“The stars at night, are big and bright (clap, clap, clap, clap) deep in the heart of Texas!”
My little family was invited to my friend Amber’s wedding on a cruise ship ported in Galveston, Texas. I love weddings and I had never been to Texas so I was eager to propose this trip to my husband, Chris. Unfortunately, I cannot stomach cruises. “Rock the boat, don’t rock the boat, baby!” (As I write this post, I am thinking of musical interludes; bear with me.) I have been on a cruise once before. It was a five-day, Carnival cruise that sailed from Florida to the Bahamas. I was green the entire time, even when taking motion sickness medicine, and bedridden for two days because of the nausea. It was safe to say that there would be no more cruising for me but thankfully, the wedding was to take place while the ship was docked. I called Amber’s travel agent and got to work planning our Texas vacation.
Columbus to Houston:
- We flew Southwest on a flight with many others attending the wedding including one of my best friends, Shauna. The plane had almost forty unmanned seats so we were able to take Millie’s car seat on board with us, even though we had not purchased her a seat (funny what brings me joy in my adulthood). Millie fell asleep and I watched, “How to Train your Dragon 3” (I don’t always adult) using the Southwest app – hooray for free video streaming!
Houston to Galveston:
- The humidity in Houston was aggressive; I was sticky from the walk from the plane to the terminal. My ears perked up hearing a string quartet playing live music in the airport lobby. We grabbed our luggage, packed up our bright, blue rent-a-car, and went to Walmart to grab an umbrella stroller to use throughout our trip. (We did not want to bother with bringing both a car seat and a stroller on the plane.) Chris picked a Minnie Mouse stroller for Mill and I found a cute, Texas tank top for six bucks.
- We stopped at Fuddruckers to eat dinner. There are no Fuddruckers restaurants in Ohio so it was neat eating at a restaurant that we hadn’t been to in awhile. There were arcade games and while we waited for our dinner, Chris attempted to win Millie a stuffed animal from the claw machine – he was defeated. There was also a “test your strength” game that measured how tight you could grip two metal rods. Of course, Chris thought it was hilarious when my strength measured, “wimpy”. We ate our veggie burgers and left for the hotel.
- The roads in Texas are atrocious and I was so thankful that Chris was the one executing them. I felt like we were constantly merging and my anxiety was racing. It didn’t help that some of the roads in Galveston were flooded from a storm the night prior.
- Our hotel room had a balcony with a beautiful view of the gulf. Seeing the water made us all excited to get to the beach so we packed our towels and left for the boardwalk.
- There was a strong wind coming off of the waves but that didn’t stop us from having a great time. The water was warm and the sand was packed down from the high tide. Mill was so light she didn’t leave footprints when she walked. I stood in amazement watching Millie brave the water. Looking out into vast ocean didn’t phase her; she ran to it.
- While I took pictures during my friend’s wedding, Chris watched Millie and they ate free food (the staff didn’t know that we weren’t cruising). It was hilarious when Millie started a babbling argument with the cocktail waiter when he didn’t hand her a drink at the reception. The wedding was absolutely beautiful.
- After the wedding, we met up with my friend, Alicia, at the Kennedy Space Center. We were impressed with the amount of exhibits with interactive learning. Millie loved exploring the space center. We bought Millie an astronaut doll and named her, Sally Ride. Strong women raise strong women.
- Best tex-mex in the world, PapaCito’s Cantina. Fact. My mouth is watering just thinking about that magical place. Our waiter, J-rod, was amazing; he brought free food to try because it was our first time eating there and he gave Millie a ball of dough to play with while we waited for our meal. The food was beyond delicious; Chris had fajitas and I ate nachos – the flavor was out of this world! I so wish a PapaCito’s Cantina would open near us.
- Shoutout to the Fairfield Inn and Suites for having veggie sausage in their continental breakfast buffet. Us vegans were extremely appreciative.
- Chip and Joanna Gaines put this city on their back. The hotel receptionist said that the Silo District brought Waco back to life. We spent three hours at the silos; eating cupcakes (Oh. My. Gosh. Yum.) shopping at Magnolia, drinking sweet tea from a mason jar, and playing in the garden with Mill – she had to smell every flower and whisper, “ahhh” in admiration.
- Waco has a National Park with preserved mammoth remains. A park ranger walked us through the excavation site and apparently Millie already knew everything because she would interrupt the ranger to address the group with her baby babbles and hand gestures.
- We stopped at Magnolia’s, Little Shop on Bosque, the Gaines’ original home decor store, to pick up a new shirt for Millie after she spilled the sweet tea down the front of her. The store was so small – I’m sure it must be humbling for them to see how it all started. The shop currently sells discounted items so we were able to get her a nice, linen shirt for cheap.
- If you are wanting to shop in Waco, look no further than, The Spice Rack. This building houses hundreds of vendors selling the cutest stuff. I was able to pick up Millie two new pairs of Burt’s Bees pjs for less than $10 a piece. Mill left with a rubber duck wearing a cowboy hat, that we named, Dolly Duckton. “Tumble outta bed and I stumble to the kitchen, pour myself a cup of ambition.” Unfortunately, I fell up the stairs walking to the bathroom so that was embarrassing; praying not too many people saw that trip. Good news though, I was not hurt, just my pride.
- We visited Cameron Park to hike Jacob’s Ladder, the infamous country club climb. It was a steep incline and the steps were uneven stones. I was grateful that Chris carried Millie up because I struggled to keep my balance. The view from the top was just okay which was disappointing after reading such raving reviews and the mosquitos were atrocious. I’m sure if we lived in Waco, we would visit this park often because it was spacious, shaded, had picnic tables and play gyms for the kids, hiking trails, etc.
- Waco has a walking bridge with larger than life, longhorn sculptures to memorialize the cattle trade that took place there. Millie was excited to be able to run around however, there was a large gap below the railings of the bridge that a toddler could easily tumble through and fall into quick-moving, deep water. Needless to say, we kept Mill close to us on this adventure.
- Experiencing the Stockyard was like being in an old Western film, sans the bar fights and shoot outs. Mille and I sat on the back of a longhorn (she didn’t care for that) and she went on a pony ride. The man administering the rides told us the horse she rode was named, Lil Sebastian. He later came clean and admitted he heard Chris and my conversation about Parks and Rec, and he couldn’t help himself; the pony’s actual name was, Peanut. “He’s 5,000 candles in the wind”.
- Our COSI memberships had reciprocity at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. Amazingly, there were tons of fossils, not just casts displayed. The gemstone exhibit was beautiful and the children’s area was a lot of fun for Mill. It was designed like downtown Dallas and for an out-of-stater, I appreciated this personalized touch. At closing time, Millie still wanted to play, so she enjoyed the splash pad at the entrance of the museum. She was soaked but wasn’t cold- Texas was so hot.
- We spent our final evening swimming in the hotel pool, watching a Cubs baseball game on tv, and ordering sushi for dinner.
Our trip to Texas was another grand adventure for my little family. I’m so grateful for the memories we made and the moments I won’t soon forget.