Fort Worth Information

20 September 2009

Not the day I had planned for myself, but a good one nonetheless. My original plan had been to attend a crop at Dana’s house and see a bunch of girlfriends I love. As it turned out, I simply couldn’t pull myself away from “home” to go. I have no good excuse—I’m just being a little bit wishy washy this week. There are so many things I want to do, and just not enough time to get them all done, and still be ready for my little trip next week, and then TRF the very next week. I am still unpacking my truck!

So, I stayed home, got a little more housework, and a lot of computer work done. And then, when Kyle was hungry with a craving for fish and chips, I allowed myself to be lured from the house with the notion of food. We headed for The Fox and Hound in Arlington and then realized (the drivers in other cars were hanging their be-starred arms out their windows) we were headed toward the hell-mouth known as Jerry-World (aka Cowboy Stadium) on a game day! Bad idea. We wanted to be anywhere but Cooper Street an hour and a half before kick-off. So, we headed west, instead of east, and landed at the Fox and Hound in downtown Fort Worth, instead.

I have been reminded that I have been there once before, many moons ago. But, when we first walked in, it was completely unfamiliar and I was amazed at how huge the place is. We weren’t there to watch a game, so we opted for the more intimate eastern wing where the ceiling (and the lighting) is low and the seating is mostly snugs. But, we could see and hear the big bar area, and after eating we walked up the stairs so I could see the pool hall and second bar. I can only imagine that soon after we left the place probably filled with football fans.

We left there, having scoped the place for Pub Guys possibilities, and decided we should do the same at The Flying Saucer. So, we walked the short distance and walked around in there for a while, opting not to spend more money on more beer. While walking, I took two photos—this one, and today’s photo of the day.

For most of my life, when I stop to think about it, I am disappointed in the system—or lack thereof—for informing the public in general, and tourists in particular, about our country. Having travelled fairly extensively in the United Kingdom, we have become completely enamoured of the “i” for “information” signs that dot the map. Find an “i” on your map, get to the city center of that town, follow the arrows, and walk in. Inside any “i” location you find not only all the tourist information you could possibly want and at no cost, but also souvenirs available for purchase, and a helpful clerk or two to assist you in making your reservations for hotel or bed/breakfast accommodations, anywhere you want to go! For Kyle and I, many a day in England or Scotland has involved finding an “i” before close of business so we would know where we were staying that night.  In 1995, we spent our whole two-week honeymoon like that.  And, using those “i” spots is a major memory from my childhood trip there in the early seventies. It’s so friendly and so easy, and we’ve often commented about how in our huge country, such a system would be even more valuable, and yet there isn’t one.

Or is there?

Sure, you can walk into any big box bookstore and buy a travel guide to whichever part of our country you are touring. And, if you prefer your travel stops to be more intimate, you can buy a guide to bed and breakfasts, while you’re there, knowing that it won’t be completely accurate. And we all know that any motel or hotel lobby worth its salt will have a rack of tourist brochures to the local attractions and points of interest. Each individual hotel chain will also happily give you the booklet of all their own locations nationwide. And, to be completely fair, today’s modern “rest stops” along the Eisenhower interstate freeways are frequently home to travel information brochures, maps, etc.  But, to have all that sort of information and a helpful human all in one place?  The angels would sing!

I’m pretty sure I heard a “hallelujah” today, when I looked up and saw the sign that is my photo of the day. (I am pretty sure I spotted an “i” sign in Milwaukee this summer, too, but I didn’t investigate it.) I peered in the window, and saw a spacious storefront with counters and photos on the walls . . . computers, of course . . . what else is in there? I must go back and visit when it is open! And such a cute and clever logo—the western boot on the “i.” Now, if only that “i” was on maps and on signposts with directional arrows leading drivers all the way in from the freeway!

Ironically, on our most recent holiday in the UK, there were two times when we found an “i” on the map, drove to the town, followed “i” arrows in concentric circles and never actually found the storefront. We had to assume the brick and mortar spot was gone, and the signage just hadn’t been removed yet. Is it possible that the internet is rendering the services offered by the National Board of Tourism . . . obsolete? And, if so, how interesting that cities in the U.S. would be adding this service, now.