I recently had the opportunity to go visit one of my best friends, Melanie, at her new home in Texas, as well as check out Texas Children’s Hospital. While there, I got the chance to get a grand tour of the entire state. We hit Houston, San Antonio, Austin, Waco, and other smaller cities. I had already been to Dallas-Fort Worth in high school for an orchestra competition (judge me), and we excluded West Texas because Mel and every other true Texan I’ve talked to say it’s irrelevant.
I landed in Houston and immediately was treated to some of the best fake Mexican food I have ever had. The thing I noticed most, though, was the size of the place. The restaurant was massive, open, and loud. I assumed it was just a larger location of this chain, but I was quickly proved wrong.
Every single thing I saw was enormous. Restaurants. Grocery stores. Car dealerships. Schools. Parking lots. Gas stations. Billboards. Highways (and traffic). Everything. It was overwhelming.
Perhaps the most interesting jumbo-sized structure I encountered was Buc-ee’s. I am not over exaggerating when I say that this chain of gas stations were more like Walmarts. It operated as a factory.
For every car that left the parking lot, there was a new one coming in to take its parking spot. People marched inside as others left. There were enough people inside the store to fill a small auditorium, and yet it was not chaotic. Everyone walked in lines amongst the obnoxious amounts of food, drinks, and Texas garb. The Buc-ee’s we visited was an attraction in itself. I enjoyed people watching and staring in awe at how many individuals could fit into a gas station at one time.
I kind of regret not purchasing a genuine Buc-ee’s tank top to memorialize the experience. It truly is unlike anything else.
After a few days in Houston, we headed west to San Antonio. Not going to lie, I was kind of underwhelmed by the size of the Alamo. I enjoyed it, being the history nerd that I am, but all the textbooks made it out to be this huge deal, which in my head, meant huge, literally. In reality, it’s not that big. The River Walk, however, was big. Though I got obnoxiously burned on my shoulders, I loved being able to walk, eat, and shop by the river and experience a little more of the Mexican-American culture.
I do wonder how the Bachelorette was able to stay in San Antonio for an entire week of dates, because we did pretty much everything in a few hours.
We then went to Austin, and it’s safe to say I fell in love. Downtown was alright, Sixth Street was entertaining, but what really sold me was the Hill Country. WOW. We went to this incredible restaurant (complete with FIVE bars) overlooking Lake Travis. It was situated on a 400 foot cliff, and the views were amazing.
If I had the chance, I would move to a lake-front home in a heartbeat.
Following the theme, the outlets in Texas are UNREAL. Not only are they large, they are packed with a great selection of stores, and the deals they have are incredible. I bought so many sweaters for practically nothing, and Mel reminded me it’s because Texans have no need for sweaters. I may be happy with these purchases now, but I may rethink them when it is freezing cold in West Lafayette and Texans are still walking around in shorts. I visited my first-ever Lululemon outlet and almost died of happiness. The worker at check out told me she had never seen someone smile so much while in the store, which is pretty telling.
After the outlets, I experienced the highlight of the trip, and perhaps the highlight of my entire summer. I VISITED MAGNOLIA MARKET!
For all y’all who are unfamiliar, Magnolia Market is the home decor store owned and operated by Joanna Gaines, as in Chip and Joanna Gaines from Fixer Upper on HGTV. Some of y’all are probably still extremely confused on what I am referring to, and for you people, I suggest enlightening yourselves to the magic and wonder that is Home and Garden Television.
Although Waco itself is pretty sketchy, Magnolia Market was magnificent. It was packed full of visitors, some coming from as far away as Ohio. Shirts were flying off the shelves, and Mel and I were lucky enough to snag two for ourselves. I also got one for my mom since she is as obsessed as we are. I fangirled and looked everywhere to see Joanna herself, but unfortunately, she was not there. However, I felt satisfied knowing I was standing where she probably stood just hours earlier. In short, I LOVE THE GAINES. I will await the day they agree to work on projects more than 30 miles away from Waco and turn my future home into a beautiful creation. Until then, I will watch their show religiously while wearing my shirt.
Mel and I promised that even though she is now graduated and I am going to graduate in May 2016, we are going to continue our tradition of trips every year. I am truly blessed to have her in my life, and I cannot wait to see where the future takes us (and if I join her in Houston!)