Downtown Dallas was one of the first places I photographed. First I drove around Reunion Tower, because this is the icon most people think of when they picture the Dallas skyline. I thought it would be cool to have a picture of the tower in my rear view view, as a symbol of my departure from this great city.
Of course I had to wonder around Deep Ellum and take photos of all the amazing graffiti that remains in this amazing place. This has to be one of my favorite places in Dallas, and I probably would have ended up buying a place in Deep Ellum if I hadn't decided to move to Tronto. Deep Ellum has just about everything you could want, all in one place. There are several places to live among the restaurants, live music venues, and great art. I think Deep Ellum would be a great place to invest a little money too. A DART rail station is opening next year near a great new apartment building. There are many retail buildings for sale, and Deep Ellum is one of the few places that allows dual zoning for residential and business. This dual zoning allows you to live in a building and also have your office or business in the same space. There is lots of speculation about what will happen to Deep Ellum in the coming years, but investing here would probably be a safe bet. There is just something great about having places like All Good Cafe, Adair's Saloon, and Deep Sushi all within walking distance.
I have also been thinking about some of the silly things I will miss about living in the US. In Texas we have the right to have and conceal handguns. I rarely ever carry my gun with me, but I enjoy the freedom to keep loaded handguns hidden around the house. I may never come face to face with an intruder in my house, but I love to know I could protect myself if I ever had to. I also love my freedom to take my loaded handgun with me when I go to places where I feel that my safety could be at risk. I would never go without my gun to the badlands of West Texas down along the Mexico border. I spent many nights enjoying beautiful meteor showers in the dark desert nights. I always knew I was at risk of wandering into the path of smugglers or human trafficking. But I felt safer with a loaded handgun nearby. Even though I rarely carry a gun with me, it gives me a little peace of mind knowing that half of the people around me do have a gun. Call me crazy, but I like to know that somebody has a good chance of getting shot if they were to try to rob or assault me in a public place. Fortunately, Toronto is one of the safest large cities in North America. They also have ways to join a gun club and enjoy a little target shooting. So I am not going to miss my gun rights too much.
Mom and Dad always used to say, "Don't smoke, don't drink, don't chew, and don't go with the girls who do." Being the rebellious type, I tried the smoking and drinking and grew quite fond of beer, wine and cocktails, and I love an occasional cigar. We have our screwy liquor laws in the states, but at least we have a variety of liquor stores to choose from, and there is a tremendous variety of selection and prices. In most Canadian provinces, there is strict government control on the sale of alcoholic beverages. In Toronto I will have to buy all of my booze from the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) stores. The LCBO chooses which products to import and how much they cost. There is no competition, and I won't be able to "shop around" for better prices or better selection. I will have no other choice unless I cross the border.
Cigars, wine and alcohol are some of the things I will probably have to leave behind when I drive off to Toronto. I have to choose only one of the following alcoholic beverages: 1.5 liters of wine, 1.14 liters of liquor, or 24 12oz cans or bottles of beer. I can only bring 50 cigars or 200 cigarettes. I think I might be able to bring a few of my favorite wines with me, but I would have to pay a hefty tax when I cross the border. I may have to store a case of wine at a friend's house, and bring 1.5 liters of wine home with me every time I visit the states and return to Toronto. When I want to try a new wine, I will have to choose from the section offered by the LCBO. There will be no point in driving to a different liquor store in Toronto, because they will all be operated by the LCBO, and they will likely all have the same selection and the same prices. Fortunately, it's not all bad news, and there are some advantages to the LCBO. I will write about these advantages in a future blog post dedicated to the LCBO. The other great news is that Canada allows Cuban cigars! Canada is not stupid enough to have an embargo against Cuba. In fact, I look forward to a vacation to Cuba some day after I get my Canadian passport.
I have also been eating a lot of TexMex and steak and drinking a lot of Shiner Bock lately. Texas has a wonderful style of food that combines the best of Texas and Mexican cuisinem abd of course Texas has the best steaks in the world. We have tons of TexMex and steak restaurants all over the DFW area. So, I have literally been eating TexMex about 10 times a week, and I have been eating at least one steak per week as well. Once I get to Toronto, I will begin my quest for the best Mexican food in the area. Ontario beef is really lousy, but they do have some good beef in Alberta. Some restaurants in the Toronto area offer steaks from Alberta. So, it may not be the best beef in the world, but at least it is tolerable. I will certainly miss the choice of hundreds of TexMex and steak restaurants in DFW. When I order a beer, I usually make it a Shiner Bock. Shiner beers are not the best in the world, but they are only available in Texas. So, I figured I might as well drink a few while I still have the chance.
So, to wrap up this blog post, may I offer a toast to the freedom of choice to drink almost any alcoholic beverage you want, and the best TexMex and steaks in the world! These are some of my Texas freedoms I will miss the most!