The Deep Ellum Wine Walk is the Best Cardio

In celebration of the Deep Ellum Wine Walk this evening, it’s time to share my love of this event. I’m always looking for local Dallas happenings, so I was excited to find out about a Deep Ellum one seeing as that’s about five minutes from my house. That it involves drinking wine is even better!

The idea of the wine walk is that you pay ten dollars for a local artist-designed glass and then you head out to certain shops along Main Street that fill your glass with wine while you browse their store. The theory is to get out and explore the locally owned shops of your neighborhood, all with the incentive of wine.

After making a habit of this three times, I can definitely say I’m a fan. Sure the wine and the buzz alone might be a good enough reason for walking around downtown, but the truth is it’s such a great experience. You meet people, talk to the faces behind the businesses, and find yourself on a journey with other adventurous types.

The usual stops along the wine route include an art gallery, handmade jewelry shop, home goods store, realtor, burlesque school, sex shop, and an old fashioned soda pop shop. Some I like looking at the accessories, some I get a little out of my comfort zone, and some I get drunk at and buy twenty dollars worth of candy. All around, a good time.

I could go on and on about how great the wine walk is – but this time I’m just going to leave you with some pictures. And maybe if you happen to make it for one you’ll see me around!

Tulip Fields with Mom

In honor of Mother’s Day being yesterday, I wanted to share a trip I took recently out to Pilot Point, TX. My wonderful mom and I were already headed out near the area to see my brother’s fiancé’s wedding venue. A quick little detour west and we’d have a chance to check out the “Texas Tulips” that local Dallasites had been raving about.

It ended up being such a nice day! We’d been having a long winter, but the sun came out especially for us to explore all the different types of tulips. After a bit of navigating, we were parking in a big open field with a bunch of other people.

The first thing we had to learn walking in was how to pick a tulip. It’s a bulb flower, so there were a few signs with instruction that the key was to pull the stem as close to the ground as possible. This would let the full stem come up and would be easier than trying to snap it off.

While I do love flowers, I mostly wanted my mom to have this bouquet because I knew she’d think it was so special. My mom is always thinking of everyone else, so it was a nice treat to be thought of herself. I wanted her to have a nice colorful arrangement, so the first step was encouraging her to look at more than the red ones.

I had no idea there were so many colors of tulips! There were pinks and yellows and oranges and violets. They also had some with frilly edges, some that had very few petals, and some that grew completely open.

Walking the fields judging flower quality with my mom was honestly such a great time. I’d underestimated how different yet similar my mother’s and my taste was. I learned to let her pick the style and then offer up which one I thought was the best quality of that style.

Having gathered enough for a cute bouquet (and also realizing we might be a tiny bit late to the venue meeting) we headed to the arrangers who would cut and wrap our selection. Everyone was so friendly and excited for us, even though they must do this all day long.

Overall, such a great little adventure with mom! And of course, every time I talked to her for weeks, she mentioned her flowers, how they were doing, and how much she loved the whole experience.

Arbor Hills Nature Preserve

I was very excited about this local hike. I’d seen one of my friends frequent it and it looked a bit woodsy and very spacious. It was a bit further north of Dallas in the city of Plano, so I invited my friend Lola for a morning hike since she was on the way.

After a quick coffee stop (of course) we headed out there. When we first got there it seemed everything was paved and well done – quite a fancy park. We didn’t see too helpful of a map, so we just decided to pick one of the cement paths and see what we could find.

Very quickly, we found an offshoot dirt path. I don’t mind nice parks, but I was very glad to see dirt trails and what seemed like a lot of mileage. Afterward, I discovered there is equally three miles of paved trails and three miles of unpaved trails.

The two of us were a bit chatty this morning, but I was glad to find only a couple of other people were out on the trails because of the cooler weather and the weekday. Lola and I weren’t sure where we were headed because we essentially had no map so we just decided to pick directions randomly. (This is normally so unsafe but I knew it was all one big loop so there’d be no real way to get lost if we stuck to the trail – we just might end up hiking more miles than we’d planned.)

