Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Dijon Must'art

As a photographer, one of the things I love most is the opportunity to meet interesting people.  Today was no exception, as I photographed a ceremonial mustard seed planting atop the Fairmount Hotel's organic rooftop garden.  Let me explain...

Dallas' international sister city is Dijon, France.  In conjunction with bringing a very impressive medieval Burgundian sculpture exhibit to the Dallas Museum of Art, the "Dijon Delegation" is visiting Dallas, learning a bit about our city and inspiring many of us to, hopefully, one day, visit Dijon.  The delegation consists of Michelin-starred chefs, wine experts, city officials, and the director of the Musee des Beaux-Arts, Dijon.  The chefs are even cooking on October 1st at the Texas State Fair!

So today was a press reception, and mustard seed planting. Students from the Dallas Le Cordon Bleu College also attended. Here are a few photographs from a very enjoyable time!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Hot Springs

I just returned from my first trip to Hot Springs, Arkansas.  Blogging didn't happen while I was gone due to the fact that Wifi was not available at the place I rented.  Other than that, it was a perfect little two bedroom/two bath condo in a gated community which overlooks Lake Hamilton.  My friends Bill and Jane went with me.  They drove, so Rose the Rat Terrier and I got the back seat.  It was a relaxing drive; only took about four hours to get there.
Hot Springs is known for its 47 hot springs.  The water literally comes out of the ground at 147 degrees!  Hot Springs National Park is the oldest (1921) Federal reserve in the country, and the water made it famous as a spa town back in the day.  A creek actually flows underneath what is known as "Bath House Row."  The buildings are gorgeous; Jane and I visited the Buckstaff Bath House, and it was well worth it!  You can easily imagine people coming to this little town for the healing waters. 
There are eight bath houses left, and they are managed by the National Park Service.  Only two are actually open, with another undergoing renovations. We visited a very interesting spa museum, Fordyce Baths, which was very luxurious when it was an ongoing business.  Besides the baths, it also sported a gymnasium, a beauty shop, a billiards area, individual massage rooms, and, really, just about anything you'd want.  Everything is a sparkling white and silver, very fancy, with lots of stained glass.   For some reason, it kind of reminded me of some of the older buildings in San Francisco.

In the early 1900's, Hot Springs was known as the training camp for many major league baseball teams.  Babe Ruth could be seen walking Central Avenue, and visiting the bath houses!  Al Capone and many other gangsters also favored the city, as it was a mecca for illegal gambling and horse racing.  You could definitely feel the town's character while driving down its main street, which is Central Avenue.'s great to be able to visit a town with such a colorful history!  We spent some time driving around looking at the older houses.  These are a few of my favorites.

I definitely plan to go back for more exploring.  The weather was a bit too hot in mid-September, but I'm sure that autumn will be beautiful there, and I feel as though it's the kind of town that always welcomes you back.

As always, thanks for coming along for the ride!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

West Fest

The little town of West, Texas is about 100 miles southwest of my house.  Founded by Czech immigrants in the late 1800's, every Labor Day weekend the people of West celebrate their heritage with a festival called West Fest.  I was on the road by 8 a.m., and the day was of those bright blue Texas skies that can't be beat.

I made it to West in time for the parade, and the town was hoppin!'  Cars were parked nose to nose, and people sat on every inch of sidewalk space waiting for the parade to come by.  I bypassed the "traffic jam," and drove around the residential area looking at some of the older houses.  I found a cute yellow one with white trim for sale.  It was built 1910, and the asking price was $74,500.  A bargain!  I eventually parked near the end of the parade route, and had a great view for photographs.  People in the parade threw candy to the kids, and they were as excited!  Old cars, tractors, several floats, and lots of Volunteer Fire Department trucks wound around West.  It was great!

After the parade, I drove over to the actual West Fest.  Pavillions were set up, a midway sparkled with rides, the smell of meat smoking perfumed the air, and people in Czech costumes were everywhere.  It was a visual feast, and I enjoyed every minute.  The polka music was fun, too! Thanks for coming along for the ride!