Blog: Dallas Trip

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Dallas Trip - Friday, November 24, 2023
In October, Priscilla and I went on a 5-day trip to Dallas. And, more so than on previous trips, almost nothing went as expected!

Why Dallas? Priscilla likes to find places that have cheap flights and then plan the trip around that. Round-trip tickets to Dallas were just $101 on Spirit Airlines. Also, she wanted to visit the Capital One Lounge at DFW again. And there was a treetop obstacle course called Go Ape in Plano (20 minutes from North Dallas) that was the main incentive for me, since I'd always wanted to do one of those.

We departed Saturday morning and the flight was a little over 3 hours. Spirit is a budget airline that charges for everything, so we didn't have snacks on the plane. We did of course stop by The Club at SJC before our flight, and we effectively had dinner at a lounge at DFW called Plaza Premium. The food at the latter was pretty good!

We took the shuttle to Thrifty to pick up our rental car. We had booked the manager's special, the cheapest option, and to our surprise and somewhat horror, we were given a Chevy Bolt EUV - an electric vehicle! Apparently, Thrifty is owned by Hertz, and 10% of Hertz's fleet is electric. We'd had no prior experience with EVs, and vacation in an unfamiliar area was the worst way to get up to speed. But more on that later.

It was around 8pm when we checked into our hotel at the Holiday Inn Express. We walked to the nearby Walmart (nearby meaning a mile away) to get a few groceries for our trip. And that was pretty much it for the day - just a travel day.

The next day, we drove up to Oak Point Park in Plano where Go Ape operates from. The obstacle course is 30 feet up in the tree canopy. The height made me a little nervous at first, but I quickly got over it and started focusing just on how best to get through the course. Some obstacles required some strength and endurance, but there was nothing too crazy, except for one impossibly hard obstacle that I and others had to zip through instead of doing "properly".

Priscilla did the hard obstacles with me since we missed a transition point where she could've taken an easier route. She was tired by the end of Course 3, so she sat it out while I did Courses 4 and 5. That was too bad since Course 5 was easier than 3 and 4 and had arguably the most fun obstacle - the Tarzan Swing. Hopefully we can do something like this again and both make it to the end!

After Go Ape, we drove over to a nearby business park to charge the car. There was only a level 2 charger there and it was pretty slow, but it was the best thing we could find nearby. We'd found it using the ChargePoint app, which seems like the main way to find public chargers outside the Tesla network. We walked over to a nearby plaza where there were a lot of Asian stores including 99 Ranch and 85 Degrees. After a long lunch and a leisurely walk about, we returned to the car and found that it had charged 31 miles over 2.5 hours - barely enough charge to cover our trip to Plano and back.

The next day, we did some sightseeing in Downtown Dallas. We first drove around trying to find a place to charge, but the two free chargers at City Hall were taken, the one inside a residential garage was broken, and one was supposedly inside a public parking garage but we didn't want to go in since you had to pay starting from the first minute. We eventually just parked the car a mile from downtown, not charging. Our trip had become all about finding places to charge and we were failing. I can't see how widespread adoption of EVs is viable. The charging infrastructure is just not there.

Since it was lunchtime, we walked over to the Dallas Farmers Market and perused the different shops before deciding on jerk chicken at a Jamaican place. It was decent but wasn't as good as Back a Yard in San Jose, which in turn probably can't hold a candle to food in actual Jamaica.

After lunch, we walked around and saw the Giant Eyeball, AT&T Discovery District, JFK Memorial, Pioneer Plaza, and City Hall. And that was it for the day. A pretty low-key day, but I guess that's how we roll.

It was raining most of Tuesday, so we just stayed in the hotel and did work instead of visiting Fort Worth like we had planned. But the rain let up on Wednesday and we were able to walk around the Fort Worth Stockyards for an hour before returning to the airport. We missed the daily cattle drive, but we saw the longhorns in their pen afterwards. The Stockyards felt a little touristy and I wouldn't really call this place a must-see, but it was fun enough to walk around and explore.

We had decided to just return the car to Thrifty undercharged and pay the $35 fee. A minor fee to avoid a lot of headache. We returned the car with around 40% charge remaining, but interestingly, Thrifty never charged us the fee. Maybe they felt sorry for us, or just didn't want to process it.

Finally, back at the airport we headed straight to the Capital One Lounge where, after a 10 minute wait, we enjoyed a variety of hot food, sparkling water, and desserts. We tried to also visit Plaza Premium but the place was packed and we weren't able to get in before our flight. Which was fine because we were pretty full from the previous lounge!

Overall, this trip wasn't as restful or as eventful as we had hoped, but it was enjoyable and memorable in its own way. I'm writing this a month late because it's been insanely busy at work, with me putting in a lot of overtime to wrap up a large project that's been on the books for too long. Priscilla has already booked a trip to Japan for next March, so hopefully during that trip things will go a bit more smoothly and I won't have to think about work.