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Thread: Night Life and JFK

  1. #1
    Happy to be here! :) The_Veg's Avatar
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    Night Life and JFK

    Last night I was getting bored. But it was really nice and kind of cool outside, and I had a ready and eager motorcycle waiting...

    Living in a big urban megalopolis located in the flat plains of Texsux can be frustrating- you need to set time aside to be able to get to interesting roads. What to do, what to do...

    The solution: I compromised and rode the mostly straight urban streets of Dallas at night.
    I live very close to the neighbourhood known as Lower Greenville, which is one of the big night life areas in town. So that was my first destination. Lower Greenville is a popular cruising spot, with many Harleys and clones and crotch-rockets parked all over the sidewalks outside the trendy dance clubs. Not the sort of place I usually like to ride, but I passed through just to get a peek at the neon and all the people. Not too many bikes out either. It was cool enough that in my long-sleeve tee and Tourmaster Tech II I was slightly chilly. I guess cool people don't ride when it's below tee-shirt-and-leather-vest temperature.
    At the southern end of Lower Greenville I turned right onto Ross which isn't very spectacular as streets go but it points right at the downtown Dallas skyline at close range and has a few small flourishes of neon itself.
    Closer in to downtown and I have to decide where to go next. Since I'm already trolling the nightlife areas, why not make a pass through Deep Ellum? This neighbourhood on the east end of downtown goes back many years, way back to the blues clubs of the 1930s. It gets its name from Elm Street which runs through it. Main and Commerce Streets run parallel to Elm so I got to spend a little time there. Being Friday night the place was quite alive with the young and hip, all kinds of neon, tattoo parlours, a few bikes (more than LG had at least), and lots of parking attendents with orange flags trying to get me to trade $6 for the privelege of stopping. No thanks. Gotta ride on.
    From Deep Ellum I headed west into downtown. Downtown Dallas is notorious for being really dead after dark (all the nightlife is elsewhere, downtown is all business). Guess what? I was delighted to see that nightlife is creeping into downtown. I also noticed that they've already got some of the Christmas lights up. I continued west until I reached the end of downtown at Houston street. I looped around a couple of blocks back to Elm so I'd be going the right way. When you cross Houston going west, you enter Dealey Plaza. Elm Street is the one that goes by the book depository and the Grassy Knoll, and was inhabited at one point 40 years ago today by a certain presidential motorcade...
    Knowing the 40th annivarsary of the assassination was the very next day made it a slightly more chiling ride. I was in the center lane, just as the big open Lincoln was. I saw that they'd repainted the X on the pavement where the "third vote for Johnson" arrived. I couldn't help but imagine the sound of a shot ringing out as I passed over the spot. I've been through Dealey many times but this was the first time I'd done it on a motorcycle. I can only imagine how those Harley-mounted cops must have felt when all hell broke loose.
    I gave the throttle a good twist and moved into the right lane, the R100R's exhaust note booming echoey through the underpass. I was then going north on I-35. I missed the exit I wanted to take, so I decided on the next exit, Oak Lawn. A couple of nice curves, then up to the first light on Oak Lawn. I swear this was serendipity, but I then noticed where I was...right next to the old abandoned Parkland Hospital, which meant that until this point I was still on the doomed motorcade's route. This old wreck of a building was where the motorcade rushed to from Dealey Plaza.
    On that note I said goodbye to History and stayed with Oak Lawn until it became Preston and passed through the Park Cities, then turned on University and headed home.
    Today I rode with some guys from my club and a few others to the big motorcycle show downtown. Since the convention center is only a few blocks from Dealey plaza I thought about stopping by pay repsects but crowds and traffic led me to do otherwise. Maybe tomorrow...
    Last edited by The Veg; 11-22-2003 at 11:51 PM.

  2. #2
    List Mistress mrskbasa's Avatar
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    How to get a quick fix

    When we lived in MA, we had to ride a long way to find good roads. Dave would go late at night to the intersection of two highways (Rte 3 & 495 for you Bostonians), and ride the well lighted loops. This would help him get a winter fix over the six months of pouting.

    When we moved here, I told him no pouting was allowed.
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    Registered User jgr451's Avatar
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    Angry

    Hmmm.I was 11 years old when I saw the news.I thought then,and I still think now,how awful,they have killed the president.
    I cried then,as a boy,and I cry now,as a man.It was one of America's worst days.

    There is no happy ending.

  4. #4
    Happy to be here! :) The_Veg's Avatar
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    Parkland is still around in name, just in a different location. The old one is really quite small, and as the city grew the hospital had to accommodate (Parkland is the public hospital). The current campus is quite huge and the main building as a gigantic 10-story facility built probably in the 1970s. It has one of the five largest medical-liquid-oxygen bulk tanks in the country (I know this becuase I used to be in the medical gas systems biz). There are two other facilities that share the new campus including a rather large medical school.
    The book depository I'm pretty sure is still owned by the state, although I'm not sure what they do with the other floors. The Sixth Floor Museum is quite good. The corner at the window has been sealed behind glass, the scene recreated to look just as it was found on November 22. There are several interesting facets to the exhibits including a collection of cameras that were present in Dealey plaza, including Abe Zapruder's camera (still with the FBI evidence sticker on it). A few blocks away there is another museum called The Conspiracy Museum which is a bit more general in focus and a bit smaller. There is also a JFK museum that I only just recently found out about (despite living here for six years) and have not been to yet. Dealey Plaza itself is of course worth seeing. You can freely stroll it, and pretty much every day somebody is doing just that. I had a delightful experience there a couple of years ago when a Canadian tourist asked me to take her picture on the Grassy Knoll and we wound up having lunch together over some great conversation. Be sure to check out the grafitti on the parking-lot-side of the picket fence on the Grassy Knoll, and have fun eyeballing the various shooting angles that all the theorists have come up with (having done this myself I think the storm drain looks pretty plausible).
    As far as it being worth the trip to see all this, that depends on how far you're traveling from. You can take in all the JFK stuff in less than a day. You can either park downtown or take the DART train there, which is a good option since parking is free at DART stations (there is a train stop quite near Dealey Plaza). I would allow a whole day just in case, as I don't know how extensive the JFK museum is and you can of course always find more things to do (for example The Dallas World Aquarium is downtown and quite good too). There is also a tourism office downtown (I think in the old courthouse but don't quote me on that) that can help you find additional diversions. The DFW area does have a few good things to do (depending on the season) if you're considering a trip of several days. Do a web search on the TX tourist organisation for more info.