The trails were mostly pretty flat, so very easy, but interspersed with a lot of interesting trail additions like ledges and bridges. The nature aspect was also pretty great. At times there were woods, fields, creeks, and even a lake!

We passed a very nice, big pavilion, found the restrooms, and knew we were close to the car. Around this area, we finally discovered a big map, but having not kept track it was too hard to know where we’d gone exactly.

At this point, me and Lola were pretty cold so we decided since we’d stumbled upon the parking lot, it was time to head out. On our way out on the last little trail, we spotted a few cardinals playing in the trees. It was so great!

I know I will definitely be back because of all the rural trails I’ve yet to explore. I’m especially excited to check it out again now that it’s getting warmer. Warmer weather means more enjoyable hikes – and also more wildlife!

Yoga but with Goats

As you know, I’ve been trying to experience new things in Dallas – so when I heard that there was something called “goat yoga” I knew I had to check it out!

They had a special weekday yoga session for Valentine’s Day, so I booked two spots for me and my friend Jenna since it was also her birthday.

This yoga was at a house in Richardson, a suburb just north of Dallas. Being at someone’s home made it feel really relaxing and fun. It didn’t feel super commercialized and I could tell the owners treated the goats just like their family pets, which I really liked.

We went in through the backyard gate, signed in and checked out the table of goodies to grab. Of course, there were complimentary yoga mats and towels (required for the mud-playing goats). They also offered bottled water and glow sticks since the sun would be setting by the end of the hour. Best and most importantly, there were cups and cups of goat feed!

After gathering our stuff, it was time to head to the yard and make some new furry friends. Immediately, they were all over us and we could barely get them out of the way to lay our mats. We were absolutely delighted!

Quickly realizing we would need to grab a second helping each of goat feed, we stocked up just before the teacher started class. She explained that while she hoped we would enjoy the yoga portion, the goats were obviously the stars of this show. Her instruction was to follow along when you could, but no one would mind if you stopped warrior pose to play with a goat.

The other great thing about this mentality meant that they encouraged interaction with the goats by actually putting some of the feed on your back and shoulders so you might get a goat to hop up on you for some tandem yoga poses. Everyone was having such a great time. I’ll admit they were heavy and I gained a couple bruises – but the laughter was definitely worth it.

Different in the Day, View from the Top

Having grown up around Dallas, I’ve done almost all of the “touristy” things when I was little, but now that I’m older I want to make sure I fully experience the city I call home. The main goal of the day was to be at the Reunion Tower (the “big ball”) around sunset.

Before that though, I was excited to check out a place I’d never really been to in the day: Deep Ellum (Elm). I’ve spent a lot of nights on Elm, bar hopping and checking out concerts, but there was a whole other side to the District I’d never explored.

After a coffee jumpstart (of course) at Murray Street Coffee, we just started walking. Deep Ellum is mainly two streets – Elm and Main – that house bars, venues, restaurants, and a collection of the most random shops you’ve never been to. There’s a few places (such as Murray) that close by six, which was the main draw of our Deep Ellum day walking.

I love this District because it’s close to my home, but also because of all the artistic folks that seem to flock to it. There’s graffiti all over, always new, always interesting. And the second highlight of this adventure: Deep Vellum Books.

I love independent bookshops. This shop also houses their small publishing company, responsible for publishing fresh voices and cavalier ideas. The shop is small, but full of treasures, and I spent a long time reading the backs of covers and even starting a handful of stories. They were all great, so I was ready to buy one of each. (I controlled myself and bought only one.)

They also had this incredible coin machine, where for fifty cents and a twist of the rest wrist, out popped a short story complete with matching cover art. It was pretty cool! I used all the quarters in my purse and took home original stories from local writers. We checked out a few more shops, had a good time in the sun enjoying ice cream at Wild About Harry’s.

Finally it was time to head to Reunion Tower! I have a vague memory of going there with my dad when I was a little girl. I just remember it being really dark and not too many people. At that time (unless my memory is worse than I think), there was just a chainlink fence from floor to ceiling around the outdoor viewing. My dad picked me up and put my feet standing on the single waist-high bar and I leaned against the thin, cold fence to look out at the city. I remember being excited and scared and dazzled.

