State #35 Texas (Part 1)

You got to love Texas.

They just have an attitude of I’ll do it my way. For example, where other states would use a stop light, they have lots of stop signs. We also drove down several highways with 70 mph and some 80 mph speed limits; not interstates or other limited access roads, but regular old four lane and two lane highways.

Anyway, our first stop was Houston. It was pretty much a straight shot out I-10 from New Orleans. We spent a couple nights there but didn’t do much since Mason wasn’t feeling well. Poor little guy slept most of the morning car ride. He doesn’t usually get sick so when he says he doesn’t feel well, you know something’s up.

Luckily, we booked our stay at the Comfort Suites off Beltway 8. It was wonderful. We like the suites because it gives us that little couch area which allows for more space. That helps so you’re not eating on you bed. It’s only about three years old and very clean and the customer service was amazing.

When we got there we had a lot of laundry that needed to be done since we had been on a boat for the past week. The front desk informed us that something had just happened to the guest laundry washing machine (a guest’s wet laundry was in there at that moment). She immediately looked up the name and address of the nearest, cleanest laundromat. Later Trevor met the manager and he offered us the use of the hotel’s laundry facilities. That was great. Now we didn’t have to leave the hotel and those machines were huge and free.

The next night the hotel had grapes, cheese, red velvet cupcakes, and sodas set out for the guest in the evening. I wasn’t sure if it was special for the Super Bowl or what but it was pretty sweet. Did I mention how clean it was?!?! And get this – it was only $65 a night on the weekend! I would 100% recommend this hotel!

Our next stop was College Station to visit the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum.

Pretty cool museum.

His career was impressive. He was one of the youngest Navy pilots, his plane went down in the Pacific Ocean and he was rescued,

returned home, went to Yale, was captain of the baseball team, married Barbara, moved to Texas to work for an oil company, had five children, (sweet Robin passed away from leukemia at three and half years old), started his own oil company, split that off into an off shore oil company, ran for Senate lost by only a little over a thousand votes, ran for the House and won, gave up his House seat to run for Senate again and lost, was appointed as a UN Ambassador by President Nixon, RNC Chair, then as 2nd Chief Liaison to China, then he was appointed the CIA Director, became Vice President, then President,

and was father to a future president and a governor. All that and I’m sure I missed something.

He passed away in November 2018 at age 94. Holy smokes! That’s a long and impressive life.

This portrait of him and W is one of my favorite portraits in the whole museum. There was just something sweet about it. Maybe it made me miss my dad, I don’t know, but I just kept staring at it. The picture on the left is my kiddo sitting behind the president’s desk in the replicia of the Oval Office. Who knows, maybe one day?

We continued a little bit further north to Waco. This is as far north as we’re going in Texas. I used to live in southern Oklahoma and Trev used to have a lot of conferences in Dallas so we will be heading south and west after this to see some different parts of Texas.

We visited Cameron Park. If you’re in Waco and the weather’s nice I would totally recommend an outing.

There are playgrounds, disk golf, and lots of trails. We enjoyed walking the trails but the signage and trail markers aren’t great so if you don’t have a good sense of direction I would download the app so you don’t get lost.

If you’re able the climb the stairs, I’d also recommend walking up Jacob’s Ladder. The steps are steep and unevenly spaced making for a fun and quirky climb to the top.

At the top is the clubhouse and another playground. We stopped and let the boys (all three of them) play. They like to make up obstacle courses and time each other.

We worked up an appetite and headed over to Ninfas Mexican Restaurant. It was mentioned in numerous blogs I read so we thought we would give it a go. The staff was really sweet and the jalapeño, tomatillo sauce they served along side the salsa was pretty good. However, after eating there, I’m guessing it’s convenient location downtown in the Silo District with plenty of public parking was the main reason it was mentioned and not its food.

After lunch we walked across the Waco Suspension Bridge which was built in 1870 and is listed on the National Register of Historic places.

And then we snapped some pictures at the Branding the Brazso statue. This statue costs $1.65 million dollars (largely funded by a local businessman) and took eight years to complete. The statue pays homage to Waco’s days as being a stop on the Chisholm Trail’s cattle drives back in the 1800s. It is comprised of three cowboys (one white, one black, and one Hispanic) driving 25 heads of cattle.

Then we ended the afternoon with a stop at PokeyOs ice cream food truck for an ice cream sandwich. I ordered butterfinger ice cream with chocolate chip cookies and the boys had birthday cake ice cream with snickerdoodle for Mason and chocolate chip for Tuck. This time my research did not disappoint. Yummy!

The next day we made our way over to Magnolia, of Chip and Joanna Gaines/Fixer Upper Fame. Interior design fascinates and frustrates me. I have the hardest time seeing all the pieces put together. I lack the vision but love the final product. Magnolia Market was neat because there’s a lot happening on that block. There’s the market that sells the interior decorating goodies and marketing merchandise.

Then there’s the bakery. We didn’t try anything as we had just eaten before stopping. Rookie mistake. It smelled delicious.

