Hello from Dallas, TX!
So far, I haven’t found the city to be quite as interesting as I’d imagined it in my head, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have a great day.
I arrived while it was still morning, after leaving my house at 4am, so I was starving when I arrived. I headed to Barbec’s for some beer biscuits & gravy for a late breakfast. It was all good, but nothing too special. Still, it was cheap and I ended up taking half of it back to the hotel (which is awesome since breakfast isn’t included with my room).
Next, I drove around for a little while to get my bearings, and then I checked out the Dallas Farmer’s Market. Lots of interesting-looking food places, but I’d just eaten. So I walked around the downtown area for a while in search of coffee and ended up at Stupid Good Coffee. I’d only planned to stop in for a second to grab a cold brew, but the people working were so darned nice that I ended up chatting with them for a good 20 minutes or so. They gave me the skinny on some places to go, and then they gave me a free sampler taco (which was really just a free taco). I’d never imagined the concept of a “sampler taco” before, but I’m now a huge fan. The taco was good, too. Great people, good tacos (??), and decent coffee – what more could you ask for in a coffee shop?
I walked around for a while and visited the JFK area of things and found the giant eyeball. I took my picture in front of both, but I’ll spare y’all. After a few hours of wandering, I decided that I should grab lunch, so I headed over to Off The Bone for some BBQ. I got a pulled pork plate with honey baked beans and potato salad and skipped the roll it came with – I just couldn’t eat everything. For the price, the portion size was rather small, but that was okay since I wasn’t super-hungry. The pulled pork was legit, though – really good.
Finally, on the way to check into the hotel, I stopped at Emporium Pies and grabbed a slice of Drunken Nut to go. It might be a take-home thing, simply because there’s so much eating to do and so little time to do it in!
I made it to the hotel for early check-in just as the first raindrops started to fall. By the time I made it up to my room and opened the window to peek outside, the sky was completely dark, trees were blowing practically sideways, and I was in disaster nerd heaven… or so I thought. The real disaster nerd heaven was still on its way…
That’s right, I found the local Red Cross and made my way inside. At first, I stopped by the front area where there appeared to be a lobby, but no one answered when I tried to get buzzed in. So I went back to my rental car and noticed there seemed to be some activity around the side of the building. I drove back, parked, and walked inside. It was oddly dark, but there were two friendly women standing there to greet me. They thought I was there for a blood drive that had been canceled due to the storm – they’d lost power, which explains why it was so dark (and why no one answered when I tried to get buzzed in). I explained that I was visiting and asked if anyone from Disaster Cycle Services was around, and they ended up giving me a tour while trying to find someone. Since they didn’t have power, most of the personnel in the building had gone home. I ended up hanging with one of the women, Marni, and two dudes who were in the office – Alpha and Judah. Between the three of them, I got a nice in-depth tour of the building, including their tornado shelter, their blood storage facility, their warehouse (!), their Digi-Dock (!!!), and where they keep all the goodies (including canned water, which just seems crazy!).
We didn’t find any Disaster personnel, but we did find a ton of things that they were eager to give away. I walked out of there with an incredible amount of stuff – I was thrilled when they offered me a Dallas chapter pin; imagine my delight when I left with 5 bags, solar panels, 6 cups, a hat, a bajillion branded notepads (including a really nice leather binder), miscellaneous supplies (First Aid stuff, pens, etc), a new disaster vest (since a volunteer “stole” mine and keeps forgetting to return it), a fancy utility vest with 1,000 pockets, and – get this – three staff polo shirts. They loved my enthusiasm for the place and for all things disaster, and we all shared information… let’s just say maybe this won’t be the last time I’ll be in Dallas.
I ended up spending over 3 hours with them, and the time flew by – they’re all such wonderful people (as I’ve come to expect). They gave me some great tips on places to eat, so I ended up eating dinner with Alpha at a place called Maple & Motor. Apparently this place was on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, which I knew my dad would appreciate when he saw the pictures. We got burgers and loaded tater tots and just hung out for a while. I have to say, it was nice to travel to a new city and make immediate friends – that’s something that’s never happened before. ❤
I have tentative plans to go back to the Dallas chapter on Thursday, before I head to the airport, and at that point I’m also hoping to visit the Fort Worth chapter. Today they told me that Fort Worth is where they have all the supplies for National, which means my little mind is about to be blown. I now have contact info for folks here, so the plan is to arrange some time to meet with the Disaster peeps and discuss challenges/solutions, and then to head to Ft Worth to tour the facilities before I head back. I already can’t wait!
As for tomorrow, my day is already planned out for me – I’ll be working all day (though it’s expected to be an easy day for me), and then our customer planned a bowling night for us as a team-building exercise. I might meet up with the RC people afterwards, but I’m not sure yet – I suppose it depends on how long the after-work work-related festivities last.
I’d better get to bed soon – I gained an extra hour, but we’re meeting in the lobby at 7:30 and I haven’t slept much in the last few days. Wish me luck on having another awesome day tomorrow! 🙂