  5. #5
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    the secret service did it!!!

    the ballistics support the argument that the SS had an accidental discharge as they were getting their m16 up to return the shots from the book dipository. ..


    the italian 303 slug through the neck was enough to kill JFK, but the m16 round from the SS weapon was what finished the day....

  6. #6
    Registered User 82436's Avatar
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    Smile

    Veg, great write up on your trip. I've traveled those same roads many while living in Dallas. Never had the nerve to ride the bike through lower Greenville and Deep Elum at night, too many drunks in cages. Sure made me homesick, but I've retired, moved out of Dallas to western North Carolina, and don't have to ride 50 miles just to find an interesting road. Would spend many a weekend on FM 455 and 121. Ride up to Muenster for Saturday morning breakfast.

    Great post Veg, keep it up.

  7. #7
    Have bike, will travel lancew's Avatar
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    Several years ago, I went on a "blind" road trip with some friends- it was a 30th birthday party for one of the crew, and her brother loaded us all into a minnie winnebago in Cookeville TN without telling us where we were going. We just headed west, blender at full hum, until we got to Dallas for a surprise Jimmy Buffett show. It was a great evening, and after the show we "limped" to a parking lot in a "party" section of town, where we drew the blinds and collapsed.

    When we woke up the next morning, we realized that we were in a parking lot less than two blocks from where the shooting took place. We saw the monuments and toured the book depository, and we were all moved by what we found. Words don't describe the experience. If you ever get the chance to go there, do it. The events of that day still resonate strongly, and you won't walk away unchanged. You can still feel the panic, shock, and sorrow in the air. Whatever really took place (I've seen and could believe the "Accidental Secret Service Bullet" story), it's a place where we all changed- even those of us who weren't even born when it happened.
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  8. #8
    Happy to be here! :) The_Veg's Avatar
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    Spider, I haven't been to Muenster yet but my club has an informal Saturday ride most weeks that often goes there or nearby. I have yet to make it on one of those rides for countless reasons but I think I'll be able to soon. The parts of 121 I've been on are okay on a rare untrafficked day, but in the last few years Plano and Frisco have exploded in suburban sprawl and that road is usually full of cages and cement- mixers and gravel trucks (and a few sunny-day cruiser-types).
    I also haven't done 455 yet but just across 75 there's a nice little bit of 545 I really like between Melissa and Blue Ridge. Barely ten miles, and the good part is less than that, but it gives me a warm grin. Did some nice backroads between Rockwall and Jefferson recently too.
    I also just read the article in Ride Texas mag about a daytrip from Dallas to Archer City and I'm wanting to try that one, despite the fact that I don't recall the author saying much about the roads along the way. Interesting destination though as there's an amazing book store there owned by Larry McMurtry (who actually works there too). About 300.000 used books in four buildings, arranged "erratically/impressionistically/whimsically/open to interpretation," according to a sign in the store. Which reminds me- if any of you are book lovers and will be in Dallas anytime, let me know- I live across the street from the GARGANTUAN main store of Half Price Books, probably the greatest new/used/buy/sell book store on the planet. This main store is about the size of a Wal-Mart or Target and is a great place to spend countless hours and dollars. Book fiends beware- this place will be dangerous for you!

  9. #9
    Registered User 82436's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    Originally posted by The Veg
    The parts of 121 I've been on are okay on a rare untrafficked day, but in the last few years Plano and Frisco have exploded in suburban sprawl and that road is usually full of cages and cement- mixers and gravel trucks (and a few sunny-day cruiser-types).
    Veg, there are two Highway 121's north of Dallas. State Hwy 121 between McKinney and Lewisville is a mess, but I'm referring to FM121. Pick up FM121 at Van Alstyne (on US75 about 30 miles north of Plano) and head west to Tioga (Gene Autry's birthplace, but now more famous for its great barbeque). Almost no traffic (except the other bikers) on Sunday mornings. Go south from Tioga, to Pilot Point and pick up FM455 back east through Celina back to Anna (on US75 about 5 miles south of Van Alstyne). Great little round trip with about as many curves as you can find in north Texas. Pretty good ride for a Sunday morning.

    I'll look for you when I get a chance to get back in the Dallas area.

  10. #10
    Happy to be here! :) The_Veg's Avatar
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    Oh *THAT* 121! No I don't think I've sampled it yet, although I've ridden some in that general region. No plans tomorrow as yet so I may go out and do that, weather permitting (getting a tad chilly here the last few days and I ride a damn-near-nekkid R100R...).

  11. #11
    Registered User 82436's Avatar
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    Originally posted by The Veg
    (getting a tad chilly here the last few days and I ride a damn-near-nekkid R100R...).
    Have a great ride Veg - here in western NC, I put Stabil in my R1100RS's gas tank today and stored it for the winter. This is what it looked like outside my garage this morning.
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