First of all; WACO should be on everyones bucket list!
So, on May 17th, 2016 we left on my 55th Birthday/Roadtrip/Bucket-list-most Excellent Adventure. When I say we, I mean my mom, my daughter-in-law Andrea, 4 of her girls, Claire and Ellie. (Ruth was in Africa and Grace had too many “finish the 6th grade and move to Virginia” social engagements) With the route programed into the cars, stops and a scavenger hunt for the kids planned; we had an A.I.S of 6:00 am. (Best laid plans always need to be flexible and this trip would be no exception…so a 6:30 departure had to do!)
Our first stop was to be the Amish Cheese House in Chouteau, Oklahoma for breakfast. Don’t believe everything you read on the internet, because they are not open at 7:00 am. However across the street was the Dutch Pantry, (which in spite of their atmosphere and hospitality) served a great tasting breakfast buffet. Even with the late start we were a little ahead of schedule so baby Ruby’s feeding would happen 30 minutes later, but everyone needed a potty break.
You can not take your first trip to Texas and not stop at the giant Texas star! Well, this was my grand-girls first and stopping for a picture perfect photo OP was a must! Who knows, Texas visitors center may just want to use such a photo for their next brochures…oh, well, Clint always says its like herding cats!
Next stop Dallas Texas where Melissa Cannon and her family would have lunch for us! How we ended up 2 hours behind schedule, I’ll never know but we finally arrived at the Cannon’s for a delicious lunch and lots of hugs. When I think of how we met the Cannon family on a beach in San Diego in 2009 I get a beautiful, tangible picture of First Samuel 18:1 and how God actually knits friendships. (And I hope all the kids realize I did not force the obligatory group picture but we were on a really tight schedule!)
(Melissa gave me two books which later in my trip would be evidence of needed grace: “Fight Back With Joy”, and “When God Doesn’t Fix It”)
Although we we stuffed to the gills, we were told Little Czech Bakery in West, Texas was non-negotiable so we pulled into the unassuming gas station and walked out with boxes filled to the brim with goodies to take to our hotel. It is a sweet tooth’s delight, and the hundreds of pastry’s only slightly overshadow the savory rolls and sandwiches lined up in the glass case. They are particularly noted for its Kolaches and the Jalapeno Sausage with cheese, but the girls also opted for giant frosted cupcakes and pecan rolls. This may have been worth the trip alone! I must also say the folks who worked there were so friendly and welcoming. If you go in, ask for Alex, he’ll make you feel like his best customer!
Twenty minute after Czech we were in Waco. All the littles wanted to do was swim, so Great-Grandma stayed back. We wanted to get to the Waco Farmers Market, which according to the internet was open until 7:00 on Tuesday’s. Evidently, the internet is not accurate on this fact either, but Ruby was ready for dinner so Claire, Ellie and I explored for Waco Suspension Bridge and the Indian Spring Park Bronze Cattle. The little girls would get to check this park off their Scavenger Hunt the next afternoon. (Too excited to wait, and only a few blocks away we snuck a peak at tomorrows destination.)
We ate Vietnamese at the Clay Pot (opting not to sit on the floor because they didn’t offer cranes to pull us back up off the floor!) The food was terrific, but they do not offer Crab Rangoon (we confused our Asian food and mom was a little disappointed.) I think we were in bed by 9:45. Tomorrow was the day we were needing to be extra rested and geared for. I must admit I was like a kid anticipating Disney,
You can’t eat breakfast in Texas without a Texas shaped waffle. I highly recommend the Comfort Inn and Suites off I-35 exit 237. They were so hospitable, had our rooms ready, extra keys and directions to some of the favorite Waco destination. Every time we entered, they greeted us with a smile, asked about our day and gushed over my beautiful granddaughters. And you know those special dead bolt locks than can only be locked from the inside. If some wild phenomenon causes yours to get locked with no one inside…the owner himself comes over with a special tool and unlocks it. He even smile and recommends the best place to get Italian food!
Magnolia Market at the Silo’s
Even typing the name excites me. I will not be able to tell you everything fabulous about the Market, but the hashtag on the back of our shirts should have read: #worthit! (Andrea designed our shirts to wear for the day, and even with a slight mix-up on sizes; I loved them) From the lovely girls who greeted us and offered to take our pictures with our own phones and cameras (no money making scheme here) to the cashiers at the checkout, we were treated as if we were VIP costumers and the only ones in the store. I may have shed a tear when I first walked through the doors. (Actually, I did!)Even though it was crowded (but nothing like I’m told it is on the weekends), it was perfect in every way and exactly what I wanted it to be! I didn’t feel it was overpriced and there was plenty of merchandise and a variety of price ranges. I was on a mission for a cake plate to add to my collection, but once I got there I started to second guess what I was really in the market for. (If any of you know my first IKEA experiences, you will remember I got so overwhelmed I came home with a year supply of napkins.) So, I carefully took my time wandering around, trying not to hurry and make my choices with great care. I plan on downsizing my plates and entertaining pieces drastically this summer and didn’t want to circumvent my pre-efforts. (and by pre-effort, I mean trying to convince myself of the benefits of less stuff) I ended up with one beautiful cake plate, Joanne’s awesome leather drop earrings, an hob-nail vase for Ruth, a knife pig rest, and a few carpenter pencils from Chip’s corner for Clint. In my mind I was decorating the guest house, and I will say I came away with some great ideas. I may need to make a second trip!
