Carrollton Collages

To get to the Carrollton Festival at the Switchyard I rode my bike to the Arapaho Red Line DART station – hung my bike on the transit hook and rode downtown (as always, I was a minute late, missed my train, and was twenty minutes late downtown – I need to cut that crap out), met a friend, and we then rode the Green line out to Carrollton. It would have been quicker to drive my car down Beltline (to get anywhere in Dallas you start out driving down Beltline Road) – but then I would have had to find a place to park, plus there is a lot of freedom and flexibility in having a bicycle. With a bicycle and a DART pass – I can go anywhere.

At any rate, heading back downtown, waiting for the train, I had the time to look around at the artwork on the Carrollton station. To my uneducated, ignorant, and untrained eye, DART has done an admirable job of adding artwork to its train stations – at least as far as a giant government bureaucracy can be expected to go. Maybe I should do some blog entries on some of my favorites….

At the Carrollton station – elevated high in the air (cool view from up there) over where I suppose the old switching yard might have been, I noticed all these little windows cut into the concrete pillars supporting the roof structure. In each window was an old photograph combined with, or framed by, pieces of found metal. It made for a series of interesting and entertaining collages. The time spent waiting for the train was reduced by me dashing up and down, looking into the little windows at the parade of aged faces and arranged fragments of history.

Later, at home, an internet search led me quickly to the artist, James Michael Starr. Although, he seems to be unhappy with the initial installation – everything seems to have worked out and his collages are there for the enjoyment of the unwashed masses. The bits of metal seem to be mostly artifacts that the artist was able to dig up around the area, now on display, high in the air… forever waiting for the next train.

Collage by James Michael Starr, Carrollton DART station.

Collage by James Michael Starr, Carrollton DART station.

Collage by James Michael Starr, Carrollton DART station.

Collage by James Michael Starr, Carrollton DART station.

Collage by James Michael Starr, Carrollton DART station.

Collage by James Michael Starr, Carrollton DART station.

Collage by James Michael Starr, Carrollton DART station.

Collage by James Michael Starr, Carrollton DART station.

Arbor Hills and Carrollton Blue and Orange

The overlook at Arbor Hills Nature Preserve in Plano, Texas.

Slowly, I am able to ride farther and farther on my bike. I’m still slow – I am riding an old, inefficient mountain bike (which does have the advantage of being able to go anywhere). I have my ancient road bike which I’m trying to get into rideable condition… but I am struggling with mystery flats. When it is fixed I should be able to up my speed and distance. Right now I am limited not so much by my fitness but by time and the amount of water I can carry. I drink an amazing amount of water in this heat.

What I like to do on weekends sometime is to load up my bike in the back of the Matrix, fill a cooler with bottles of iced water, and set out across the city. I use GoogleMaps on my phone, with the Bicycling option turned on – showing up the bike trails and dedicated lanes bright green. I look for long stretches or connected clusters and give a shot at riding somewhere I haven’t been before.

On Sunday, I headed northwest and the first place I came across was the Arbor Hills Nature Preserve. This is a large Plano park which I had seen a couple years ago when I made a wrong turn leaving the hospital where Candy was getting surgery. It had an odd parking lot, beige rock buildings, and a big ol’ mess of hilly woods. I looked it up online and had wanted to pay a visit ever since.

It was an interesting place to ride a bicycle. First – it does lack distance – only a couple miles of paved trails (I wasn’t in the mood for hitting the dirt). It isn’t a very good place for speed either – the trails are lousy with clots of people wandering around and others walking their dogs.

What is nice, though, is its hills. There are a lot of wooded nature trails in the Dallas area, but almost all of them are located in worthless river bottom floodplain and are as flat as a pancake. Arbor Hills has a good bit of ups and downs – not enough to make it too difficult or even unpleasant, but enough for a good workout.

The trails all wind around and rise up to a stone lookout, a nice destination, a pretty place looking out over the trees and scrub fields with only a hint of the millions of rooftops rising along the horizon – a reminder of the fact that you are not really in a wilderness, but merely a forgotten pocket of vegetation left over somehow when the world was paved over.

I looped around a couple of times, then packed my bike up and drove on. I wanted to go down to Carrollton and check out their trails. I had read about how they had been doing a lot of work on extending their hike/bike trail network. I did a circuit of their Orange and Blue trail routes, about ten miles total.

I applaud their work, and some of their trails are nice… running beside some swampy ponds and wild green creeks. They need to do more to access the network, though. It was fine for some exercise, but the pavement doesn’t really go anywhere – it would not work for commuting to work or shopping.

Sitting at a little shaded bench I gulped down my last bottle of cold water and knew it was time to head back to the car and go home. There is always tomorrow, and more stretches of pavement in a different direction.