Stephen Dedman (stephen_dedman) wrote,
Stephen Dedman
stephen_dedman

Travels: everything's bigger in Texas

After my time in New Orleans's French Quarter, where everything of interest was in walking distance (at least by my standards) and you were about as likely to see a skateboarder or horse-drawn carriage using the road as you were a car, Dallas was something of a shock. I suspect I've visited countries smaller than the Dallas-Fort Worth sprawl, and I am extremely grateful to Paul Riddell and Caroline Crawford, my reason for visiting the city, for showing me as much of the town as we could manage in a day and a night, and for keeping up a fascinating conversation during the long stretches of driving through a mess of roads that would baffle a minotaur.

It was wonderful to meet Paul at last; he's a brilliant and often hilarious essayist, and we share many obsessions interests (including palaeontology and science fiction, particularly Doctor Who, though I don't have his enthusiasm for either gardening or snakes), and we've been corresponding by email and social media for many years. By good luck, I'd picked a hotel which was right next door to Mercado Juarez, a restaurant which Paul and Caroline recommended and where I had the best Mexican food I've ever had anywhere; the Camaron Juarez was as tasty as the etouffee I'd had in New Orleans. They then took me home, where I met their cats, admired Carolifne's collection of tea sets and miniature samurai helmets, and did a load of laundry.

The next day, Paul and Caroline took me into Dallas to see the most amazing display of samurai armour I've ever seen anywhere, including Japan. Half a dozen complete suits, three sets of saddlery, arrowheads, and a large collection of helmets and face masks in different styles. We were the only visitors at the time, and the staff were very helpful as well as being extremely well informed. We spent so long there that we didn't have time to visit any of the other museums, and went to a huge Half Price Books. I didn't have much room in my luggage after World Horror Con, so I tried to restrain myself - but I kept discovering books I wanted, and only returned half of them to the shelves. (I did resist the urge to buy the beautiful but very large and heavy Art of Armor,, hoping that I'd be able to get a copy at close to the same price without having to lug it around or pay freight - and fortunately, I can.)

After a fine dinner of Texan and Memphis barbecue, Paul and Caroline dropped me back at my hotel. It was, as I said, wonderful to finally meet them, and I hope our paths cross again before too long.
Tags: books, food, samurai, travel
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