Texas Rhapsody 2023

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Texas-1I had a free weekend with nothing to do. Everyone close to me planned to be out of town, and none needed me to tag along.

I decided I needed a vacation. 2023 was more than half over, and I had taken only two vacation days and had not left town for either of them. This was a mistake since my company recently switched to an unlimited vacation policy.

So, I booked a flight to Texas. My primary goal was to see a Rangers game in Arlington and an Astros game in Houston. After checking the schedule, I flew to Dallas Friday afternoon and booked a hotel in Arlington, then flew to Houston Monday morning before my flight home Tuesday evening.

Texas-2I drove straight from the DFW airport to Hard Eight BBQ - my favourite BBQ restaurant in the Dallas area, where I planned to meet some co-workers. My team is scattered across the US, and I joined this team over a year ago, but I have met very few of my teammates in person, thanks to the COVID pandemic and a limited travel budget. It was great to see Tommy, Pardeep, and Thomas for the first time after interacting with them virtually for thirteen months.

Texas-3I attended the Texas Rangers - Los Angeles Dodgers game at the new Globe Life Field on Friday evening. I aim to see a game in every Major League Baseball team's home stadium. I went to a Rangers home game a few years ago but decided I needed to return to experience their new stadium. Globe Life Field is beautiful, and the dome kept the temperatures manageable, despite the 100-degree outside temperature. The game was exciting for the first seven innings as each team traded runs and the lead, but the Dodgers blew the game open with six runs in the eighth and ninth innings, winning 11-5. The highlight came in the fifth inning when Dodgers rookie center fielder Jonny Deluca made spectacular catches on back-to-back Rangers at-bats. The old baseball stadium still stands across the street, where it serves as the home to the Arlington Renegades of the XFL, North Texas SC of MLS Next Pro, and the Dallas Jackals of Major League Rugby.

Texas-4I drove to downtown Dallas on Saturday morning and met my friend Jason for lunch. Jason and I worked together for years until he left Microsoft in 2019 to enter the startup world. One of my best Microsoft memories is of the time Jason and I drove to St. Louis years ago to visit our friend Bill, who was dying of pancreatic cancer. We surprised Bill with a demo of the HoloLens before its official release.

After lunch, I visited the Dallas Museum of Art, where I spent most of the afternoon. The museum features a variety of works, but I was most impressed with its European Impressionist collection. Although smaller than the Art Institute of Chicago, this museum rivals its northern counterpart in the quality of this genre.

Texas-5Saturday evening, I decided I needed more baseball; so I drove to Frisco, TX, north of Dallas, and attended a game between the Frisco Roughriders and the San Antonio Missions. They celebrated Hispanic diversity this night by temporarily renaming the teams Los Quesos de Frisco and the San Antonio Flying Chanclas. Minor League baseball is always fun, with seats close to the field and kid-friendly activities between innings. I witnessed a grand slam by Thomas Saggese of the Roughriders / Quesos - something I have only seen a few times in my life at a professional baseball game. The home team won 8-6.

Texas-6I slept in Sunday morning, then drove to the George W. Bush Presidential Library on the campus of Southern Methodist University, where I spent most of the afternoon. The country has mixed opinions about Bush's presidency, but this museum celebrated his positive achievements. His reaction to the events following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, largely defined his legacy in the eyes of most Americans. Well-produced videos featured prominently in this museum, telling the story of Bush's life, character, and actions from the point of view of the former President and his family.

Texas-7After leaving the museum, I walked around the SMU campus for a while, taking in the sights. For an urban campus, it has some beautiful landscaping and open spaces. I could not spend much time walking around outside, as the temperatures approached 100 degrees Fahrenheit all weekend.

Texas-8My plan for Monday afternoon was to visit one or two museums in Houston. Sadly, a mechanical failure forced the cancellation of my morning flight, and I did not arrive in Houston until late afternoon. I missed the museum visits but arrived in time for an exciting Astros - Rangers game at Minute Maid Park. The Astros won on a walk-off RBI with one out in the ninth inning.

I met my friend Donovan and his wife, Chelsea, for lunch on Monday. Donovan recently retired from Microsoft, and the two spend their time traveling around North America, racing their Tesla and riding roller coasters. It was good to catch up with good Tex-Mex food and good company. As a bonus, Donovan brought a charger for my Kindle, so I was able to read on the flight home.

Texas-9As I write this, I am sitting in the terminal at the George H.W. Bush Airport in Houston, waiting to board my plane. I am exhausted but glad I came to Texas. I visited two museums, attended three baseball games, and met with old and new friends. It was well worth the trip.