My fun weekend

gas monkeyI wish I had the energy to wish you a Happy Monday, but that requires a level of enthusiasm that I can’t seem to muster at the beginning of the week. Instead, I’m holed up in my room, wishing I had the energy to do anything, but it was worth it!

I had a rare weekend off, both Saturday and Sunday, which was nice. I got home Friday night, about half an hour before midnight, and that’s when my plans for a quiet weekend fell through. Two of my brothers, and my sister, who had tickets to go see the Cowboys play, were able to find better seats, leaving them with three party passes and asked me if I wanted to go. After much wishing and washing, and nearly thirty minutes of teeth-gnashing, I scrapped my nothing plans and decided to go for broke and go to Dallas.

Four hours later, and maybe an hour and half of sleep later, we were on our way. I slept about half of the way there on Saturday. I got through to my friend somewhere around Sweetwater, TX, telling her we were on our way. She agreed to meet us at Reunion Tower in downtown Dallas later in the afternoon, (check out my post about my first visit!)

First, the four of us hit up Gas Monkey Bar & Grill for lunch. For those of you unaware, Gas Monkey is the name of garage in Dallas made famous on the Discovery Channel’s show, Fast n’ Loud and owned by Richard Rowlings. In the past year or so, he expanded his empire and opened a restaurant.

I’m a fan of the show, as are my gear-headed brothers, and have been wanting to make a trip to check out the bar & grill. We hadn’t expected to see just how crazy the place would be. At one p.m., the parking lot was overflowing, people were standing in line waiting for a seat. My brother Julian put of on the list and I was shocked to see how long the wait would be. An hour to an hour and a half.

Normally I would have left, but we drove six to seven hours to get to Dallas, and what’s another hour or so? We sat and waited, watching people come and go. A group of motorcycle enthusiasts took over much of the patio seating outside. People young and old streamed in and out, many leaving with souvenir cups or shirts. No one left looking disappointed.

After waiting just shy of an hour, we got a text saying our table was ready. Our server, some young guy whose name I can’t recall, took our drink order almost immediately. Our drinks arrived promptly, took our order, and we sat and visited, marveling at the place.

It didn’t take long for our meal to arrive in a wax-paper lined metal tray, which fit with the atmosphere. I had a chicken sandwich which left me a little disappointed, but it was still good. My sister had a carnitas taco plate which I tried. I should have ordered that! My brother Andrew ordered a burger topped of with a fried quail egg. I can’t remember what Julian ordered. Regardless, everyone liked what they ordered.

Gas Monkey Bar & Grill certainly delivered. I was expecting a tourist trap, and in some ways it’s a way to capitalize on the success of their television show. Unlike some tourist traps, their wait staff were professional and their appearance were in keeping with the spirit of the car show they are based off of. The food was delicious, though I still wish I had ordered the tacos.. All in all, I was extremely satisfied with the establishment. I’ll have to go back soon, preferable when they have a musical group in-house, *hint hint*.

As for the rest of the trip, well, we also dropped by the garage, took a few pictures, and bought a few t-shirts. I also revisited Reunion Tower with my siblings, this time during the day. My fear of heights remains, but I didn’t feel as sick as I did the first time. As for the reason for going to Dallas in the first place, let’s just say, the 49’s owned Cowboy AT&T Stadium that day, with almost more red in the stands than blue. It was an embarrassment and I don’t want to talk about it anymore.

At least I got a cool souvenir Gas Monkey Pilsner glass out of my trip. Woo!

 

 

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Conquering my fear…well, sort of?

Hallelujah! I survived another week. How did you fare? I hope you made it to the other side intact. Why else would you bless me with your presence, of which I’m extremely grateful.

Before I get started with today’s post, I would like announce the books I have lined up to review next month. I’m so excited I can’t wait to tell you. First up, I have Mitch Lavender’s book, Find My Baby. In it, we meet Zachary, an IT security professional who along with his wife, plan to adopt a child from the Ukraine, Unfortunately, a cyber-criminal with a grudge against Zachary kidnaps the child and holds it for ransom. My review will go up August 4th, but if you want to check it out, you can always follow the link.

The second book is Back from Chaos, by Yvonne Hertzberger. Back from Chaos is the first book of the Earth’s Pendulum Trilogy, which follows Klast, a loner whose destiny it is to heal Earth’s wounds and restore balance to the planet. I will post my review on August 18th.

Now, on with the show. I took a spontaneous trip to the DFW area last weekend to visit my best friend, Amy. Not much happened on the trip, though I did find myself trying to herd an alpaca off the highway last Friday. That was an interesting experience, and a topic for another time.

