After four days in Texas, I have returned from my sojourn with my head full of details about Dallas and Fort Worth. Initially there was a hesitant plan to go to Austin, but we ran out of time and in the end decided to visit the Texas state capitol on our next trip.

As far as I can tell (from my very brief and limited experience), Dallas is one gigantic freeway with strip malls on either side. And, there seemed to be a pattern to the strip malls that I only began to crack towards the end of our stay (Home Depot / Staples / PetSmart combination, car lot, restaurants, gas station / fast food combination, repeat).

I have never seen so much cement, cars and lack of trees in a city. And, for the entire stay I kept looking for the downtown core or a silhouette of what would be the center of the city; and saw nothing. Every once in a while I would be deceived by a random outcropping of buildings, but alas it wasn’t the downtown core. I kept asking the locals: where is downtown Dallas? And, strangely, no one really knew.

To be fair, we were only in the north of Dallas, which seems to have been over taken by a cement urban existence. I’m sure that visitors to Calgary’s NE industrial areas would say the same thing. There was no opportunity to see any of the recommended tourist destinations and there was little in the way of the friendly Texan cowboy image, belt buckles, cowboy boots, tall hats, or some reference to the Texas rodeo heritage.

In chatting with locals about all of this, I was told that during the early part of the last century Dallas and Fort Worth were given two paths and each chose to go in opposite directions. Dallas moved away from the cowboy image and adopted a working city image, whereas Fort Worth embraced their heritage and used the cowboy theme to draw tourists.

As a final note, however, I would like to say that Dallas is not all gloom and doom. The people of Dallas are incredibly warm and friendly. I got more hugs and handshakes on Thursday that I did over Christmas. For everything lost in the concrete and steel city the people make up for it in their warm hospitality!