Texas welcomed us with open arms. We crossed the state line at night and stayed at a roadside rest stop/welcome center. We woke to find that the visitor center had lots of great info, maps and a boardwalk with interpretive exhibits through the Blue Elbow Swamp! It felt like we were at an attraction, not a rest stop. What a great little place to stroll. We didn’t see any alligators, but there were signs posted that they’re there.
We stayed just outside of Houston and thanks to a friend’s friend, we were able to set up camp for free behind the local VFW. We even had water and electric hookups. We spent a lot of time with my buddy Sara and her sweet little boy Michael. It was so great finally meeting him! Sara and I hadn’t seen each other in about 7 years. Catching up was fantastic and as easy as ever. Thanks for hosting, cooking some delicious food and exploring downtown with us. It was neat seeing a park with the city skyline as the background. We walked along the river, underneath the freeway underpasses that twisted and turned above us, played in crunchy leaves and saw a huge hawk perched on the play structure.
We couldn’t be in the area without a trip to the Space Center Houston. We had SO much fun there! Aside from checking out all the exhibits, we took a tram tour and got to see a mockup of the International Space Station and the Orion capsule. That was fantastic to see it from such a close distance. There were a couple shows we attended: one was a chemistry show and the other was showing life in space on the space station. Not once, but twice Lilly volunteered to go on a stage and was picked from the audience. It was amazing watching her up on stage participating. She was pretty witty for a 5 year old. At the end of the space station show, she was presented with a photo of an astronaut as well as her very own bottle of recycled urine (aka just water). She thought that was absolutely hilarious!
Next on our Texas route was San Antonio. It worked out so serendipitously that we were taking I10 and it happens to go past where our friends live. In San Antonio we visited and hung out with our great friends Natalie and Kendall. We hadn’t seen them since they moved right after Violet was born. We stayed at a campground just down the street from their house. We were able to hang out with them the whole time we were there. Natalie was our tour guide and we ventured to Pearl for the farmers market where we had coffee, ate fresh mouthwatering food, sampled empanadas and sauerkraut and the kids colored in chalk on the ground and ran wild in the grassy area. When we were done at the market we strolled along the famous River Walk for a bit. The kids stopped, with hot cocoa in hand, sat down, and said they were having coffee. Old souls.
After our afternoon at Pearl, we headed over to San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. The kids worked on another Junior Ranger badge.
Jeff celebrated his birthday while we were in San Antonio and it was great to spend it with close friends. They treated us to a day at Top Golf. What a fun place! Music, food, drinks, golf games on a driving range. The gist is that you have to hit the ball into a certain hole for points. Kind of like a golf meets skeeball meets darts. If that makes sense. The kids enjoyed themselves so much that they STILL keep talking about it and any time they see a driving range they assume it’s a Top Golf and request to go.
We made Kendall’s family’s pierogi recipe, all from scratch. In all my years of eating them, I’ve never made them but always wanted to. It was a group effort. Even the kids helped out. Sauerkraut mushroom and potato were the fillings we opted for. The night ended with a song, cake and hugs goodbye to our friends. Until next year! Texas is huge and we still had a lot of ground to cover. We would spend the next day and a half just driving, still in Texas.
Happy Birthday Jeff!