What? You were expecting pelicans, egrets and flamingos? Not here, on this 8,000-acre manmade lake whose wavelets lap the shores a few miles from the Dallas-Fort Worth airport.
Whoa, there’s a United.
No matter how hard you kick and scream, you’ll eventually have to go outdoors and into the giant fire pit called Texas Summer, y’all. Maybe it will be a quick sprint to your rental car, where the air-conditioning is set on full blast. Or perhaps it’ll be to actually embrace the scorching heat, then spite it by jumping into a cool body of water.
“Staying wet during the summer in Texas,” says Laura Huffman, state director of the Nature Conservancy, “is equivalent to staying happy.”
And oh, how merry it is, because the Lone Star State is not a hard, dry cracker. Texas is big on water, with about 150,000 miles of rivers and streams. (Note: More than 80 percent of the state is suffering from severe drought, although Dallas-Fort Worth has received more rain than other areas.) For an additional splash, engineers have impounded the water to create a surprisingly refreshing and expansive land o’ lakes. More than seven lakes ring the sibling cities of Dallas and Fort Worth.
Texas has only one natural lake, and it’s nowhere near Dallas-Fort Worth. The protozoan-shaped blue patches on my metro map are spring-fed (one) or dammed rivers and creeks that often lead double lives as recreation areas and drinking sources. In many cases here, you swim in what you drink. But I wouldn’t advise opening your mouth between strokes for a cupless quaff. You might swallow a bird feather or a beaver.
The worst thing I ingested during my three-lake hop last week, though, was a pickle-flavored snow cone at Burger’s Lake, a spring-fed pool about 30 miles west of Fort Worth. My excuse: I was trying to partake of Texas summer culture. Next time, I’ll just copy the other kids in line and order Tiger’s Blood.
My salty mistake, fortunately, didn’t linger long: I rinsed it out with a swig of spring water spewing from the smokestack of a toy boat, part of a new children’s area surrounding the lake. Then I swam it off.
The one-acre lake, open to the public and family-run since 1929, is a liquid playground for hyperactive recreationists. You can dive from one of five boards, adjusted to varying levels of acrophobia. Or swing from a bar as if you were in a regional production of Cirque du Soleil’s “O.” There are also three giant slides, as well as fountains spurting more spring water, so you can feel as if you’re swimming in the rain, or under the Trevi Fountain, or in the path of a garden hose. Or you can just sit on one of two sandy beaches and watch the action.
“It’s easy going right now,” said lifeguard Jacob Salazar, who then leapt into action when a woman started flapping around near the swing.