Making it to Texas felt like a milestone for us all. In Texas we would hit one month on the road. In Texas we would be halfway across the United States. In Texas we would see best friends we haven’t seen in 9 months (although that stop was near the end of our time in this big state and the wait was brutal!).
Up first on our mini tour of Texas:
We rolled into Texas around the same time as massive rain storms did. And when I say massive, I mean massive.
This born-and-raised Seattle family knows a thing or two about rain; this rain was completely different. The clouds crept in and then wham! they opened up and spilled the thickest rain that turned roads into instant rivers. Lightening struck, thunder clapped, windshield wipers did nothing to clear the water. Then suddenly, the storm ended, the sun came out and it was business as usual. So strange. And exciting. And it kind of messed up our Dallas/Fort Worth plans.
Like the Fort Worth Stock Yards. Each day, there is a real life cattle drive down the main street that we were looking forward to seeing. We may have farms in the Pacific Northwest, but we had never seen a longhorn.
We took a walk through a few cowboy shops, said hello to horses and when we found out the cattle drive was canceled due to impending rain, we jumped in the car to head to dinner instead. Good thing, because about 30 seconds later, that sky broke open into a crazy storm.
Our day was saved when we walked into a restaurant my foodie friend suggested and we had one of the best meals of the trip (or maybe ever?!).
The restaurant, called Woodshed Smokehouse, is near the river in Fort Worth in a cool warehouse-y building with a super nice waitstaff, great atmosphere and a seriously delicious menu. A good pulled pork sandwich can cheer me up any day.
When we got back to our RV site, the rain picked back up and we decided to hit the road and stay the night in Waco instead. This is the first time we’ve strayed from our plan and it felt sort of thrilling to just switch things up. We found a cute little family-run RV campground that took us in and we avoided a night of soggy rain.
Waco, of course, was on our itinerary because of Chip + Joanna Gaines and their Magnolia Market. Our kids (and us, too) are big fans of their show, Fixer Upper, and we were excited to see where it all happens.
Additionally, my best friend growing up – who also happens to be named Joanna – is the one who makes the Market look pretty everyday and I was excited to visit her at the shop.
(Joanna posted a nearly 30 year old photo of the two of us a few days before we arrived. It made me cry! See it here).
So let’s talk about Magnolia Market + The Silos, shall we? I know I mentioned it a little bit in Coffee Chat Episode 6 (see that here), but I’ll do a recap here, too.
The Gaines’ have turned this old commercial site into a beautiful, family friendly destination. Their vision and execution are really quite remarkable. The Silo property houses their market, a garden shop, a huge turf ‘yard’ with swings and lawn games, food trucks and rows of picnic tables. The bakery, Magnolia Flour, should be opening up any day. We peeked in the windows of the bakery and it looks like it is going to be adorable!
So we got to the Silos, not really sure what to expect and when we walked in to the Market, we were shocked.
IT WAS A ZOO. There were people everywhere. And apparently we were there on a slow day. It wasn’t terrible – the store was full of friendly staff and plenty of inventory and pretty displays everywhere you looked – I was just surprised by the number of people in the store at eleven o’clock in the morning on a random Wednesday.
Note: All of the photos of the shop were taken later in the day when the store was much less crowded and I waited like a crazy lady with my camera ready the second the shot was clear of people. Don’t be fooled :)
We met up with my Joanna and she showed us around the shop, led us through the stocking room where there were at least 25 people back there folding tshirts, opening new shipments, tagging items, and then walked us around outside on the grounds.
Just when we were about to walk down the block to another little shop, the sky opened up. Magnolia handed out ponchos, which the kids thoroughly enjoyed and we stood under cover to wait for the rain to pass. Actually, let me clarify: Ryan and I stood under cover while the kids ran around on the lawn getting soaked.
When it looked like the rain was letting up, we took off on the walk one block up the street.
You guys. I don’t know if I’ve ever laughed so hard. The rain started up again and it was like that big bucket at the waterpark that dumps every few minutes just came splashing down right on us. The best part was it was warm outside! So different than our cold, drizzly Seattle rain. We embraced it, ran back to our trailer parked down the road and stripped off our soaked clothes. Never have we been so thankful to have a portable home.
