The Eyes of Texas are Upon You

There are so many wondrous things to see in this wide fascinating world
and precious little eyeball time with which to enjoy them.

Ladies and gentlemen: fire up your retinas!

After experiencing what I think must be the smoothest departure for a road trip I've ever executed, Mark and I soon found ourselves at the very first stop on our week long trip through the Midwest: scenic downtown Waxahachie, Texas.  My granddaddy was born and raised in Waxahachie, so I've long been interested in driving through to get a feel for the area.

We parked near the Ellis County court house so we could take a turn around the exterior and admire some of its renowned stone masonry. In 1894, a fellow by the name of Harry Herley worked with a team of German-trained carvers to cover the sandstone portions of the 9 story edifice with all sorts of gorgeous ornate carvings.  While working on the project, Harry is said to have been spurned by a local gal named Mabel, whose fair visage appears on one of the earlier sandstone capitals and then progresses in a series of likenesses around the perimeter into a hideous demon.  And people think being unfriended is harsh!

We greatly admired the artistry of the grandly imposing court house, but were soon ready to leave since the entire area was thronged with families enjoying a busy fall festival of some sort - we simply weren't prepared to deal with a giant crowd.

Instead we headed to a spot on a busy two lane highway just a little north of town to see an intriguing house I had read about.  The owners have spent the last decade turning their rural Victorian home into a nearly perfect replica of the mansion in the famous 60s sitcom "The Munsters".  Every detail of the rooms featured in the TV show is lovingly recreated in the Waxahachie version, down to the fire-breathing pet under the stairs and the coffin shaped telephone booth.  Unfortunately at present the mansion is only open for tours one weekend a year, so we had to make do with just admiring it from a distance.  It was certainly inspiring, though!

We made another quick hop to downtown Dallas, and I'm talking JFK in a convertible downtown Dallas - not way out at a suburban mall Dallas.  We were on a mission to find a 30 foot tall eyeball wedged between skyscrapers, and were amazed at how difficult it was to spot the damn thing - something you'd think would be achingly obvious, right? When we finally located it in a narrow canyon between Neiman Marcus and a fancy boutique hotel, it immediately began its siren song.

I'd seen a few pictures of Tony Tassert's amazing piece beforehand, but nothing prepared me for how compelling the thing is in person!  And when I saw the images I shot, I became even more convinced of this things ability to cast a potent spell.  Every image is riveting, dominated by the thing's incredible presence.  What a tremendously successful artwork it is, on every level.  I salute you, sir! 

Tauntingly, the eyeball sits quietly alone, locked away securely inside an enormous fenced-in enclosure.  I would have loved to have gotten in there and taken all sorts of photos with crazy perspective, but alas it was not to be.  In fact, there were signs suggesting that the area is in transition, hinting at the imminent removal of the eye to its next destination (it's already popped up in a handful of US cities).  Mark and I briefly discussed the feasibility of getting the thing on a trailer so we could tow it home and put it in our back yard.  I wonder if they make giant Velcro?

I slingshotted the car back onto the interstate, headed north toward Oklahoma City.  We were barely still in Texas when an ominous blue black cloud appeared on the horizon. A famed "blue norther" for those of you familiar with this volatile plains-sweeping device.  We noted the temperature as we approached the cell: a pleasant 75 degrees. Mark whipped out his smart phone and dialed up local radar loops so we could figure out exactly what we were about to be dealing with.  The picture was a bit grim - impressive amounts of red and orange, with a tiny period of pink to our east.  Now a pink period is better than a comma, but only a little - both are a pretty common precursor to the development of funnel clouds.

As the first enormous drops of rain began to fall, I lucked upon a parking area on the side of the interstate and pulled in behind a line of cars that had decided to take a similar approach to the weather - i.e., batten down the hatches! As we sat and enjoyed the sheets of rain deluging us without having to worry about driving the car, the familiar tattoo of tiny hail pellets rang out and was punctuated by the occasional thud of a quarter sized chunk bouncing off the roof.  

Outside temperature: 55!  The temperature had dropped 20 degrees in a matter of minutes - hence the hail.  The good thing about a cold front fueled rain storm, though, is that it's usually over pretty quickly.  We were able to resume our journey about 15 minutes after we pulled over, and within a half hour we were clear of heavy rain entirely.  As we left the frontal boundary behind us, it looked like night in the rear view mirror, but sun drenched dusk backed with blue skies ahead of us.

 Our destination for the evening was Oklahoma City, and shortly after we arrived we headed to a place called Tucker's to try out one of Oklahoma's regional specialties, the onion burger.  An onion burger consists of a hamburger patty with thin slices of onion smashed right into the meat.  The hamburger meat and onions cook together, infusing meat with onion and onion with meat, until the burger is cooked and the onions are caramelized and darkly crispy.

And the fries were even more spectacularly delicious than the burger!  A delightfully indulgent way to end the day.  Off to bed to dream of bones and Cosmonauts.

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