Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Dallas, Texas—Days 311/312

Its funny because I have met a lot of people on my trip this year who have instantly thought I was a cowgirl because I was from Arizona. Mostly its these people who have no idea how drastically different Arizona is from Texas. (Is really any other state like Texas? I doubt anyone would dare to think so). OBVIUSJLY me being from Arizona meant that I was a boot wearin’, plaid lovin’ rodeo queen despite my protest that I wasn’t. Now I do admit that these types do exist in Arizona (and yes, we do have “Rodeo Break” which allow us two and a half extra days of vacations in February) but let’s face it, I don’t live on a ranch and I definitely don’t have a horse and more importantly, I do not own a cowboy hat. Clearly those are the makings of a cow-person, none of which I have. Plus my family is British so we’re really more of the fox hunting type when it comes down to it.

Anyways now that I was in Texas, I wanted to see them for myself because obviously they are not anywhere else other than the lone start state of Texas.

You know, the real cowboys. The pickup trucks. The families with matching mullets.

Yeeeeeeeeehaw! Welcome to Bushland!!

So far Texas has proven to be all that I thought it would be, more or less. Lots of truck drivin’ Republicans sporting their “W2004” bumper stickers and actually, truly wearing cowboy boots in public.

My god. It really exists!

I was able to spot several of them at the Fort Worth Zoo, where I spent the two mornings I had in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. The zoo is actually a really nice zoo despite the five dollar parking fee they throw at you upon entering. Both days I bought tickets (although Wednesdays are half price!) and I located the hippos on the first day without a problem. They were near the elephants (as always) and while the elephants had THEIR names posted outside their enclosure, my hippos didn’t.

Luckily the two were out of the water just as I arrived. As the first one literally dashed into the water (and as I fumbled with my camera) I got just a few shots of him/her before taking almost 100 or so shots of the second hippo who causally finished up the last bits of their hay before wandering down into the water. I cornered some zoo workers who were leaving the employee lot right next to the hippo enclosure (nicely located for my benefit of course) and they told me that the hippos names were Daisy (the stroller) and Jonsey (the dasher). I was confused to how “Jonsey” was spelled (its pronounced Jones-see so I thought for sure it would be spelled Jonesy but I cleared this up on the second day when I actually talked to the hippo keeper himself (after a nice man radioed him in for me) and he told me that sure enough, it was spelled J-O-N-S-E-Y.

I watched the hippos for a bit the first day and then decided to come back the second morning which turned out to be a good move. The second morning (half price Wednesday!) the hippos were not only NOT in the water, but not outside yet. This was a good sign for me because this meant that I could get pictures of them whenever they did come out. So I patiently waited and soon a keeper came out, laid out some hay, and the doors opened for the two hippos.

I could tell the two apart very easily and the keeper pointed out even further how much smaller Daisy was, and how much darker Jonsey was. The woman who helped me on the first day weren’t quite sure who was who—their discussion about which hippo was which involved one of their sister in law’s sp-and-so who talked with so-and-so who thought Daisy was the lighter one—well, this woman turned out to be right.

So I happily took pictures of them chomping away and then when they were finished, gracefully easing themselves into the pool which was just filling up. They swam around a bit and drank from the huge fountain of water shooting into the pool and filing it up which delighted several families around me. I took pictures and videotaped for a bit and decided that my job was done.

After going to the zoo on both day I had nothing to do but to kill time. I spent the first day reading all about photography at a Barnes and Noble (its just like a library! They let you just SIT there and read!) and doing a variety of aimless things like driving around and checking the internet. The second day I was more productive and went to the John F. Kennedy museum in Dallas (I ventured to the other side which was over 20 miles away!) and spent the afternoon completely fascinated. The museum is amazing and on the 6th floor where Lee Harvey Oswald shot Kennedy (ok, ok, so we don’t REALLY know that he did it but c’mon…) and looking out of the window was completely eerie. Anyways, it was really quite something and I drove back to my hotel after spending a good few hours there. I then went and grabbed something to eat (last night it was sushi at this great little sushi bar, tonight it was a salad at Chili’s) and went back to the hotel.

I set the alarm for 6am for my 8:30am flight to Houston.