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Monday, March 21, 2011


Despite the fact that I no longer make the majority of my living as a writer, inside me lurks the heart of a reporter and the soul of a writer.

Maybe that's why every now and then I'm struck with a need to explore. Whether it's stopping on a whim at a historic marker or simply searhing who such and such person is, or was, to have a park or highway or building named after them.

Driving back to Dallas recently after a particularly long and not-so-fruitful day of business meetings in Waco, I glanced over and noticed a building that looks like a flying saucer followed only a half-mile away by a neighborhood of domed buildings that look more like igloos in Alaska than a house in Texas.

I drove on and at the next exit, got off the highway and turned back. Some things need exploring.

My explorations have taken me interesting places. I've loved the quirky Wall Drug in South Dakota; scoured the shelfs of a country store in Missouri then gone to the counter for a bologna sandwich wrapped in paper that tasted like a gourmet meal when eaten on the front porch sitting in a rocking chair. I've run through the jungle with U.S. Marines in Okinawa, watched baby sea turtles hatch under the light of a full moon on the beach, spent the night in a converted school house in Missouri, and sat around a campfire with civil war re-enacters in Virginia. I'm not discovering new worlds, but each exploration has a story and for a writer - a story stretches the imagination and feeds the soul.

So I drove back and took the exit to Italy, Texas off Interstate 35 between Waco and Waxahachie. I found a safe spot to pull off and took some photos of the "flying saucer," which I've since learned is a monolithic dome. Dubbed "Starship Pegasus" by its original owner in 2005 and operated as a family arcade, the dome is now a private residence. Curious, I thought and drove further down to learn about the igloo community. I stopped when I saw a sign on a few small domes that said "open." They were models open for viewing. The rental office -- a much larger dome -- sits across the street.

This was supposed to be the wave of the future -- 30 years ago. The domes are made of concrete with a polyurethane insulation sprayed on the outside. It is hailed as a "green" alternative by the company owners who say it uses less energy to heat and cool. The homes in the area varied from a large "home" of many domes constructed in a Spanish stucco style. Another was a fairly large dome and boasted a large front porch, a dome patio and dome storage unit, along with a three-vehicle carport. Most though were the studio or one-bedroom models that in reality were a little too small for me. My favorite was the grain storage grouping painted to look like a caterpillar. Domes can certainly be fun.

I got back in my car with a little more knowledge and something to think about beside the stress of a long day at work. I likely will never live in a monolithic dome, but if I ever see one in another part of the world, I'll know it's not an igloo.

I might feel an urge to explore on my next road trip across Texas. I'll let you know what I learn.

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