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The Great State Of Texas

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:

Dallas/Fort Worth

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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.
fortworth2

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?!).

texasburger

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

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.

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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.

joannaandme

(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.
wacosilos

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.

magnoliatable

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 :)

magnoliainside

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.
wacorain

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.

wacoicecreamThis 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.

austinroads

AUSTIN

While in Austin, we stayed with new friends who own and run the coolest retreat property called Green Acres.

greenacres

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.
greenacresyurt

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.
greenacresfarm

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. ravenandlily

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.

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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.

SAN ANTONIO

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:

masonmicah

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.
sanantonio

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.
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!

39 thoughts on “The Great State Of Texas”

  1. We moved 2 years ago from The Great State of Texas to your neck of the woods. We are now in Salem Oregon. We came for our only grandchild who lives in Portland and discovered we really like the pacific NW. It is beautiful here. I was laughing about your description of the Texas rain ( commonly known as a gully washer). I love the rain in Oregon. Slow and gentle, rarely do I hear thunder and I haven’t seen lightening since I left Texas. I joined late but I am enjoying your vacation Pictures. By the way, I think the best beach in Texas, for a family in Port Aransas. South Padre has become too much of a party beach.

  2. bridget b. | 623designs.com

    Very cool! I’m a native Texan, but I always love reading reviews of the state from out-of-towners to find cool places to visit.

    It was a pleasant surprise seeing that y’all stopped at Common Grounds. I went to college at Baylor and have some fond memories there.

  3. I love hearing about your trip and the amazing memories you are making. My husband and I are fairly young retirees ;), and are talking of living on the road full time. Just mentions to each other every day or week or so right now. But I have this little feeling that, God willing, that dream will take hold fully in our hearts and we will be out there on the road at some point, enjoying this wonderful country God has allowed us to live in. Thanks for sharing your trip with us.

  4. Oh my gosh! That gray and gold geometric accent wall is beautiful at Raven + Lily. Actually, the whole store decor is just perfect. I’m inspired. :)

  5. The Texas post is long because Texas is so big of course! I’m glad you liked my darling state. And you got to experience our insane weather. Yippee! :)

  6. So glad you had fun in Texas. We love our great state!! if you came back right now you’d be so hot. It has been 95+ for a few days.

  7. awe yay!! so glad yall got to road trip. I actually live in Santa Fe, TX which is about 20 minutes from Galveston. {Santa Fe is a little bitty town about 12K people} glad yall enjoyed our state :)

  8. We just got back from Austin (& Waco!) and loved Hopdoddy too. So delicious. And I took your advice about visiting Magnolia later in the day. There were still lots of people but it wasn’t too bad. I love following along on your trip!

  9. I am sooooo loving following along on your trip. Seeing all the places through your photo’s from my chair here in South Australia. Please don’t feel like you are posting too many, because you’re not. I have learnt alot so far about places in the U.S. that I probably wouldn’t find out. I’m also seeing places that I will probably never have the chance to see. I love that you stop into places and chat with the owners. Seriously your kids are going to remember this experience for the rest of their lives. I wish we could do it with ours. Rach xx

  10. Um, is nobody else dying to know? Or am I the only one who doesn’t know? WHAT IS THAT FUZZY BIRD THING???? I am laughing out loud, whatever it may be!
    Thanks for sharing all this road trip wonderfulness with us!

  11. Thank you so much for your inspiring blog and for mentioning The Findery! It truly means the world to us to serve customers like you. Have a blessed day!

  12. How did I miss that you were coming to the Houston/Galveston area? My hubby works at NASA and totally would have given you guys a “real” tour of all the cool stuff visitors don’t get to see. Anyway, so glad you enjoyed our state. We love it!

  13. Ahh! I’m so glad you loved my home state! I’m a Baylor grad, so I adore Waco–you hit some great spots. But–I really love knowing that you stayed at Green Acres! Brandon and Kirsten are friends of mine from church in Austin, and they’re such lovely people! And green acres is so amazing–I love going there! Keep on traveling, sweet lady! Loving seeing these snaps from around the country!

  14. I love this post, and your whole road trip itinerary thus far has been awesome. I can’t wait to do something like this one day when my littles are older! Just seeing that photo of the country road to Austin…oh my heart is yearning to go!

  15. Woohoo for Texas! I would say next time, you should come to East Texas, buuuuuuuut there’s not that much exciting unless you love really pretty, lush, pine tree lined back roads. Or museums about oil rigs. So, yeah. You did good where you were. But! It is interesting again just how diverse the terrain is because East Texas looks nothing like the hill country which looks nothing like West Texas (at ALL), which looks nothing like N. Texas.

