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After last weekend’s great experience at the Texas Horse Park I was excited about spending my Saturday morning working with Groundwork Dallas again.  This weekend’s task was Operation    A. C. T. (A Clean Trinity) with two different staging locations along the Trinity.  I choose Rochester Park.

It was a very different scene than last weekend.  Not only the location which was a well frequented park that I drive by daily as I travel down 175.  But, also the number of volunteers.  There were at least 20 teenagers gathered at the pavilion ready to work when I showed up at 9:00 am. 

We were all given a T-shirt, gloves, a trash bag and litter sticks (always wanted to operate one of those).  We headed out across the park to gather trash.  I started out super ambitious and stopped about every 8 inches picking up a cigarette butt or a Bud bottle cap.  

You know how somethings in life happen for a reason.  Do you pay attention to Karma?  So just 24 hours before one of my peers who is responsible for the blog at my 9 to 5 job went off on litterbugs.  Publicly on the world-wide web.  And the litter bug happened to be a smoker.  My immediate reaction was come on, smokers can’t get away with anything these days.  24 hours later I am face to face with thousands of cigarette butts and countless litterbugs. 

Okay, okay I am not perfect and I have littered before.  But gracious!  I picked up more beer bottle caps, butts, cigar wrappers, and candy wrappers than I ever expected to encounter.  I am all for live and let be when it comes to anybody’s fun of choice.  But, this experience really brought it home that each individual action can really add up to a bad experience for everyone if people don’t take responsibility for themselves. 

As we continued to clean the landscape began to change and bag after bag began to pile up in the dumpster.  And before I knew it we were packing up and hot dogs were being distributed and happily consumed. 

But this is when the really good part started.  Groundwork Dallas’ leaders gathered all the teenagers and begin to talk about the upcoming summer jobs that are coming available.

The more I heard the more appreciated the opportunity and the teens involved.  All of the teenagers there are able to work with Groundwork Dallas each Saturday from now until the end of the school year on a volunteer basis.  Once school ends the top ten performers will be selected for a paid summer job.   Each day would be split between morning activities building and maintaining the trails and the afternoon “fun” activities, like water sampling at the Trinity River Audubon Center.  But the coolest fun activity was working with D.O.R.B.A. (Dallas Off Road Bicycle Association) in building a mountain bike that each individual will take with them at the end of the summer.

As the details of the summer program were being worked through with the teenagers, and hot dogs disappearing I slipped back to my “real” life.   But, as the week has gone on I have keep up with Groundwork Dallas and marked my calendar with the next opportunity to get involved.  And I realize that preserving the number one reason that I love where I live, the Trinity Forest, is worth being a part of my real life. 

To get involved with the Groundwork Dallas visit, www.groundworkdallas.org

To see the results of last week’s efforts, check out the pictures of Kay Bailey Hutchison’s visit to the Texas Horse Park on Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Texas-Horse-Park/264995458881

To learn out more about D.O.R.B.A visit, http://www.dorba2.com/

I bet very few Dallasites know the Great Trinnity Forest is the largest urban hardwood forest in the nation.  Or, that there are amazing trails that allow you to take a vacation from the concrete jungle out your back door.  But, I am do and consider myself extremely lucky. 

At first I tried to tell people about the trails, but they just stared at me like I had two heads and offered me Mace.  Finally, I stopped talking about it.  As Sissy says “Fine, forgit it.”  I thought if they can’t appreciate that this part of Dallas has something to offer, fine they don’t to need to experience this. 

On Saturday, I realized I was wrong.  I have been trying to do volunteer work for Groundwork Dallas for over a year.  They are an organization that is supported by the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Parks Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Programs.  On Saturday, I finally made it to a trail building.

I rolled out of bed, threw on some clothes (in hindsight the wrong clothes) and headed to the location on my GPS.  It was only miles from my house, but in a land far, far away.  Through a gate, down a dirt road, through another gate, and into nothing but green as far as the eye can see.  This is Dallas people.  Minutes from downtown Dallas.

There was a bit of loitering at first.  Being my first time I didn’t know what to do but sit and wait till they put me to work.  Then, I realized that we were waiting on someone important to show up.  I soon found out that this person was the President and CEO of the Trinity Foundation, Dr. Gail Thomas.  She arrived and off we go on the grand tour of the Texas Horse Park.  I gradually learn that what we are doing here is the final stage of clearing a trail that Dr. Gail Thomas, and Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison will be riding next week at the inaugural trail ride. 

Touring with dignitaries was not what I expected, but was very interesting.  I also learned that raising $350,000 by May 15 would ensure that the city funding for the Texas Horse Park and the associated Trinity Forest trails would remain earmarked.  Without that money things would grind to a halt.  Okay, so that puts the day’s activities in perspective.   More importantly, it made me realize how important it was to convince my friends that the trails do exist and that they are worth investing time and money to save and expand.

After the tour, I was antsy to get started.  Seriously, let’s get to work.  Around that time another set of volunteers showed up and we all headed out with clippers, trimmers, and other cutting implements and started to work.  A few hours later the final path had been cleared.  And, I felt great.  A minor player in the quest to save the world. A baby step, but a step none the less.