Once the rain was gone for good, we noticed this iron working shop nearby and poked our heads in just to see what it was all about. Sure enough, we started chatting with the owner who then proceeded to teach our Brady how to make a copper bracelet. This was one of our favorite memories so far – talking with a local who is doing what he is passionate about and was so friendly. It made us hunger for more stories and conversations with the people who make up these big cities we’re visiting. Such a cool experience for us all.
After the iron shop, we made a few more stops around Waco.
This shop is down the street from Magnolia and filled with a great assortment of home goods and clothing. We grabbed iced coffees from Common Grounds and the kids had fancy ice cream next door from Heritage Creamery and we were all quite happy.
From Waco, we drove south to the outskirts of Austin through the most scenic country roads.
While in Austin, we stayed with new friends who own and run the coolest retreat property called Green Acres.
We’ve been very satisfied with our camping experiences, but this was such a welcome change of pace to stay at such a unique and inspiring piece of property.
I first heard about Green Acres from my favorite podcast when Kirsten (the owner) was a guest. The story of how they came to own and run this property is fun and it really sparked something in me and Ryan. They have two yurts that are glamorously decorated, a bathhouse with a super nice shower and an old barn with a full outdoor kitchen.
We stayed in our trailer, but guests can rent the yurt and have full use of the property. We spent one night around the campfire with Brandon +Kirsten hearing more about their story and what they do and those few hours were another big highlight of our trip.
Kirsten is the owner of Raven + Lily – and ethical fashion and lifestyle brand dedicated to empowering women through design. Their line of leather bags, jewelry, clothing and homegoods are right up my neutral-loving alley. We stopped in to their new storefront (gorgeous!) at The Domain to see it all in person. The poor kids had to spend way longer in one store than they would ever wish, but I couldn’t help myself from enjoying every inch of the store.
Also while in Austin, but not pictured: my friend Wynne came to visit with her cutie pie daughter (see Audrey and Asher here) and I ate the best burger of my life from Hopdoddy Burger Bar. It was actually a black bean + corn cake and I would eat it everyday if I could.
We hung out on South Congress for the afternoon, had dinner with friends and retired back at Green Acres where we fed the donkeys and alpacas and weathered another rainstorm.
The big day of surprising our besties finally arrived! We joke that the 1 1/2 hour drive from Austin to San Antonio was our longest :)
My best friend, K.C., and her family used to live in our neighborhood in Washington. Our kids are the same age and feel more like cousins than just friends. They moved to San Antonio two years ago and have been greatly missed!
Always a fan of surprises, K.C. and Dan had been keeping this from their kids for months. They live on Fort Sam Houston so we had to get special permission to get on post and we missed the bus dropping off the kids from their last day of school, but when their son saw ours for the first time, the reaction was priceless:
We stayed with Dan + K.C. for five days and I took approximately five photos. It was just so nice to relax with good friends, play at the pool, go for a run (ahem, walk), catch up on laundry and computer work, paint our nails and eat home cooked meals.
Good friends just make life better.
It was hard to leave, but Houston was next on our itinerary … so off we went.
HOUSTON / GALVESTON
Rather than stay in Houston, we opted for the ocean and booked a place overlooking the water in Galveston.
Our one full day was spent mainly at the Space Center Houston where we walked through a space shuttle replica, saw real rockets and walked through the Apollo exhibit (this photo that Ryan took is pretty cool). Our kids are not super in to science museums or space, so this wasn’t a total hit for us, but we’re glad we saw it anyway.
As for Galveston – there were such mixed remarks on instagram when I posted that we were there! Half of the comments said they loved it there. Half declared it the worst beach in Texas. We thought it was charming, in it’s own way. Of course I knew what was coming up, so my expectations were not high. The kids enjoyed their first experience with warm ocean water; I loved watching the birds dive-bomb for fish.
Whew. Texas is big. That post was long. Thanks, as always for following along on this pretty amazing journey!