Baseball and Blossoms in the Metroplex

Posted on April 14th, 2009

The baseball season threw us a curveball this year when our Cleveland Indians were scheduled to play their opening series against the Texas Rangers in Dallas. Instead of our annual family tradition of sweating through nine sweltering summer innings, we were treated to a sunny spring afternoon game from the best seats we'd ever had (20 rows behind home plate). That was the good news. Unfortunately, the Tribe lost the game, so our thrills were limited to the five home runs they crushed while attempting a dramatic comeback.
One of my favorite ballpark experiences is the feeling that comes with entering the stadium. I can't wait to take in the welcoming expanse of a crisp green field, the solid and satisfying sound of a wooden bat launching a ball into the clear blue sky, and the nostalgic sense of connection with the fans -- from the kids angling for autographs to the grandpas scribbling on scorecards. It certainly helps that the traditionally designed Ballpark at Arlington is such an enjoyable place to catch a game. Max and Daniel had so much fun, they almost forgot to fuss about the languid pace of the three-and-a-half hour contest or plead with us to purchase every edible item the vendors were hawking.

After the game, we drove one full mile to the Hilton Arlington, a highly recommended hotel at a very reasonable price -- $71 for a clean and pleasant room with two comfy double beds, climate control via thermostat, and an indoor/outdoor pool. The only drawbacks were the lack of free Wi-Fi service and an expensive (yet tasty) breakfast buffet.
The next morning, we headed west on I-30 for the quick
15-minute drive to the Fort Worth Botanical Gardens. Apparently April is prime rose-blooming season, so we were treated to thousands of sweet-smelling and vibrantly colored blossoms. What I found particularly fascinating were the ages of the rose varieties, from the teacup-sized pastel styles of the mid-1800s to the enormous multi-hued and bizarrely named modern species.

The rest of the grounds were similarly inviting, with flowing fountains, meandering pathways, and lush gardens bursting with vivid colors, nose-tickling scents, and the accompanying sounds of chirping birds and chattering kids. Incidentally, the main gardens are free of charge, but it's definitely worth plunking down the few extra dollars for the stunning and serene Japanese Garden and tropical-themed conservatory.
Also worth noting: if you're heading to or from the Metroplex via I-35 South, be sure to drop by the Czech Stop in West for a kolache or three. These traditional Eastern European pastries are a big hit with the kids, and they put Danishes to shame with their yeasty goodness and flavorful fruit and cream cheese toppings. If you're feeling especially adventurous, order one with a sausage filling and accompanying cup of bitter truck stop-style coffee.

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Vance T. Lowell - April 20th, 2009 at 4:41 PM
My dead grandma used to make the best kolachki. Cream cheese is possibly the best filling, but plum runs a close second. Eastern European pastries kick-butt! Can I get an Amen?

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