Day 29 – Gardening in the Dallas Arboretum, and our first glimpse of the 2023 US Beagle National

• After committing to a non refundable ticket to the Dallas Arboretum, we awoke to a beautiful gloomy day with a forecast of rain. Doh!

• Unperturbed (well, slightly turbed) we headed off. The place was actually a pain in the butt to get in to for people who didn’t read the instructions (guilty). There’s like 3 different car entrances to the gardens, and as a standard ticket holder you’re not allowed to use any of them. The actual entrance is across the road in what felt like a 16 story underground carpark. From there, you walk through a tunnel under the main road and pop out at the ticketed entrance to the place. This is actually clearly explained in the email containing the ticket I found out later.

• Arboretum is basically a fancy name for a botanical gardens, but with an entry fee and a gift shop. The place was beautiful, with all manner of little lakes and rivers and waterfalls and fountains (better than Bellagio) around the place. They also had giant goldfish. My shoe for scale. And a heap of plants which I guess is probably more the point of the place.

• Being Halloween, it meant pumpkins had to get involved somehow. On top of the pumpkin patch thingo I took photos of (that also featured Snoopy for some reason?), they also lined half the walkways with pumpkins. Initially I thought this was kind of a grotesque waste of resources, but after the fourth or fifth happy little squirrel busted out of a pumpkin they’d chewed holes in with a mouth full of seeds I gave it a pass. Squirrels gotta eat.

• Had an overpriced cheese toasty which stitched me up with the cultural differences. Advertised as being served with chips, they literally just handed over a tiny packet of plain salted “chips” as opposed to “fries” which is the regional dialect. I sulked a little bit and didn’t eat them at the time out of spite… But I did take them with us for later because hey, chips!

• I tried to take photos with minimal people in them so it may not look it, but the place was packed. Approximately one million children running around the pumpkin patch because apparently nothing is more fun than a pumpkin on the ground. Also using the “do not climb on rocks” signs as handholds to climb on the rocks, and the “do not feed the fish” sign to lean on when feeding the fish. I’m glad I was never a kid.

• For some reason, the groundskeepers have planted Lantana in the gardens, and gone to the effort of labelling it and everything. The fools, they know not what they have done. The place is going to be the Dallas Lantana Reserve by this time next year.

• After we’d earn enough plants and pumpkin eating squirrels, it was time for a bit more shopping to compete Erin’s puppy outfit. We tried another mall which – like all of them – was enormous, and had an ice skating rink in it. With pumpkins.

• Texas is really embracing flyovers, and seem to be constructing them everywhere. Some people may argue that higher density housing and good public transport would be a more efficient method of moving people around than adding more roads, but those people have obviously never driven a V8 with 6 cupholders for the driver alone, and heated leather seats.

• Final destination for the day was the puppy show, which was kind of the point of the whole trip in the first place. It’s being held in a convention centre, which means the whole thing is inside and air conditioned. We headed there and Erin met her American (and Canadian!) heroes who gifted her with a shirt with a really uncomfortable neckline (this is a totally hilarious inside joke trust me), a lovely hoodie, and giant coffee cups – all labelled with Asalei and a puppy head! Customised gifts, how lovely. It even came in a gift bag! Also they had puppies, so there was more puppy pats. Puppy pats are a definite highlight of the trip.

• We headed out to dinner at a place called Texas Roadhouse, which came with these awesome little dinner rolls that were sweet (but deliberately, not like those stupid brioche buns that every hamburger joint has started using where the sweetness is a side effect of browning with sugar), and had this cinnamon(??) butter. I’d like to put in a request for this to make its way to Australia please.

• Being the last day with the hire car, we emptied out the little trinkets we’d bought along the way. Despite feeling like we hadn’t really bought much, we seem to have accumulated many bags worth of extra stuff. I’m going to need some of that hotel pillow compression technology to get it all in our bags, especially considering we have a domestic flight to do yet which has a much lower bag weight allowance than the international flight home…

• Tomorrow is the first full day of puppy show activities. Boy, I can’t wait.


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