To get involved with the trails, www.groundworkdallas.org

To learn more about the very cool plans for the Texas Horse Park, www.texashorsepark.com

Holy moly, go to Green’s Sausage House right now.  It’s about 10 miles outside of Temple and it’s the kind Texas destination I love.  Part convenience store, part deer processing plant, part restaurant.  What more could you possibly ask for.  One foot in the door and I was done for.

You walk straight into the convenience store that has all the staples a local could want: potato, milk, Ms. Baird’s white bread.  And every Texas rub, jelly, salsa or relish that the curious traveler would delight in.  But at 9:00 on a Saturday morning the fresh kolache counter seems to be the main draw.  If you venture back past the 12 packs of Pearl Light you see the meat counter with every kind of homemade sausage, bacon and country ham imaginable.  I sink knowing that I am about to spend a pretty penny before I leave here. 

I head into the restaurant and meet the friendliest waitress that tells me that people drive for miles to come sample the wares.  And, after 10 minutes I know that she is right.  It is a constant stream of people heading in the door grabbin kolaches and heading out. 

I order the breakfast burger.  Bun, sausage, fried egg, cheese.  Delicious! 

Run, don’t walk, to Green’s Sausage House.

Monday – Friday 7 a.m – 7 p.m

Saturday 7 a.m. – 6 p.m.

16483 State Highway 53

Temple, TX 7501

www.greenssausagehouse.com

It’s only been a few hours since my last meal, too few, frankly.  But, when you pass a Mexican food restaurant in a small town that looks like every F150 around is parked in front you make an exception.  Especially when you find that the additional parking in back is packed as well. 

Tres Hermanos is the exact opposite of the elegant Café Vera Cruz where I ate earlier today.  The walls are wallpapered in a pattern meant to convey wood paneling with images ducks landing on lake scenes and whitetails deep in the woods.  It’s actually replicating all the scenes I just saw at Whitney State Park which is just around the corner. 

I order the RIOVERDE which one of the lighter meals I might be able to find.  A beef taco, bean chalupa, and a guacamole tostada.  The guacamole, taco, and salsa were great.   But, the best part of Tres Hermanos was the people watching.  My waiter was extremely good looking in a I’m stuck in this small town brooding youth sort of way.  But, even he wasn’t a draw (thank goodness since I am old enough to be his mother – what a terrible realization) it was the people from this community.  Families.  And, not just parents and kids, but multigenerational dining.  And, lots of it.  It’s just not something that you see in the Dallas restaurant scene. 

Maybe that’s why I like traveling in Texas so much is that you come to places like Tres Hermanos and remember what’s important and why life is worth living. 

Tres Hermanos

800 South Colorado Street
Whitney, TX 76692
(254) 694-8434

 

Veracruz Cafe

It’s 2:30 on a Friday afternoon. I am not at work. I woke up this morning exhausted at the mere idea of the amount of to dos that I have over the course of the next 5 weeks and dragged myself into the office. Around noon I knew that I was done and that I had a 6 hour drive to San Antonio ahead of me. Knowing that I would have to trade these four free hours on Friday afternoon for even more on Sunday night to catch up, I willingly made the trade.

I have been to Veracruz Cafe before. It has been one of my favorite places to recommend for a new and different dining experience in Dallas. It’s not your typical TexMex and it was a cleverly decorated very cozy dining experience in a great neighborhood. Quite some time ago, I heard that they expended the Oak Cliff location and opened a much larger restaurant in Cedar Hill. I have wanted to check out both for years now.

 

Veracruz CafeSo as I headed down the road on the next Texas adventure I saw the Duncanville location out of the corner of my eye. A quick U-Turn and I had arrived. It is much larger and yet still very cozy. The dark wood ceiling, exposed beams, oversized ornate chandeliers and gold and pumpkin shaded walls immediately welcome you. In the center is a large U-shaped tile and wood bar. Everywhere you look is a new detail to be examined and enjoyed.
I ordered the Carne Texolo lunch special with one minute to spare on the end of the lunch specials. Steak asada topped with grilled onions and fried plantains, a blue corn chicken enchilada, and black beans. The chicken enchilada packed the slightest bit of heat which was cut perfectly by the pureed black beans. And the asada combination was a taste sensation. A great start to the adventure.

I noticed in the time that I had been chowing down the food and typing up the blog, that a number of other folks had also chosen start their Friday adventures. The bar had started to fill with happy people ready for happy hour. Tall, cold margaritas.

I love U-turns.

Veracruz Cafe

Mesoamerican, Mayan, Huasteco & Aztec Cuisine

Monday – Saturday 11 am – 10 pm

Sunday – 11 am – 9 pm

The Ranch at Cedar Hill

1427 S. Highway 67

Cedar Hill, TX 75104

972-293-8926

www.veracruzdallas.com

I’ve made the realization in the last year that I have grown old enough to have  people.  Not beck and call people.  Not peeps.  But a group of people who I like to work with.  That I trust.  That I genuinely like as people, as well as respect as talented professionals. 

Shanda Eppinette is one of those people.  Her massage therapeutic  practice in the back of the Dallas Yoga Center is a wonderful oasis of muted colors, warm blankets and soft music.  Once your settled in Shanda will begins the process of making life a better place.  Somehow she manages to understand exactly what you need and then uses multiple therapeutic techniques to begin the healing process.

There are many place in Dallas to get a massage.  But for me this is the only place.

Dallas Yoga Center

Shanda Eppinette

214-549-9902

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