The Ultimate Road Trip: THE SILVER SNAIL : A solo woman's full-time RV adventure
THE ULTIMATE AMERICAN ROAD TRIP
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Dallas, TX

DAMAGE REPAIR PURGATORY
After three weeks of waiting for parts to arrive, I finally made the trip into Dallas to North Dallas RV for the repair work to be done. Needless to say, I was anxious to have the job finished and be on the road again. North Dallas RV generously loaned me a 1985 31' Airstream and parked it at Lewisville Lake Park for me. It was nice to have the living space of 31 feet, and even nicer not to have to live in a hotel room, but it was still unsettling not being in my own space. It took about a week and a half for the major repair work. The day I moved back into my Silver Snail, we were still waiting for parts for the heater, which were scheduled to arrive that day. It was Friday, and they never came, so the folks (Pat) at North Dallas RV offered me the option to stay on the lot over the weekend, with a full hookup. I accepted and there I was, in the shop lot, surrounded by vintage Airstreams and rental RVs, behind a locked gate (I had a key), on the frontage road of I-35 E. Not especially glamorous, but quite handy, private and safe. Monday came around and the parts arrived in the afternoon, and I was ready to roll.....by 4:00, rush hour. Rush hour in the Big D is not something to be taken lightly, so I was able to stay one more night and left at a reasonable time Tuesday morning. Pat, Randy and Juan at North Dallas RV were the best. Randy did a great job on the metalwork, and Juan did a great job with everything else, especially the little detail jobs I happened to find while staying on the lot that weekend. And Pat's generosity with his 31' trailer, as well as the weekend space on the lot was greatly appreciated.

HERE'S THE WORK THAT WAS DONE:
• The Major Work: replaced 4 exterior aluminum panels, awning arms, stove vent, light, etc..
• fixed/calibrated black and grey tank sensors
• reversed fridge door - why'd they install it backwards?
• recaulked bathroom counter
• fixed heater - new fan and circuit board
• coverered grey water tank box with plate - why was there a cut-out there anyway?
• replaced 2 missing interior rivets

 

MAKING THE BEST OF IT
Since I was in a big city with arts and entertainment, I went to see Moliere's The Misanthrope, at the Dallas Theater Center, which was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. I visited the Nasher Sculpture Center, which happened to have some extraordinary works that I remember distracting me from my doze in art history class. And I went to Fort Worth for an afternoon. If I ever have to come back to the Dallas/Fort Worth area, I would prefer to stay in Fort Worth. Apparently, they used to be two very distinct cities, but with the sprawling sprawl, it's merged into one Dallas/Fort Worth. The downtown Fort Worth area is friendly and walkable, with western-themed topiaries, red bricks, and sidewalk cafes. There's a daily cattle run in the Stockyards, where cowboys on horses lead longhorn cattle down the road for a brief walk. It's a tourist thing.

Back at "home", Lewisville Lake Park was quite nice for a city park. Riley and I could go on decent walks along the edge of the lake. He'd swim and bark while I walked. It had a good sense of open space and fresh air, but we had to dodge a lot of litter on the shore.

All in all, Dallas' impression on me was a mega-highway-big-box-fast-food-megalopolis. Sprawl! No joke, you can drive 20-30 miles in any direction and it's all the same - a maze of highways, big box stores and fast-food joints. My GPS redeemed itself over and over again and was a godsend, navigating this maze of endless highways.

When I was back on the road, I drove northwest to Amarillo, TX and found a Cracker Barrel for dinner, a good night's sleep, and breakfast. That was my first night taking advantage of the "free camping" in parking lots. I asked the friendly staff and managers if it was a safe place, or if I might be hassled in the middle of the night, and they assured me that i'd be fine, and it was actually quite nice: quiet, safe and very convenient.

By the way, Amarillo's elevation is 3600 ft., compared to Dallas' 450 ft. My driving days were starting to include significant climbs to higher elevations, and my rig was earning it's moniker "Snail".

I had decided to skip the south of the southwest (Big Bend, White Sands, etc...) and much of the grandeur of the four-corners area, because the south was getting too warm for me (90-100 degrees), and I was anxious to get to the west coast. The delay of 6 weeks caused this shift in plans, unfortunately, so I'm opting instead to set myself up for a possible visit to Alaska in July. I have to remind myself that just because I'm here now doesn't mean I can't come back.

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All images and words © Sharon Pieniak
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