.
We ran into a few of her teammates as we were waiting for the daily cattle drive:
Just look at those horns!
Then it was off to the livery to ride a horse.
The handler was busy roping a steer when we arrived.
Such a fun day. Such a neat place to visit.
On our last day in Texas, we decided to see what Dallas had to offer. Pictures can't begin to capture the size of the Cowboys stadium. Mammoth!
Even their fan gear is oversized:
The Rangers park is really nice, too:
We were most interested in the JFK sites.
The monument below was actually located right next to the convention center where Alyssa's meet was held in Fort Worth. The morning of his assassination, JFK gave a speech in this location before going to Dallas for that fateful motorcade through town.
The building on the left was once the Texas School Book Depository. It was from the sixth floor window on the far right where Lee Harvey Oswald allegedly fired the fatal shot.
JFK's limousine turned right at this intersection into what is known as Dealey Plaza. It is now a national historic landmark.
The plaza has this display to show the route the motorcade took:
This is the infamous grassy knoll:
X's in the middle of the street mark the location where the president was hit.
A few blocks away is the Dallas memorial to JFK. It's supposed to be an empty room symbolizing that his remains are located elsewhere but my immediate reaction was, "This is it?" It just seemed like it needed something more. Here's a view from the inside of the "room":
An outside view of the memorial:
The Old Red Courthouse where Jack Ruby stood trial for the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald:
We purchased a short book called, "Dealey Plaza National Historic Landmark" and Jon and I poured over its information. Fascinating. So many unanswered questions surround this tragic moment in our country's history.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch...er, densely populated suburban neighborhood, Grandma was tending to the needs of Natalie and Caleb. And let me tell you, her job was NOT easy! We left for Texas right smack in the middle of Caleb's finals. School is always stressful for Caleb but being finals week meant Grandma had to step in at the most stressful time of the entire school semester. One of Caleb's classes had four finals. Four finals for one class! There were computer glitches with one and misunderstandings about when Caleb could complete some of the others. I was in Texas trying to sort things out through email with the teacher. He had to petition the district to reopen a final that had been closed and blah, blah, blah...the details are too stressful to even try to recount. In addition to tending to all of that mess, Grandma had to help Caleb complete a ridiculous 220 question online final and help him study for a difficult science final, too. Then on Friday Natalie learned she would be the next week's VIP and she had to help her complete a poster which included photographs to take to school on Monday. See what I mean? Stressful!
At one point in Alyssa's meet on Friday, I was overcome with nerves for her and worry for Caleb and Jon looked at me and asked, "Do you need a crazy pill?" If he'd had such a thing, I'm sure I would've taken it!
Thank goodness for all of Grandma's help. It all got done in the end. Alyssa had her best meet ever, we got to see lots of new things and we left Texas with wonderful memories.