There was no chainlink fence on this reunion visit (sorry, couldn’t resist). There were much sturdier iron bars and while I wasn’t afraid for me, I was comically terrified I would drop my phone. Every picture where I got even close to the edge, I had two hands tightly gripped to my phone. It was so weird! I just imagined it would slip any moment and be lost to the sky.

The weather was only a little chilly and the 360* view was amazing. I spent a long time looking at every edge of my city and watching its’ inhabitants movements. As the sky deck cleared out and the sun started to descend, I felt happy. I’ve spent a lot of time traveling, making it a point to discover new places, but it’s always a delight when I can find new things to love about my own hometown.

All Grown Up Girl Scout

As you probably know by now, I’m all into local events and new experiences! What you may not know was that I was a Girl Scout for years when I was a kid! I had such a great time with friends, learning new things, attuning to the outdoors. So when I found out a local Dallas restaurant was doing a Girl Scout cookie and beer pairing, I figured why not!

One of my best friends is still one of my fellow Girl Scouts, even after all these years, so I called her up to join in my adult Girl Scout adventure. And Giselle, always have the best ideas, said we should dig out our old vests and take a little trip down memory lane while we were at it! Of course that seemed like a perfect idea to me.

The restaurant Luck was hosting this event, located in the fairly new Trinity Groves area of Dallas. It’s all mostly upscale eateries in this Burroughs across the now-iconic Margaret Hunt Bridge so I haven’t done too much exploring here. I was glad to have the chance to learn more about one of the fast-growing areas of my hometown Dallas.

When we got to Luck, they had a Girl Scouts cookie booth set up by a local troop so of course we had to show our solidarity to our Girls and buy a box! Then it was time to head inside and have some beer and cookies.

I got to be honest, I’m not sure the cookies really complimented the beer in three out of four of the pairings. This might be because it’s hard to have an old favorite treat suddenly with beer. Pretty quickly, I ditched the “pairing” idea and just ate, drank, and socialized without following their system.

As it always goes, the socializing part of it made it the most memorable. Giselle and I talked about how hardcore our Girl Scout troop had been (in a great way with actual camping and badge-earning achievements) and and trudged up fond old memories like a bunch of old ladies. As they say, once a Girl Scout, always a Girl Scout.

Volunteering at the Cedar Ridge Preserve

One of the great things I found out about recently is the REI upcoming events page. Not only do they have the dates for upcoming classes and the quartet Garage sale (which is hands down so great), they also list local outdoorsy community service projects. When I saw they would be working on clearing some trails at the Cedar Ridge Preserve, I immediately signed up.

My friend Lola and I were pretty excited not only to help out REI but also to check out a new set of trails. Originally we were in the prairie clearing group, but after losing track of them, we ending up with the branch clearing group on one of the inner trails. It wasn’t too hard and everyone was really friendly. We carried branches and vines about fifty yards off the trail to be composted, and ended up making some great progress.

Afterwards as a treat, REI had cold watermelon and free swag for us. It was such a great experience and such a good way to connect with other local hikers, I’m definitely on the lookout for more of these trail cleanup opportunities.

One of the Preserve’s manager told me he clears an entire two trash bags worth of plastic water bottles and wrappers a day and it’s still not enough. This made me immediately start bringing plastic bags on every hike to start cleaning up a trail as I go. It’s so easy to spot a gross crumpled up bottle, it’s an easy way to keep a trail clean by grabbing it on my way.

About a month after this event, I went back to the Cedar Ridge Preserve to explore more of the trails. I love how large it is and how well kept the trails are. It’s also basically zero pavement, which I really enjoy. I went on a Friday morning, my favorite time for trail exploring, and only ran into a couple of people.

The hills were fortified with wooden steps and there were several benches placed in scenic stops. It was really beautiful and varied. I have definitely made it one of my favorite hiking spots.