Today was the day to say goodbye to the Chevy Suburban. Since collecting it at LAX, it had served us well for 2,733 miles (4,370km). Our plan had been to have a 4WD for the first part of the trip in case we needed to go off-road (the website for Monument Valley recommended a 4WD), then swap to a sedan at Dallas-Fort Worth airport for the second part of our drive.
Truth be told, at no stage of the trip so far had we needed 4WD, but driving a huge SUV was part of the fun, so I was glad we’d hired one. Having said that, the 17mpg didn’t make it the most economical choice, so lucky fuel had been costing between 80 and 90 cents a litre.
I left Jane to resume the great boot search in Fort Worth, and went to swap the cars at the airport. Our second booking was for a Lincoln Town Car (or similar). This time I was hoping the “or similar” would come into play, as the Town Car is a bit of relic of a bygone era, and has a reputation for being a big, wallowy Yank Tank. They are ubiquitously used as the car of choice for limo companies, both in standard and stretched form, but I was hoping for something a bit more indicative of the strides forward the American auto industry has taken in the last decade.
Fortunately, the girl at the Hertz desk was sympathetic to my cause – “you’re driving all the way to New York, honey? Well, let’s see if we can put you is something a bit better than a Town Car, uh huh”. Double fortunately, she was also one of the rare breed of rental car assistants who know their way around the computer booking system, and was able to work the system to secure an alternative car.
After a brief wait, I was driving out of the airport in a Cadillac CTS. What better brand name for a car for a Trans American roadtrip ??? Although “Cadillac” might conjure up images of a big ol’ convertible with horns on the front, a la Boss Hogg of Dukes of Hazzard fame, this car is much more 21st century. It is hard to judge, but I’m guessing it is slightly smaller than a Commodore, and I think it is General Motors attempt to build a car to compete with a BMW 3 series (or similar).
What was immediately obvious though, after being in the super-sized Suburban for the past couple of weeks, was how small a normal sized sedan feels on American roads. Particularly in Texas, most vehicles zipping past you on the freeways seem to be Pickup trucks (utes on steroids). Having dropped down in size to a sedan, I was getting the distinct impression one of them could use you as a speed bump and not even notice.
After collecting Jane and her new boots (and jeans and leather jacket … and I might have bought some boots too … ) back at the hotel, we drove the 30 miles into Dallas for some tourist action.
Our main visit was to the “Sixth Floor Museum”, located in the Texas Book Store Depository from where Lee Harvey Oswald (supposedly) shot John F Kennedy. Interestingly, where the sign at the front door bans photography and videotaping in the museum, it also informs you that firearms are banned. Strange that needs to be said when entering a museum to one of the most infamous shootings of all time, but you know these Southern boys and their right to bear arms …
The museum is really well done, providing insight into the Kennedy family and JFK’s administration. It also doesn’t shy away from the fact a number of conspiracy theories exist around whether Oswald was a lone shooter or was part of a bigger plot. It also doesn’t draw any definitive conclusions one way or the other.
I walked away happy to accept that Oswald did fire a gun that did shoot JFK, but not entirely convinced that he was a lone gunman. The fact that the police were able to find and apprehend him, some distance from the Book Depository, within 2 hours of the shooting just seems all a bit too neat, and suggests there were bigger forces at play. Alas, I guess we will never know for sure what actually happened.
By the time we had finished at the museum and had a quick look around the streets of the historic area of Dallas, it was back on the road again to head east into Arkansas.
Despite ambitions at the start of the day of making it to Little Rock, driving into the night we made it as far as a small town called Arkadelphia, and found another chain hotel on the side of the Interstate to pull into for the night.