Witwithwords Blog

Archive for September 2017

Everything is BIG in Texas

It’s been almost three weeks since we arrived back from Dallas and Austin Texas. (Yes, we certainly got out of Dodge just in time!) We are heartbroken for those in Houston who have suffered such great losses. And now the Caribbean & Florida! Many have left and others are hunkered down. We pray you will be all right!

We were in Dallas for my Youngevity’s annual convention. (I’ve been a Youngevity distributor since 2015 when Mialisia VersaStyleTM jewelry became part of YGYi.) Russ and I decided to go last-minute and sneak in a few vacation days.

By the time we made reservations, the gorgeous downtown Hyatt Regency Dallas (YGY’s convention headquarters) was fully booked, so we consulted Hotwire, took our chances and landed at the Omni Dallas Hotel for almost half-price. Not too shabby! After all, it is an Omni!

We arrived at the hotel by a shared SuperShuttle bus. (This shared shuttle was worth the savings; however, you really need to know where they pick up.) We rode into town with another YGY couple, with whom we became fast friends. We had planned to check in, leave our bags and go explore the city because it was just after 9 a.m. – too early to get into our room.

At check-in, Omni personnel told us to go have breakfast, then our room would be ready. They weren’t kidding. Our large room on the 21rst floor with two queen beds and chair & ottoman overlooked a park and you could see for miles. Everything was there – robes, hookups & desk for the computer, water bottles, mini fridge. The bathroom had a big soaker tub, makeup mirror & TV. One detractor – there was no grab bar by the tub and shower.

This Omni has a cool backstory – it is owned by the City of Dallas and managed by Omni. It was totally renovated in 2010-2013. All materials from the demolition were recycled into the walls, glass, steps, lights, brick or even art throughout the hotel. Every room has a separate heating and A/C system which turns back to average after guests leave the room. All plants are watered by recycled water from an irrigation system –a 25,000 gallon cistern. The roof has solar reflectors. In fact, the LED lighting of its exterior and all of these earth-friendly initiatives earned this hotel a LEED award for new construction.

For us, it turned out to be a great place to relax when my YGY 2017 Convention sessions & breakout classes were concluded & before touring or heading out to dinner or evening sessions.

We tried every one of the Omni restaurants:

We had a great breakfast buffet at the farm-to-table Texas Spice. The food is exceptional, fairly priced, whether for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The staff is chef accommodates special requests.

We loved the casual atmosphere of the Owner’s Box, a sports bar and would recommend their burgers, wings and salads. Service was phenomenal (Russ wore his Patriot’s hat here & loved talking sports with the Dallas Cowboy fans! We also liked playing pool here, or stopping by for a nightcap.)

We treated ourselves to a special dinner at Bob’s Steak & Chophouse, with its mouth-watering entrees, decadent desserts & impeccable service. It was a tad expensive, but what the heck, we were here where beef is king! (A perfect restaurant for a special celebration.)

I needed to get to the Hyatt early, so we often stopped at Morsels, a small coffee shop on Omni’s ground level that served a variety of pastries, sandwiches, yogurt-granola parfaits, smoothies, snacks & juice, along with Peet’s coffee, expresso & cappuccino and teas.

828 Infinity poolWant a special place for a drink or appetizer? Stop at the Omni’s Uptown Terrace (bar) which is on the 4th floor by their heated infinity pool & whirlpool that looks out over the city. This is right next to the indoor Mokara Spa and large fitness center, two places we didn’t have time to visit.

Omni desk personnel bent over backwards to accommodate any of our requests. The staff loved Russ’ tall tales and would suggest places for us to visit. We loved Scottie, one of the Omni drivers who shepherded us to the convention and places within a 2-mile radius downtown. (Russ liked him even more when Scottie showed him how to get the Uber app on his phone and use it when he was unavailable.)

When we had time, we played tourist. You can walk the downtown, but it’s unadvisable in the 95-100 degree heat. However, walking provides a better view of the many parks, sculptures and buildings up close. Dallas is an architect’s dream–you’ll see buildings of all sizes and shapes. (Just be aware for your safety –after dark, most of downtown shuts down except for out-of-towners and convention people.)

We recommend taking a trolley or downtown DART bus first to get acquainted with the city. Grab a bus schedule and you can ride most routes downtown Dallas for free. We waited for a trolley one afternoon but it was off schedule, so we tried the DART instead. There were only a few riders aboard and they exited at the next stop. (This was serendipitous because the bus driver, hearing we were from Boston, gave us his personalized tour of Dallas!)