Then there’s this green space where you can just hang out. There’s some balls to play with and some bean bags to chill on. They have a variety of food trucks right on the property. I knew there were food trucks nearby. I just didn’t realize they were right there. If we had to do it all over again we would have just had lunch at the food trucks and then dessert at the bakery. Oh well. Next time, maybe.

For the garden lovers, there’s also a cute little seed store.

Just as a side note, there is free parking downtown except for four lots surrounding a church. Those are pay lots. We found a spot on the road to park that split the difference between Magnolia and our next stop.

When I found out Waco had a Dr. Pepper Museum I knew I had to check it out. I don’t drink soda except for Dr. Pepper (or Mr. Pibb if they don’t have Dr. Pepper). No Coke, no Pepsi, no nothing else.

When you think Dr. Pepper Museum don’t think a big place like World of Coke in Atlanta, GA. The Dr. Pepper Museum is not corporately owned. It is ran by a small nonprofit. That being said, it was an interesting museum. It actually talks about the history of soda not just Dr. Pepper and it promotes Free Enterprise in Business.

There are some hands on exhibits and our favorite was the Liquid Lab. We had a little science lesson on the body’s sense of taste and smell. Pretty cool learning experience while not realizing you’re learning. As a homeschool mom this year, moments like those rock.

In the end you get a little cup of Dr. Pepper prepared by a soda jerk at the soda fountain to wet your whistle.

The next morning we woke up to snow?!?! Kind of crazy but it melted fast. It didn’t slow us down any.

We started the morning waiting in line at a book signing. The boys found a good reading spot while I was able to meet one of my favorite Bible study authors, Beth Moore. She was so friendly and personable. Just like I thought. I was geeking out a little. So cool.

Next up was the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame and Museum. There was all kinds of information in this museum. The history of the Rangers is fascinating. The video is definitely worth watching.

I am going to say this museum probably appeals to certain people and not others. Although Tuck wasn’t really into the museum part, he did enjoy the dress up clothes and guns.

From Waco we headed towards Austin. We were going to take the boys to see the bats fly out from under Congress Ave Bridge. When we saw them a few years ago, it was really cool and I knew the boys would enjoy it. I was excited to share that with them. However, funny thing, I didn’t realize bats migrated south for weather. So no bats. Bummer. Oh well, we still had as couple other places to take them.

One was the Hamilton Pool Preserve. This place is beautiful. There is usually a reservation system, as they only allow a limited number of visitors at a time on the trail. However, we went during the week so we didn’t need a reservation. Be sure and check their website before you drive out there. There is a per vehicle fee. I think we paid $10 or $15. Sorry, I can’t remember the exact amount.

The pool with it’s 50 foot waterfall is actually a collapsed grotto. It is such a cool place as you can walk all the way around. Now granted, when we showed up it wasn’t the wet season so the normally beautiful waterfall was all but a trickle but it was still an amazing stop.

Here’s what the waterfall looked like last time we were there.

Lots of people just walk out to the pool and back. But don’t miss the Pedenarles River trail. It’s a mile and a half round trip hike that leads you down to the river. The weather was great and the boys had a great time wading around, skipping rock, and chilling. We all loved this area.

With all that hiking, we worked up an appetite and we knew exactly where to go.

About thirty-five minutes south, in Driftwood, Texas at the Salt Lick BBQ is some of the best brisket and sausage you can eat. This Georgian may disagree with Texans on how to make baked beans and potato salad (theirs is more mustardy less sweet) and coleslaw (theirs is vinegary as opposed to mayo-ie), but we both agree on how delicious smoked meat should taste. So so so good! Tuck even liked the chicken.

We kept heading south to New Braunfels for a pit stop at Buc-ees. Buc-ees is a Texas convenience store chain, however this location, boosts being the world’s largest convenience store. There were 120 gas pumps and 67,000 square feet of retail space. And my favorite feature, they pride themselves on extra clean bathrooms. It was impressive.

We don’t usually stop and buy snacks at convenience stores but how could we not this time. When the guy rang up our total, Tuck turns and looks at us and goes, “$18! That blows our snack budget.” Hahaha. With snacks in hand, we continued south to San Antonio.

Of course, we had to see the Alamo. We walked from our hotel downtown. While out walking we saw the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile and had to get our pic with it. (Afterwards we had lunch on the road at Whataburger. It was a first for the boys. It’s the small things. This pic is out of order as it happened AFTER the Alamo but I didn’t want to redo the collage. Sorry.)

We decided not to get the guide for the Alamo. Tuck and I were bummed but Trev didn’t really see the point. They are renovating the Long Barracks so we couldn’t go inside there. We were able to go into the church (which is also getting some restoration work done) but you’re not allowed to take pictures inside. So he was probably right in skipping the audio tour this time. We watched the video which was pretty good. It also tied together with the Texas Rangers so its great for the boys to see how history is all connected.

After the Alamo, we had a long drive to a little town in order to visit one of the National Park Service’s most remote and least visited parks.

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