Let’s talk about Texas, shall we? As you (hopefully) know by this point, my parents moved to Waco, Texas at the end of June. I was nervous for my first visit. I hadn’t exactly heard rave reviews about the place. I couldn’t even really find much in the way of online reviews of things to do there. Evidently, Yelp hasn’t quite hit the Baylor community. We’ll have to work on that.
Life Tip #22: If you get something out of online reviews, give something back to them too. Don’t be selfish.
After a too short three hour flight with some of the best seatmate strangers of my life, I touched down in Dallas. My dad had made the hour and a half drive from Waco to surprise me with my beloved Chihuahua, Barkles. So far, off to a great start
You know the expression, “Everything’s bigger in Texas”? I believe that begins with the sky. That was the first thing I noticed. It’s big and vast and beautiful. No mountains, no skyscrapers getting in the way. The second thing I noticed was the greenery. Coming from a drought-ridden California, I felt an odd sense of giddiness at seeing genuinely healthy green fields and trees. It had been too long.
The trip was dedicated to showing me all that Waco had to offer, which was a lot more than I had anticipated.
Wine in hand, we enjoyed evening walks with Barkles under the shade of beautiful oak and pecan trees and around their brick home laden neighborhood. We went bass fishing at dawn on Waco Lake.
We bar-hopped until we found the Perfect Watering Hole, meeting the requirements of its recipe: cheap drinks, a welcoming bartender, solid regulars, a good jukebox, and sufficient TVs to enjoy a game or two. Crying Shame, if you’re curious. We visited the Silos, because Fixer Upper. We explored the absolutely beautiful Cameron Park. We tried to find a good gym, which proved to be a great challenge (old machines, not enough machines, overall expense, weird vibes… Maybe it’s just a matter of getting used to something different).
I visited my mom’s high school, where she teaches biology to freshmen. The school looked like something out of High School Musical or Glee. It was massive, new, and colorful. Evidently, this is common in states outside of California. Maybe that has something to do with the indoor element.
We attended the Margarita and Salsa Festival, which turned out to only offer one crap type of chip and salsa and too sweet, cheap (but expensive) frozen margaritas. A sprawling expanse of lawn chairs, cowboy boots, and honest to God accents were the perfect backdrop to the wonderful music. As a country music fan, I was looking forward to seeing Eli Young Band, but the greatest surprise was the Turnpike Troubadours. If you have a chance to see them live, please do.
We indulged in too much food because everything’s bigger turns out to include grocery stores and portion sizes – burgers at the Twisted Root, steak and eggs at Harold Waite Pancake and Steak, Cajun at Buzzard Billy’s, BBQ at Vitek, and everything at George’s. As a Californian, the biggest disappointment turned out to be Tex-Mex. I assume that’s a simple result of my being spoiled by the best Mexican food in the country. I tried to like it, and that’s all I can say about that.
I loved Waco. I really did. Even though that was my first visit to that small, country town, it felt like going home, which I think I needed.
I’m originally from the City of Orange, which is (traffic-permitting), a mere hour and 20 away. I’ve only been back once since my parents moved, and the experience was… odd. It didn’t feel like home anymore. Despite my history with that town and all of the people in it (friends, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins), something was off. Going to Waco showed me what that was.
Life Tip #23: Home isn’t a place. Home is people (and pets). Just remember that.
Of course, coming home to Dave’s anxious, handsome face at the San Diego airport wasn’t so bad 😉