Started and spent most of the day around Dallas/Carrollton/Arlington in Texas. Met up with Aunt Silvia and family, including four dogs and a pack of hens. After breakfast, I got a driving tour of downtown Dallas (it was so nice to be in the passenger seat for once!) and then Tia Silvia and I visited the Dallas Arboretum. We only had time to walk through half of the park, but that half was beautifully ornamented with pumpkins and other autumn decorations. (The pictures are on my iPad and will have to be uploaded later.)
After the arboretum, we headed into Arlington for lunch with my cousin Fidel who is doing really great work counseling gifted underprivileged and first generation students. I hadn’t realized how much of the family was doing work in education, but was even more surprised to hear about much the state of Texas supports it education system. For example, public education is provided (free) for pre-kindergarten kids; and any Texas student who finishes in the top 10% of his/her class is guaranteed acceptance to a UT school ( with a few exceptions for Austin of course).
One thing that did not surprise me was to hear that all public school students are required to say not only the pledge of allegiance to the USA, but also a pledge of allegiance to Texas. When I asked my mom if she remembered it, she recited the pledge right there and then with no hesitation. These Texans are nuts.
After incredible tamales from the Dallas Tortilla and Tamale Factory, run by a woman with the cutest Dallas accent that I just wanted to bottle up, I got on the road headed south to try to make some ground toward Harlingen. Ended up in North Austin at a super seedy Red Roof Inn. We got in the room quickly and I stationed Zoe at the door to keep an ear out for creeps. Needless to say, we were out the door the next morning quicker than any other morning so far.