The outside areas of the Silo’s is set up for bored husbands, busy kids, and less than enthusiastic shoppers. Don’t worry about dragging your hubby or bribing your kids because there is plenty to do to keep everyone happy. The food trucks offered unique and tasty lunch, the gardens and little fairy house, swings and yard games could have kept us there for even longer, but I had an agenda! I was a little hesitant to say good-bye, so I just said “see you later silos”.
The next part of the trip we would separate: Ruby Jane would take all the bigs to Harp Design Co., Common Ground Coffee Shop and recommended Junk Stores. Claire and Ellie would take the littles to check off a few items on their scavenger Hunt and to the Cameron Park Zoo. I’m not a zoo fan, but the otter slide looked amazing and the girls said it was one of their favorite zoo experiences!
While the littles were off on their own adventure, Ruby Jane enjoyed junking and coffee drinking and sight seeing. Great-Grandma could not convince the sweet employees at Harp Design Co. to sell us the display candlesticks, (poor Clint and his team can not keep up with the demand) but I did buy a scrap-wood “L” to add to my stair wall. His house is directly next door and I can not imagine why, but all the shades were closed? The coffee drinks at Common Ground were incredible and the atmosphere exciting. I can imagine how fun it must be to be a Baylor student on a weekend in the Spring and Fall.
On Wednesday evening Ellie wanted Italian so we didn’t try Lula Jane’s or Shorty’s Pizza. Instead we took our hotel owners’ recommendation and drove into another section of
Waco to Baris Fine Italian Cuisine. The outside was a little sketchy (an old Pizza Hut perhaps?) but it was very busy. We ventured inside. People were bringing in their own bottles of wine and and the aroma of garlic, fresh baked bread and pasta was amazing. They brought out what looked like huge dinner rolls (in shape), but it was to-die-for Italian bread. The pasta was all homemade and the sauces were scrumptious! I thought the prices must be a mistake, kids meals around $3 and Lasagna for $6, but they weren’t, and I fed my gang of eight for around $60 with the tip. Even though we were once again stuffed, we headed over to Health Camp for ice-cream and shakes. I’d heard Chip say they had the best burgers and homemade soft serve and he was right about the soft serve!
Our last day, which was also my big 55, I had two things on my radar; and the pouring rain
was not one of them! The Dr. Pepper Museum for the littles. and The Spice Market for the bigs. it’s a good thing they were inside and both turned out to be great fun and again, worth the time and money. The kids whizzed through the museum because they knew the old fashion soda counter was at the end. Vivion loved the “giant dvd” and Ruby Jane loved the idea of getting something from a cup. (Attention: There was no baby drinking DP in the filming of this photo.) I only had a hour to spend in the Spice Market if I was going to stay on schedule. Doable; yes. Ideal; no. Then we ate downstairs at the delicious and comfortable Olive Branch Bakery & Cafe. The owner believes that good fellowship always begins with good food and she has truly incorporated this concept into her restaurant. Proportions are big enough to share and prices are comparable to Panera but at Olive Branch they come to your table and take your order, which is one of my favorite things about dining out!
We found Waco to be filled with pleasant and kind people. Chip and Joanna Gaines are taking great care of their city (Jeremiah 29:7) The businesses that we shopped and restaurants we ate, had a remarkable customer appreciation, service and care that made us feel valued. I would recommend this road trip to anyone…but take me!
Now, dreading the trip home, tired from the fa-la-la & hoop-la, sad that the trip was over (worried that I may not have seen everything at the Silo’s) I could feel my thoughts were not that of the gratitude I’d anticipated. I was not leaving with the same leap in my heart and delight that I’d left with. I know the typical let down we feel after an exciting event concludes, but this seemed different. I could feel slight tension in the air and missing our turn and detouring through OK City didn’t help. Something was nagging at my heart, it’s going to be a busy and strain-filled summer. Ruth is out of the country; Clint’s work has added huge burdens and great cuts; Claire will be gone for a month in July; there are family health issues; my daughter-in-law sitting just 12″ away from me is facing a huge change and difficult chapter as she and Blake AND those five precious grand-girls are moving 15 1/2 hours away to start medical school. I didn’t want our time to end because that meant reality would have to begin. The rain was making my driving more difficult, I could feel that familiar sorrowful dread that can creep up on me when I am least prepared…
“If the Lord had not helped me, I would have gone quickly to the land of silence. I said, ‘I am falling’; but your constant love, O Lord, held me up.” Psalms 94:17-19
We arrived home LATE, but safely and my love had left me this giant Birthday card. I know my feelings follow my faith, and I will look back (eventually) and see the evidence of grace My Excellent Adventure in Waco Texas offered me. Psalms 94 comes to mind and He reminds me that today IS a good day for a good day!