A fear of heights is illogical. A fear
of falling, on the other hand, is prudent and evolutionary.
~Dr. Sheldon Cooper – The Big Bang Theory~

Me and Amy posing for a cheesy souvenir photo. Photo by cheesy souvenir photo taker.

Me and Amy posing for a cheesy souvenir photo. Photo by cheesy souvenir photo taker.

What really made the trip interesting for me had to be the trip to Reunion Tower in downtown Dallas. The tower stands tall at 561 ft, and was completed in 1978. Dealey Plaza, the site of the Kennedy assassination is about 1000 feet away. Reunion Tower boasts two restaurants, Cloud Nine Café, and Fifty Six, an award-winning fine dining restaurant opened by celebrity chef, Wolfgang Puck.

Did I mention it’s 561 fear-enducing feet tall?

I have a fear of heights. As with most phobias, I know the fear is not logical, but the knowing in no way mitigates the fear. On the drive to the tower, I could feel myself becoming overwhelmed by anxiety. Once we arrived, I balked and I wanted flee the scene. Amy assured me that if I didn’t want to go through with it, I wouldn’t have to. Knowing I was in control allowed me to continue.

The reason for my trepidation is simple. Back when I was in high school, I went on a band trip to San Antonio. While there, we visited the 750-foot-tall Tower of the Americas. I entered the elevator and rode to the top, blissfully unaware of how I would react once we reached the top.

Me and Amy after arriving to Reunion Tower, to meet my doom. Spoiler alert, I survived.

Me and Amy after arriving to Reunion Tower, to meet my doom. Spoiler alert, I survived.

Well, not quite unaware. As we ascended, my panic seemed to rise with the elevation, and when the doors opened, I found myself almost immobilized with fear. I somehow managed to step out of the elevator. I don’t remember much of the experience  other than having to endure the stomach-churning anxiety and the cruel taunts from the other band kids. Never before had I been as happy to be on solid earth.

Fast-forward over twenty years, and the memory of that day come flooding back. I steeled myself against the inevitable desire to flee. I knew I would have to face my fear. If I were to have left at that point, yes I would have felt immediately better, but I would have reinforced my fear. No, I had to immerse myself completely.

After enduring more cruel taunts from the bitch at the ticket desk – which makes me wonder why do people think making light of someone’s phobia is funny? – we joined the line to the elevator. Soon enough we were on our way to the top. In a way, those 68 seconds seemed to last an eternity, but the steady stream of trivia delivered by the elevator operator helped focus my mind on something other than my anxiety.

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Posing calmly for a photo on the outside balcony of Reunion Tower. Only over 400 feet above Dallas. No worries. Photo by Amy.

With a calming breath, I walked off the elevator, determined not to let my fear get the best of me. I felt the familiar waves of anxiety, dizziness, shortness of breath, but I refused to succumb to the panic. When Amy suggested I take a seat, I kept walking, stubbornly refusing to lose the battle. Soon, I began walking around the floor, looking out the windows. After a few minutes acclimatizing to the height, I opened the door stepped into the open air of the balcony, where I stood briefly at the edge to have this photo taken before retreating to the relative safety of the inside wall.

After returning to the inside of the observation deck, I played around with the interactive screens, watched a ten minute video of the JFK assassination as told by the last surviving member of the Secret Service detail to have ridden in the presidential limo that fateful day. Then it was time to go down. We spent about thirty minutes at the top, but again it felt like an eternity.

Is this the face of a scaredy cat? Um...yes. Yes it is. Behind me is the inside wall of the observation deck of Reunion Tower. Photo by Amy.

Is this the face of a scaredy cat? Um…yes. Yes it is. Behind me is the inside wall of the observation deck of Reunion Tower. Photo by Amy.

The ride down was excruciatingly long. The operator first went up one floor to the café level, then back down to the floor below, before taking the 68-second journey to the ground floor. At one point, I squeezed Amy’s shoulder out of fright, possibly leaving her bruised. (Sorry, Amy!)

But I survived. The ordeal turned out not to be as bad as I had expected. I did experience nausea, light-headedness, and other unpleasant feelings, but I also had a fantastic view of downtown Dallas at night which I enjoyed. I faced my fear, and though I’m in no way over it, I didn’t let it hold me back! I’m also in no hurry to repeat the experience.

Once on the ground, we visited the gift shop, stopped at the Starbucks for a drink, and I was forced to pose for more photos. I hate taking pictures. I’m so not photogenic! I let my nerves calm down before walking back to the car and riding around downtown Dallas, then heading back to the house and a good nights sleep. I survived.

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My reward, a hot cappuccino to calm my frayed nerves. Reunion Tower is lighted up behind me. Photo by Amy