Skipping Rope in the River Bottoms

After I left the Trans.lation Market in Vickery Meadow I took the DART train across the Trinity River. As we were crossing I saw a large group of bicyclists going past on the Santa Fe Trestle Trail. It was the Ye Olden Tymes Vintagey Retro Ride & Picnic – I had hoped to get down there before them, but I wasn’t all that very late.

As I rode down from the train station all the walkers coming the other way said, “They’re a long ways ahead of you.” All of them, really.
“I’ll catch up, don’t worry,” I replied.

And I did. It was a lot of fun.

Skipping rope at Ye Olden Tymes Vintagey Retro Ride & Picnic. (click to enlarge)

Skipping rope at Ye Olden Tymes Vintagey Retro Ride & Picnic.
(click to enlarge)

dear sunset, Nasher XChange, Entry six of Ten

Previously in the Nasher XChange series:

  1. Flock in Space, Nasher XChange, Entry One of Ten
  2. X , Nasher XChange, Entry Two of Ten
  3. Fountainhead , Nasher XChange, Entry Three of Ten
  4. Moore to the Point, Nasher XChange, Entry Four of Ten
  5. Buried House, Nasher XChange, Entry Five of Ten
dear sunset Ugo Rondinone West Dallas, Texas (click to enlarge)

dear sunset
Ugo Rondinone
West Dallas, Texas
(click to enlarge)

When I looked at the Dallas map of the ten Nasher XChange locations, the one that jumped out at me as being in a tough spot to reach without a car was Ugo Rondinone’s dear sunset – a multi-colored pier built out into Fishtrap Lake in far West Dallas. There was no DART station near there, so I started working on a route.

There are some Green line DART stations to the north, but no good way to get across the river. Another idea was to take the train into Downtown Dallas and cross the Trinity River on the Jefferson Viaduct, then ride north and west to Fishtrap Lake. This was doable and I started to plan the details of the route.

But the more I thought about it, the more I thought about an alternate route – a longer route, but one that runs through an area I’ve wanted to explore. I could take the Red Line from Richardson down to the Corinth Station, then head along the Santa Fe Trestle Trail into the river bottoms. A combination of paved bike trails and gravel construction roads would lead me to Hampton Road, and a short ride to Fish Trap Lake. The entire route was six and a half miles one-way, thirteen altogether.

It was a fun ride – the only problem was a strong south wind. There is nothing in the empty river bottoms to stop the wind. Going North I barely had to pedal, but returning South I had to drop down into my low gears and grind it out.

Even with the wind, I enjoyed the ride enough to think about organizing a group ride to return to the lake and the pier. Never was able to pull it off though, the weather took a turn for the worse and I didn’t feel confident bringing other folks down there in the cold.

I’ll go back soon, though. The odd scenery of the wide-open river bottoms surrounded by the crystalline towers of glass skyscrapers is amazing.

The city has big plans for the Trinity – though it is taking decades longer than promised. Still, there’s some new work that looks like it’s about ready. I’ll be there.

(click to enlarge)

You can see the gravel road I rode on in the foreground
(click to enlarge)

From the Nasher Website:

Ugo Rondinone
New York, New York
dear sunset
3200 Fish Trap Rd.
Fish Trap Lake

A vibrant and colorful pier encourages visitors to reflect and bask in the beauty of the sunset over Fish Trap Lake in West Dallas.

Ugo Rondinone is a New York-based mixed-media artist from Switzerland with an international reputation for a body of work that is endlessly inventive and poetic. For Nasher XChange, Rondinone has designed a wooden pier, finished in vibrant colors, to be installed at Fish Trap Lake in West Dallas. Rondinone, who grew up near a lake in Switzerland, is interested in experiences unique to a pier. He describes how the artwork may encourage poetic, romantic and contemplative moments. The pier will face west so that visitors can experience sunset with the intense colors of the sky reflected on the surface of the water around them.

Fish Trap Lake is a small body of water on a 30-acre site owned by the Dallas Housing Authority, just minutes from downtown Dallas. It is surrounded by several schools, a YMCA, a Girls Inc. of Metropolitan Dallas location, a Dallas Public Library branch, and a senior living community. The site originally was part of La Reunion, a utopian community of French, Belgian and Swiss settlers founded in the 1850s. The lake and adjacent cemetery are named for the fishing technique used by the colony in the nearby Trinity River.

Dallas, Texas (click to enlarge)

Dallas, Texas
(click to enlarge)

Santa Fe Trestle Trail

A few weeks ago, looking around I found out about a trail that I had barely heard of nearing completion in Dallas. It isn’t very long and it goes nowhere, but it looks pretty cool.

When they built the DART rail line along the Santa Fe rail right-of-way going across the Trinity River into Oak Cliff, they constructed a new rail bridge over the river. They left the old Santa Fe iron trestle next to the new concrete bridge. Right from the first, there was talk of trying to preserve the old trestle, both the iron bridgework and the wooden timbers. It was decided to build a hike/bike trail over the old trestle. The first plans were to simply build the trail where the rails used to be, but the Corps of Engineers wanted to clear away the old wooden timber piers to allow debris to wash through during flood periods. So the design was modified with new big, curving, concrete approaches to the metal bridge over the river itself. Over the last few years construction continued, cleaning up the old bridge and putting the new trail causeways into the river bottoms.

I found notice that the construction was nearing completion and although it wasn’t officially open, but the trail was walkable. Sunday I wasn’t able to get some of the things done I had planned, but as the day went on, I was running out of time, but I guessed I would have time to go down and check out the trail as the sun set.

There is parking at the Corinth DART station and the entrance to the trail is across the street. It’s a short walk through the swampy river bottoms (there was a lot of water, mud, plus flotsam and jetsam from the recent heavy rains) and then the trail begins to rise along a long, curving elevated causeway. They are still working on the landscaping, but otherwise it looks pretty much finished.

The sun was setting as I reached the bridge itself. It was pretty cool – the path is wide and smooth and there are nice benches set along the way. I enjoyed watching the DART trains going by a few feet away and there are great views of the downtown skyline contrasted with the vast open areas of the Trinity River Bottoms.

The entrance to the trail near the Corinth DART station.

A view of the Dallas Skyline from the trail. (click to enlarge)

The trestle trail going over the Trinity River.

A DART train rumbles by with the biking/hiking trail in front. (click to enlarge)

I didn’t stick around very long – this is not the part of town you want to be hanging out in after dark. As I was walking back to my car I heard some chanting in the distance. As I walked it was closer and I realized I was hearing some sort of yelling through a bullhorn. Finally, I could understand what was being yelled:

“Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho, Columbia Packing has got to go!”

Oh, crap, Columbia Packing. That was the place that became infamous last week when they were busted dumping pig blood into a creek that ran down to the Trinity. I did not realize I was so close to the place. It was only a block or so away and I was walking along a stand of trees that bordered the contaminated creek. There was a demonstration going on trying to shut down the plant.

I want to go back to the trail with a group of bike riders during the day once the park is completely open… it’s a cool place even if it doesn’t connect with anything else (yet) – but still, I was glad to get back to my car and get headed home.

A video of a ride across the bridge from a while back. The construction was a lot further along this weekend, and the water in the river was a lot higher.