An ageing Englishman in Dallas

Old Aug 20th, 2006, 02:41 AM
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As an American living in the UK, I don't think the British drivers are all such superior beings. The news is full of accidents and traffic jams caused by bone-headed British drivers making stupid mistakes. Even in our suburban town, there are plenty of mediocre to bad drivers (many cram for the written portion of the test, an drive carefully for the driving test, then toss the rules out the windows when they get their license). Nor are American drivers all idiots...there are plenty of very good drivers in the U.S. who can easily hold their own with the Germans and Austrians, let alone the Brits.
If the OP is a good driver, he should have little problem in the U.S. It's easy to practice driving around the edges of parking lots to get the hang of things and then stick to the slower lanes until you feel comfortable.
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Old Aug 20th, 2006, 02:42 AM
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Driving an automatic is a piece of cake.It takes about 5 minutes to master it.The average American driver is much more disciplined than the average European driver.I remember driving in the former Yugoslavia and everybody agreed that it was suicide.Why you want to go to Texas is more a puzzle to me. Why not go visit some lovely places in New England.Fly to Boston-visit-drive rental car to Jackson New Hampshire and visit the surrounding White mountains.You'll feel at home.Greetings from Belgium.Paul
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Old Aug 20th, 2006, 04:16 AM
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I see I have another "why would you go to Dallas?" voice but the die has been cast and I am going to Dallas and I am sure I will enjoy it. I did ponder other destinations before I found this Dallas flight and hotel deal. I was all set for Florida until I realised it was the hurricane season and knowing my luck one would have hit whilst I was there and I wouldnt make it back to the conference in New York. I had toyed with the idea of Chicago and New England and maybe on my next business trip to the US in February I will ask for some suggestions before I decide but of course then it will be much colder.
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Old Aug 20th, 2006, 04:32 AM
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Well I feel greatly relieved you've clarified that you HAVE, in fact, driven on the right side of the road before, in Europe. In your first post when you talked about trying to master driving on the wrong side, I assumed you hadn't done it before (but wondered how you could have managed to avoid it in Europe).

I would say if you managed on the Amalfi coast, you'll do fine. Have a good time. Don't forget to buy some cowboy boots!
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Old Aug 20th, 2006, 04:34 AM
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You would have been better off going to Chicago on this trip and going to Dallas in Feb. But as you say, the die is cast. Go to Florida in Feb.!!
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Old Aug 20th, 2006, 04:39 AM
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I said US drivers are undisciplined mostly because of two things. One is that they use all lanes for travel on the freeway. You'll often see people staying in the left lane forever, going slow and not passing anybody. People who used to drive in Europe will be extremely surprised to see that.

The other is that we don't like to use the turn signals. You'll often see people turn or change lanes without using them.

As for driving skills, the truth is that Texans and most people who live in the middle of the country don't know how to take curves at speed. They slow down WAY too much because they have poor car control skills. It's the truth, and that's because we're not used to seeing them.

And while many of us drive kind of fast on the freeway - 80-90 is often seen, when the speed limit is 60-70 - few people have the skills to drive like Germans do on the autobahn.
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Old Aug 20th, 2006, 05:51 AM
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I'm curious as to where you are staying in Dallas--is it downtown? As someone else has mentioned, and I agree, driving in downtown Dallas is not easy--and I used to live there.

I have an idea which will cost you a bit more, but especially as you have other concerns about driving, I think you'll find it to be a godsend. Use Hertz for rental car (I'm not sure if others have it, but I know Hertz does) and get one of their cars with a GPS system...called Hertz Neverlost. All you need to do is plug in your starting and ending points, and a sweet voice will guide you through every turn along the route, warning you in advance when one is coming up. It will make your driving in Texas infinitely easier as all you'll have to concentrate on is keeping that left foot still. I just switched from a standard to an automatic car by the way, and there was no adjustment...it is so wonderful to be freed of the clutch!

Not to knock Texas, I live there, but I do wish you'd not worried so much about hurricane season and done FL instead. Odds of a hurricane hitting when you are there and/or where you are, are practically nil. We moved here after living 8.5 years on the FL west coast--never had a direct hit and in 8 years probably 4 close misses, 3 of them in one year. Considering hurricane season lasts 6 months out of every year, you see how minimal the risk is. OK, OK--so Sept and Oct are the busiest months. (For fun...note whether one is one the horizon for the state during the period you'll be making your trip.) Truly, planning around hurricane season isn't something I'd ever ever worry about.

As for places to go outside of Dallas, I agree with Mikemo, Glen Rose is a nice, doable day drive. Granbury is another. Hope you enjoy your stay, and be sure not to miss the 6th Floor Museum (Kennedy) in Dallas!
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Old Aug 20th, 2006, 07:27 AM
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justr1chard, let me tell you that I think it is fabulous that you decided to do something different and are going to Dallas during your visit to the US. You will be seeing a part of the US that is very different than where you live and I suspect it will be an interesting experience. Enjoy Dallas for what it is and what it has to offer and you won't regret your decision. Of course it isn't NYC or New England but that's ok! There is a lot to see in the US!

Also, don't worry about the driving part... when I was 17 I drove a car from Virginia to Dallas and didn't have any trouble at all. This would have been with less than 1 year of driving experience. If you've been driving most of your life, I'm sure you will be fine and will adjust to Dallas traffic. Every section of the US seems to have different driving patterns. Even someone living in the US would needs to adjust to driving in a different city than what they live in.

