PHOTOS: Our summer excursion to Dallas

Our trip to the Dallas-area trip began not as a mini-vacation, but as a necessary part of some medical testing for my wife. We began listing some fun but inexpensive sites to take in while we were there, and there were even plans at one time for my mother-in-law to join us from Shreveport, La.

It ended up being just the four of us, though, and it turned into a much-needed good time. With Jennifer’s tests out of the way on Wednesday and no follow-up scheduled Thursday or Friday, we were free to enjoy the remainder of our time. Wanting as much rest and downtime as possible, we slept in Thursday morning, and spent all afternoon at the Texas Civil War Museum in Fort Worth.

IMG_7082The war between the states is a fascinating time period for my wife and me, and one we try to share with our children whenever possible, as they’ve not yet studied it in school. The museum appears somewhat modest from the outside, a simple building marked with only a black-and-white sign. The education began outside, however, with a large cannon that once defended Charleston, S.C., against Yankee invasion. Inside, an impressive collection of military arms, uniforms, flags, medical equipment, ladies’ fashion and more thrilled us. Tommy especially loved listening at the audio stations, where he could hear for himself the drum or bugle calls that guided soldiers’ actions on the battle field. In the small theater, a brief film detailed Texas’ vital role to the Confederate cause. We were even treated to a re-enactment of Confederate Gen. Joseph Shelby’s final address to his troops, in which he announced his decision not to surrender at the war’s end. Instead, Shelby led about 1,000 of his troops into exile in Mexico. Of special interest to me was a corner containing several artifacts connected to Confederate President Jefferson Davis, of whom I am a direct descendant on my mother’s side. At less than $20 for the four of us, our stop at the museum was well worth the time. We easily could’ve made an entire day of examining the exhibits and dioramas.

IMG_7088The next morning brought a soggy trip through a powerful thunderstorm to Grapevine, where we boarded an antique train car for a ride, courtesy the Grapevine Vintage Railroad. The railroad offers several different tour experiences, pulled by either Puffy, an 1896 steam locomotive, or Vinny, a 1954 diesel engine. As Tommy is much-enamored with the railroad, it was an especially special treat for him. Surrounding the train depot are a variety of fun shops, including a glass blower, an artistic metal worker and many other fascinating artisans, along with the requisite eateries. Friday night, of course, was the moment I’d been waiting for. We met hundreds of North Texas Jeep enthusiasts at Texas Motor Speedway, where there was plenty of socializing, perusing some 385 tricked out Jeeps, door prizes and, finally, a couple of thrilling parade laps around the track at 60 mph!

We had an amazing, if exhausting time, and we’re looking forward to going back

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