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Should Have Pinged Lake Texoma Sooner, Rather Than Later

June 17th, 2013 · Tags:Cities · Politics · Wi-Fi

The side job — “The Dirty Gig” — that keeps me traveling the country sometimes also landlocks me right here in Fort Worth, such as now.  So, the other day I started looking around for a weekend adventure … a short roadtrip … and some Wi-Fi exploration close to home.

Otherwise, I might never have visited Denison.

Even on a motorcycle, it is an easy trip, just 70 miles north of Dallas.  The ride was a quick little getaway with vacation flare. There is a nostalgic downtown with lots of old storefronts, great residential architecture in the neighborhoods, a railroad museum … and oh yes, the 12th largest lake of its kind in The United States, Lake Texoma, is just a stone’s skip away.

Why didn’t I know more about this sooner?

Perhaps it is because Fort Worth has PK (Possum Kingdom Lake) and Dallas has Ray Hubbard and Lake Lewisville (Lake of Death, I call it)  so I have never heard of any of my Metroplex friends going to Lake Texoma. It is an Army Corps of Engineers creation, a five-year project completed in 1944, with an impressive dam across the Red River (which of course divides the T-X from the O-K).


But man, what a lake. I rode all around it on the Triumph and the locals tell me I picked a good year. Previously there has been brown, drought-themed scenery the last few years, but a little rain this year painted everything green.


‘On a steel horse I ride.’


There are more marinas than you can shake a stick at, and lots of campsites … several empty ones on the day I pulled over to sit in the shade, overlooking a cove, and blogged with my iPad and 3G wireless technology. Nope … sorry no Wi-Fi in this campground, the Preston Bend Recreation Area.

As I toured, I noticed something I love even more than water, a basketball court.  Near the shoreline was a church camp, where I saw hoops.  (Recently a friend and I had been discussing that I needed to go shoot around a bit, to see “if I still have it.”)  So, this goal by the road was like a godsend.  Swoosh! I whipped the Triumph into the camp driveway and parked by the mailbox.  So, while the campers were inside worshipping on Sunday morning, I was outside doing the same, in my own way, appreciating that two basketballs had been provided, sitting there in the grass by the side of the road.

I noticed a plethora of sailboats (I’m saving “armada” for later in the blog …) docked at Grandpappy Point, I think they call it, and wondered why more sails weren’t out on water for such a beautiful, partly cloudy weekend.


(Special note to the tour bikers, there are a few places where paved road abruptly turns to loose gravel … watch yo self.)


In Denison, I stayed at a modest, but new and clean Comfort Suites on I-75. (I have points, and I ain’t ashamed to use them.)  The Suites has a clean pool, free and easy Wi-Fi and it’s perched up on a hill overlooking the highway. On a clear day, you can see all the way into Oklahoma where the wind blows free …


Nightlife? Ha … you be the judge. On one end of Main Street there was an armada of pick-em-up trucks circled around for an outdoor country music festival. The artists were all bands I had not heard of, but … hah, with my knowledge of today’s country, they could have been huge.


I opted for air conditioning on the other end of Main Street and a little more nostalgic approach to country music (and some vintage rock) at The Red River Opry, on stage live in the great old Rialto Theater.


When the band took a break after Johnny Rodriguez’s “Pass Me By,” I went exploring on the two floors of the old theater. The view of the stage from the balcony is awesome, almost like you are right on top of the performers. On the second floor landing there are some old antique film projectors, and an old Hollywood studio light, some refurbished theater seats, and an assortment of vitage popcorn buckets and old wax-and-paper Dr. Pepper cups, that are wrinkled and worn as if they have only recently been swept off the floor of a featured film engagement. The theater was built in 1920.


The Rialto


Does it have Wi-Fi? Yes, however, the hotspot is locked down and for management use only. Bummer.


No worries, I was already won over by the theater’s charm, if not its camp – 6 pings.


As the band played on, throughout their first set, they brought out various newcomers to showbiz, in all shapes and sizes, from 9-year-old boys, to almost elderly women who fronted the band for one number per capita. My favorite was definitely a redhaired yound lady, jeans tucked in her boots, hiding behind a guitar she strummed in the truest sense of the word …  who belted out one of my favorite songs ever – “Some Day Soon.”


“He loves that damned old rodeo …”  Ha … I wept, openly … I digress.


The band was pretty impressive, assembled from local Denisonians (if the townspeople are not in fact called Denisonians, they should be, it sounds cool). Special note: One of their regular musical guests is now in the finals on America’s Got Talent … but I missed out on a treat there, I am sure. Most of the performers had talent. Some got mercy applause.



Also most noteworthy, President Dwight D. Eisenhower – #34 – was born a Denisonian, although he later converted to Republicanism.  There is a huge bust of the five-star general south of town on I-75 … I mean huge, a reminder of when presidents had huge heads and huge … well, let’s just say it was before today’s emasculated ilk.  I digress …


President Dwight D. Eisenhower


Enjoyed some nice art work too, corporate art.  Can’t remember the last time I pulled over to take a photo at a bank, but the abstract horse sculptures at Landmark Bank sucked me in.


And perhaps my favorite stop in Denison was my first. I was cruising on the bike down Main Street when I saw this obvious character of a woman selling hotdogs on the corner. I was hungry and there is just something about a woman wearing big bright round clown-like sunglasses. I pulled over and enjoyed a dog and conversation.


Hmmmm … I said character. Here are my notes … from Oklahoma, loves Stephen King, majored in mortuary science (that figures), works in real estate when not selling hot dogs, sings Heart and Joan Jett at karaoke and is a huge Flaming Lips Fan. Interesting.


Know what I sayin?