    And holy cow with the rain. Our rainstorms are temperamental, for sure, but it’s been nuts!

    Glad you enjoyed our great state!

  16. So happy you enjoyed your time in Texas! Made me proud to be a Texan and remember to appreciate things we see everyday here!

  17. You guys got a great snapshot of Texas, but as a previous poster mentioned, there is still a lot to see in the western part of the state! Even locals were a little thrown off by the level of rain this year. I mean, it rains like that occasionally, but several downpours in the span of a few days was a little nuts. Can’t wait to read about the rest of your trip!

  18. This is just too funny for me not to share – My husband and I took a ‘Tour of Texas’ for our annual vacation. We started in San Antonio, went to Austin, and ended in Waco…. I was following along with your trip through Instagram, and we missed your family at every major location by about 24 hours, haha – I’m passing along your pictures to my friends and using them as my own as I forgot to take any :) Following along on your adventure has been a blast, and it was cool to be in the same area as you for a few days! Safe travels!

  19. Wait, you were in Austin but didn’t have a meetup with your podcast bestie Jamie????? Or is she currently on the road herself? Ugh, just want to see you guys together ;) but so cool you guys stayed at Green Acres! Love it!

  20. LOVE LOVE LOVE this entire post!!! You should sell the picture of the country road. What an amazing adventure. Whenever I get your emails, I can’t wait to read the post!!

  21. It warms my heart when folks find something(s) to love about my Texas!!! Well, not mine exactly, but I love the many places to go and things to see without ever crossing the border! Your trip sounds amazing and your children will be blessed with happy tales for years to come!

  22. Emily,
    I’m thoroughly enjoying your posts on the exciting RV roadtrip. I came across this book today from a local Nashville design group, Anderson Design. Not sure if you’ve made it to Nashville yet but you might see some of their “Spirit of Nashville” posters around town. This new coffee table book on the National Parks seems right up your alley. Here’s the link https://www.andersondesigngroupstore.com/book_american-cities_160-page-national-parks-coffee-table-book_anderson-design-group.html

    I’m also in the throws of your simplified Illustrator “class”. I’ve been using Illustrator for over 25 years but love learning “tricks of the trade”. Great job on the tutorials!!

    Enjoy!!
    Karin

  23. So glad you enjoyed our state so many many more lovely places but it is a big state and I under stand it’s hard to choose with only so much time. Galveston beaches are not Texas at its best but the people there are friendly and you will surely see more warm beaches in your travels to other lovely states. Every place you mentioned I was nodding my head YES! And agreeing with you. We have been to your state quite a few times and love it there also isn’t it great to live in such a diverse country geographically. I enjoy reading your posts, stay safe and drive carefully!( I am required to say that since I am a mom)

  24. I’m so excited to one-day visit texas and the world. You are so inspiring to hit the road and go. Thanks for sharing your journey and the pictures of Waco!

  25. Great to see and read about your adventures. Imagine Houston was flooding again when you were headed there so probably why you went on to Galveston. We are going to Lake Jackson in November when the weather is most bearable and I hope to visit the Silos in Waco. Thanks for the tip on Common Grounds as we are big on the coffee. Did you see many snakes in Texas. My concern.

  26. I was born and raised in Texas and after living all over the state, I am now happily entrenched in the Lubbock area. Loved reading about your experiences in some of my favorite spots. But I must say, you gotta come back and next time, tour Lubbock (Buddy Holly museum, for one), then north to Palo Duro canyon to see the outdoor play TEXAS, then Amarillo and some of the old Route 66 spots in the Texas Panhandle. There is so much to see in our great (and very huge!) state. Glad you enjoyed it.

  27. I am really enjoying your posts! This one was especially enjoyable since Texas is my home state!! Thanks for sharing your trip with us all!

  28. I can’t tell you how much I’m enjoying your posts. I’m vacationing right along with you. This was a wonderful idea for your family and none of you will ever forget it! What a smart thing to do. Keep the posts coming. I love each and every one!!!

  29. I had to laugh about your description of the rain. We moved to South Carolina from Seattle (lifelong resident, too). Pulling into SC for the first time, it was pouring rain…nothing like we had ever seen. It rained the entire first week we were here, yet it was at least 90 degrees every day. Plus high humidity. Meanwhile, back in Seattle, it was sunny, upper 70’s. Crazy! I am still not used to the rainstorms here (and the thunder!).

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