Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – Letters from America 1985-1987 – Adventures in the USA – Dallas, A Texas Menace and Realtors by Sally Cronin

Somebody recently asked if I was going to repeat the series of Letters from America as they had missed many of the earlier ones. I then realised that it was two years since the first post went out and there are some newer readers to the blog who might be interested in reading.

Last week I shared our experiences as we arrived in Houston in the first week of February and faced the challenges of driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road, extra large portions in restaurants and the search for a more permanent place to live.

This week a road trip, an interesting encounter with a Texas menace and our first experience of realtors.

Our snowy front garden and house that we left in Tring Hertfordshire in January 1985

Dear M & D.

Received your letter and the big packet yesterday thank you, and mail seems to be taking about ten days to come through which is pretty standard. In the apartment complex there are mail boxes and you collect your post from there. Makes sense other wise the mailman would be traipsing all over the place for hours delivering the post.

The weather here is quite warm considering it is only February, but at least it is not yet as humid as they promised for later in the year. Certainly a big difference from the snowy weather we left in Tring only two weeks ago.

We drove to Dallas yesterday which is why this is written on a Holiday Inn letterhead. We shared the driving and I must say the freeway system is pretty efficient. Of course the speed limit is only 55 mph, which is a bit slower than we are used to. However, most of the cars and pickup trucks seem to be doing between 60 and 65. Being a little bit wary of how the system works at the moment we are sticking firmly to the speed limit. I am very impressed with the hire car which is the first automatic that I have driven. It has a very neat feature which is called cruise control.

When you are on the freeway, which is straight and hundreds of miles long, you can set your speed, such as 55 and then press a button and it will automatically stay at that speed unless you touch the brake or accelerator. So you can take your feet of the pedals, and just steer. I don’t think it would be as useful in the UK, as the motorways are so busy you would be forever hitting the brakes. Anyway here it is fantastic.

We are staying north of Dallas so had to come through the city itself. It was dark and all the tower blocks were lit up which was an incredible sight. David was driving and I navigated and it was quite hairy as you are not allowed to go LESS than 45 mph and it was very busy. Cars came in from both sides and there doesn’t seem to be any rules about lanes, so they weave in and out including enormous trucks. It was like being on a fairground roller coaster. Added to the fact that it was dark and I was trying to read the map to find our exit and the hotel, we arrived stressed and in need of a drink.

David has a meeting this morning and then we hope to drive back to Houston in daylight around 3.00 this afternoon. At least I have seen the famous Dallas and although we have not got time this trip, next time we plan to visit Southfork.. I will say hello to J.R. Mollie for you!

Amazing last night to find our waitress was English and came from only 20 miles from Tring in St. Albans.. talk about a small world. She and her husband have been here two years and love it.

We have settled into our executive apartment but are planning to move out in the next month. It is very comfortable and the complex team are very helpful. However, I might have given them something to laugh about.

David was a way for the night last week and it was only our second night in the apartment. I got ready for bed and turned down the covers and just as I was about to climb in, I saw a movement on the beige carpet out of the corner of my eye. I leapt onto the bed and moved across to get a better look. It was the largest cockroach I have ever seen….and then I saw another even bigger… it was huge with great long antenna. There was no way I was spending the night in the bedroom with them and so shut the door and slept on the couch in the living room.

The next morning I popped into the office and mentioned that we seemed to have an infestation of these creatures and they laughed their heads off, especially when I said that I had seen two of them. They said that the whole complex was due to have exterminators in during the week and gave me three small cardboard boxes called Roach Motels. They told me to put a couple under the beds and one in the kitchen under the sink.

Apparently these things live in the walls everywhere and usually disappear when the lights go on. This is not a comforting thought and I am not sure that I will be sleeping well for some time.  I shall be checking out our permanent place a little more thoroughly and certainly checking to see how regularly they exterminate the apartments!

We spent last weekend looking at houses, we don’t want a garden particularly so going for what they call town homes. Although they only have two bedrooms they are ensuite with an extra half bathroom (shower and loo) downstairs for visitors. What is amazing is the kitchen and laundry equipment. Huge ovens and grills and laundromat size washing machines and tumble dryers. Puts my pressure washer and spindryer to shame. Everywhere is certainly very well equipped.

David is going to Kansas on Thursday and Friday so I am going house hunting on my own. The realtors are very good and pick you up, take you around the house and bring you back. You have to read between the lines as they enthuse about everything and it is very easy to get carried along with them. They have an entirely different attitude to business here, you can almost see the dollar signs, neon lit in their eyes when you mention it is a company let. However, I like them, they have an open curiosity which is refreshing. As soon as they hear your accent they are want to know all about England and London.

We are going to have to take a driving test in the next two weeks. Otherwise we cannot be insured on the new car that we have yet to buy. There is certainly a massive selection as there is in everything here in the US. I could certainly spend a fortune without any problem.

Will come back to you next week, after I have entered my 33rd year. Take care and all our love. David and Sally.

© sallycronin 2018

I hope you will drop in next week for the first of one of my articles that I wrote about special events.. the first is on the subject of our driving tests…….I would love your feedback as always. Thanks Sally

23 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – Letters from America 1985-1987 – Adventures in the USA – Dallas, A Texas Menace and Realtors by Sally Cronin

      • We’re okay but my sister (asthma and works in social care) has been sent home for 12 weeks of self-isolation. Just back from my essential food shop. Apart from butchers, bakers and supermarkets everything is closed in the town, which feels strange. People ensuring they keep a safe distance from each other – except in aisle one in the supermarket where the staff were stocking shelves with meat. How is it with you?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Being fairly rural it is easier to find times to shop quietly. All businesses shut now unless essential so even quieter today. I do feel sorry for the small business owners as they are heavily reliant on the holiday park visitors from Easter to September but of course there is nothing to do here now,especially if the weather not good. No point being in a confined trailer with children when you can be at home and have some space. For us it is a blessing as not sure the infrastructure could cope with an additional 20,000 in the area for an extended period. The major cities, particularly Dublin are the hardest hit. My two sisters and my brother are in Portsmouth and will be on lock down now.. it is crazy.. xx

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I grew up in Texas and spent 10 years in Houston, so I was used to seeing cockroaches and killing them. Had to laugh when I heard about your encounter. My husband, who grew up in California, freaks out when he sees a cockroach and has to call on me to get rid of it. (We see a few in Georgia, where we live now.)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on Campbells World and commented:
    Wonderful! Love reading this.
    Makes me want to visit England. Would love to see the differences between our United States and your United Kingdom. A bucket list. My bucket seems to have a hole in it. So I will enjoy reading about all of your adventures instead.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I had to laugh when I read about your experience driving through Dallas, Sally. I was there several months ago and it seems nothing has changed!

    It’s strange to think that cruise control was new back then, too. I don’t know what I would do without it!

    Love these stories. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Weekly Round Up – 22nd – 28th March 2020 | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

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