    A Must – the Sixth Floor Museum (book factory) at Dealey Plaza where Lee Harvey Oswald allegedly shot JFK. Admission provides you with a headset so you can guide yourself through each exhibit. (For Russ and I – who lived through this time—this was reliving history. As we left, Russ concluded, “Oswald could not have been the only shooter.” )
  • Next stop – the grassy knoll – (the only place where panhandlers tried to bother us and sell us garbage. We moved out of their range.)
  • Great escape from the heat – the Dallas Aquarium which has live exhibits of many tropical birds, monkeys and animals, along with tanked sharks, sting rays and the like. Crowded with families, we were delighted by its range of fish and discoveries around every corner.
  • Dinner the first night was reconnecting with my YGY team Mialisia & friends from Canada and then meeting new ones from Saveur Spices from Australia and New Zealand at the Iron Cactus, with its mouth-watering Tex-Mex food. Holy guacamole, it was a fun evening. Thanks to Louise and George Adrian, my upline, for arranging it!

Before convention doors opened the first morning, I looked for my team again. (They were inside setting up the Mialisia part of the YGY store, but guards wouldn’t allow me in.)  

Instead I met new friends Caryl & Dan Parsons, a husband-wife YGY team. Caryl had lost more than 100 pounds and Dan lowered his blood pressure drastically on 90ForLife and YGY products. They were an amazing couple from the midwest.

When I got to the store and was helping out at the Mialisia booth, this woman (out of 2500 reps) came up to me and asked about the jewelry. I was showing her how to wear one piece and she said she would not take off one necklace because her sister had just died. It turns out that we had both lost our sisters on the same day! we became fast friends.

All of the YGY workshops and breakout sessions were so informative, you just kept going until it was break time, when I’d meet friends or Russ, then dive right back in.

At the major ballroom sessions, we’d hear about new products, new developments and get to cheer so many people who received awards.

Marilu Henner asked us to take part in her couples’ session, which we did. As a couple, Russ & I were the worst, only agreeing on three subjects! Watch for her amusing show on TV in the fall!

On to Austin. We grabbed an Uber back to Dallas Ft. Worth Airport to pick up our Hertz rental. We dialed up Suri for directions and headed south on I-35. Once out of the city limits, the speed limit goes to 75 mph. Be prepared for cars and trucks to whiz by you, even when you’re doing a cool 75-80 mph.

Our first stop – Waco – (made famous by the Fixer-Upper TV show with Chip and Joanna.) Well, we found the infamous Silos and the Magnolia store, but on Sundays, everything is closed in this southern Bible belt town – even when Baylor University students were returning to college.

  • Must –sees in Waco: Take a tour of the Baylor U campus. It is very pretty and well-groomed. And now that they have re-done McLean stadium, watch out—football is king here.
  • Try the Texas Ranger museum, next to the Visitor Center. This place will give you an idea of the rangers’ role in this part of the country.

  • Need lunch? Try the food truck village by the Brazos River and the Texan steer sculptures. Or if you’re smart, head to Cricket’s Grill & Draft House. While it is a favorite watering hole of Baylor students with its 183 on-tap beers, you can get a delicious, juicy hamburger, chicken, salad, etc. Our server Zac was eager to please.
  • Shop Magnolia, if it’s open. But for the people who love shopping, be sure to try the Spice Village. You can get lost in this store for hours. They pretty much have everything!

We arrived at our hotel a Hilton Garden Inn North Austin on the outskirts of Austin. Our room was ready and although a step down from the swanky Omni, it was super clean, quiet and offered a huge breakfast with the standard room rate. (Russ loved his Texas pancakes.) We were so tired from touring, we ordered takeout – pizza and salad from one of their vendors. Delicious! We loved it.

Must see in Austin:

  • Do take a guided tour of the overall area. That way, you can choose and pick what you want to see in depth. (There are all types of tours –foodie, music, government, art, etc. Go to the visitor center and choose one.)
  • The duck boat tour of Austin hit the right spot for us. Our Captain Bob was super funny and showed us a side of the town and its history we may have never heard ….like where Michael Dell lived, the funicular he built for his mother-in-law and the indoor water park for his kids. Capt. Bob also noted the bar that refused the Bush girls when they had fake proof. He also gave us stories on where Matthew McConaughey and Sandra Bullock lived. He noted the history of many buildings and the Capitol and where to catch some live jazz or a drink on 6th Street and not feel like we were ancient!
  • Tour the LBJ Presidential library on the University of Texas campus in Austin. The tour is comprehensive – three floors where we relived the time we lived through. It also highlighted the numerous legislation passed while LBJ was a representative, senator and president. Whew! He really accomplished so much!
  • We didn’t have time, but go to their ranch too and Lady Bird’s Park, where she established so much greenery with native plants and flowers.
  • Finally, the best meal of the whole trip was at Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill. It really hit the sweet spot after a long day of touring. We savored every bite of my skirt steak and Russ’ barbecued pork chops.
  • The chef’s secret? Marinating the meat 24 hours, steaming the meat at a very low temperature for hours and the final step, charring the outside on the grill just for a few minutes! Our dark fudge delight that we shared for dessert was devoured! We went back to the hotel satiated and determined to return to Austin…but when the weather is much cooler next time.

All in all, every part of our trip to Texas was met with friendly, helpful people who made us feel at home everywhere we went. Your face ached from smiling so much! We got back just in time before Harvey arrived. We are praying for the people there as they try to recover. It will be a long, long process.

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