Regarding the left leg... try tucking it behind the right leg until you get used to not using it for driving. If you can do something to physcally make it difficult to slam it down on the brake then you won't have to worry about it and can relax a bit. Just maybe, you might get used to not having to use it to drive!
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Old Aug 20th, 2006, 08:36 AM
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justr1chard:

Your hire car seems to have been sorted.

For the local Dallas posters or those in the know please comment on the weather justr1chard can expect next month.

Hopefully you will report back as to how it all turned out.

Sandy
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Old Aug 20th, 2006, 10:50 AM
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As I said, the die is cast. My hotel/flight offer was for the Hyatt Regency at the airport which suited me as I have a late evening flight in on a Wednesday and an early flight out to New York on the Sunday so it means I am just a stone's throw from the airport. I have decided not to pick up the car until Tursday morning from the airport as adding darkness to driving on the wrong side of the road in an automatic after flying all day from England via New York was just one step too far. I like the idea of a GPS but never have used one. Alas as I am on my own I will just have to have the road map on the steering wheel and my left leg tucked away as I head into the city. Just make sure you keep away from me as I zigzag down the freeway with the map blown against my face ( yes I have decide to hire a convertible !)between Sept 7th and 10th
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Old Aug 20th, 2006, 11:08 AM
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I don't understand why it's an issue with your left foot. I drive both auto and manual cars regularly, and the left foot action is related to the shifting action. Since you don't have to shift, you won't be moving your left foot either. Stop worrying about it.
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Old Aug 20th, 2006, 11:16 AM
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rkkwan - he's afraid his instinct will make him want to use his left leg. He's concerned about accidentally hitting the break with his left leg since he is used to using his left leg for the clutch. Of course he will be fine, but it certainly will take him a few minutes to overcome his instinct to use the left leg.
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Old Aug 20th, 2006, 11:22 AM
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I know what he's saying. And I'm telling him that there's nothing in one's instinct will get him to use his left leg accidentally. That's because a manual driver instinctively uses the clutch only when shifting. No shifting action = no left leg action.

One other time is probably when starting the car. That's not really a problem.

Another other time is in an emergency or in a spin, when the correct thing to do is "two feet in". Well both feet on the brake pedal won't hurt in this case either.
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Old Aug 20th, 2006, 12:03 PM
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justr1chard, the GPS is practically idiot proof. They realize people probably will be experiencing a GPS or that model for the first time, so it is all very self-explanatory. We had virtually no problem at all with it "right out of the box". It leads you step by step as you set up where you want to go, while you are still stationery. You never interact with it again until you reach your destination and want to plug in a new one. You really can't mess it up and it's far easier not to have to think about anything else but driving, especially if you are driving it into downtown and there are road decisions to be made at a fairly high speed (thinking through your route from the airport to downtown).

You are wise to go for the car the next morning. That hotel is smack in the middle of the airport, easy to get there by the little train. To get any rental car, you have to go to the southern edge of the airport from the terminals, then back into the midst of it again to get to the Hyatt.

I agree with rk--your left foot isn't worth the worry. The car is working smoothly through the gears and the word shift never will even enter your mind. The only time you might be tempted would be when coming to a complete stop, but you'll be hitting the brake then anyway and the brake petal is far enough removed from where a clutch would be that it won't be an issue.
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Old Aug 21st, 2006, 05:37 AM
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If you choose Glen Rose for your country drive -- great idea -- you MUST go to Dinosaur Valley State Park on the edge of town and see the dinosaur tracks. Ask the rangers to point you to the best viewing spots. It's really interesting and also a beautiful park with a nice river.
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Old Aug 21st, 2006, 05:51 AM
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As for the weather...it should be under 100 by then. About the latest I remember it being over 100 degrees is about September 10th (but, of course, I'm sure that info is available online). It may very well be between 90 and 95 degrees during the day. Also, I hope it will have rained by then. We haven't had rain in so long, even some of the mature, native trees and bushes are dead.

I love the high school football idea...YOU WON'T BELIEVE IT! You'd probably enjoy a Southlake or Highland Park game (both state champions last year in different divisions). Let us know where you're staying and if you'll be here on a Friday night, and we'll find you a game.

Also, if you're spiritually adventurous and will be around on a Sunday, you might want to visit one of the mega-Baptist churches, like Prestonwood Baptist-I can pretty much guaranty that they don't have such a place in all of England.

Grapevine (between Dallas and Ft. Worth) has a historic downtown. Also, west of Ft. Worth is Weatherford, which has a "typical" town square and a couple of restaurants that serve "home cookin'" type of food.
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Old Aug 21st, 2006, 05:51 AM
  #37  
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Have a great time, justr.

Have none of the naysayers driven in the UK? We were in Ireland 2 years ago, got a rental out of the airport & brought it back 900 miles later. Very narrow roads, also some high speed, all on the "wrong" side; and oftentimes sharing the road with a herd of cows!
 
Old Aug 21st, 2006, 05:56 AM
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Good for you! Have a great time. I think the biggest "wow" for you will be the "wide open spaces" and the BIG sky! You are in a convertible with no need to be anywhere at any time. Get out in the countryside and just drive! You'll enjoy the scenery as much as we enjoy it when we come to the UK.

Eat some chicken fried steak or chicken.
Friday night high school football game would be a blast.
A Sunday Baptist church service would be something you would never forget!

Have a wonderful time!
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Old Aug 23rd, 2006, 07:05 AM
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Try not to worry about the traffic and have fun! I'll put another good word in for Glen Rose, though. And if you're not an avid sunworshiper, you might want to stop by a grocery store or pharmacy & get a bottle of sunblock if you plan on driving a convertible with the top down.
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