Travel: Texas (and Canadian) Style

This weekend, I had the special privilege of meeting the one and only 50StateCanuck who came to Texas to run Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio.  In the early planning stages, my daughters were both going to go with me but their schedules didn’t work out.  So I embarked alone on the 6 hour drive South last Friday morning, determined to show Jane the best of Texas.  I have no doubt that she will chronicle our time together in San Antonio and it will be more interesting to hear it told through her Canadian lens. For that reason, I won’t be going into great detail of our shenanigans,  but instead will give you non-Texas folks a lesson in travel for my great state.  (By the way, you will want to check out her blog full of professional-looking photos and a great rehash of the trip at 50statecanuck.com – be patient, as she travels back to Canada today 🙂 )

First, I will give you the Cliff Notes version of our weekend.  I arrived in San Antonio around 3:30 and met Jane on the Riverwalk for a drink.  I usually have a lot of anxiety over meeting new people, but was different with her.  She is so easy to talk to and it’s quite fun listening to her accent.  (Although, I think most people would say my accent is thicker than hers.)  I felt we hit it off right away.  (Let’s hope she says the same! LOL)  We made our plans for the evening: basically dinner and the River boat tour.  Thankfully our main goal on the tour was to see Christmas lights on the Riverwalk, because our tour guide……struggled.  That evening when we got back to the hotel, we exchanged gifts (who knew we would BOTH have gifts?!?)  I received, what I expect to be delicious, maple syrup and maple syrup candies.  If you want to see what I got Jane, you’ll have to read her blog. 😉

I don't think I've ever had REAL maple syrup.  I KNOW I've never had maple syrup candy!!  I can't wait to try it!

I don’t think I’ve ever had REAL maple syrup. I KNOW I’ve never had maple syrup candy!! I can’t wait to try it!

I know that Jane is interested in history wherever she goes, so I suggested early on that we tour the missions.  The missions are my favorite part of San Antonio, hands down, and the reason that San Antonio exists today.  The tour was amazing, and even I learned some new things this time around. 🙂   One thing that saddened me, however, was the renovations done to Mission San Jose.  Since it is an active congregation, the parish keeps up the inside of the church and the parks department maintains everything outside the church walls.  I personally felt it didn’t keep with the mission traditions, but it is still a beautiful building.

On the left: Mission San Jose sanctuary while I worshiped there in 2009. On the right: the updated sanctuary.  It is so ornate that it doesn't fit in with the simplicity of mission life.

On the left: Mission San Jose sanctuary when I worshiped there in 2009. (Shhhh -I took communion and I’m not even Catholic!)
On the right: the updated sanctuary. It is so ornate not that it doesn’t fit in with the simplicity of mission life.

Saturday evening concluded our time together with a trip out to Gruene (pronounced Green), Texas.  If you are a country music fan, chances are  you have heard of Gruene Hall, the oldest dance hall in Texas.  Many up-and-coming artists play there regularly, as well as established artists.  Somehow, successful country singers make their way onto the Gruene Hall stage at some point in their career.  If you’ve been to Gruene, I’m sure you have eaten at the Grist Mill, as we did!

Sunday morning I got up and ready to send Jane off to her race.  It was such a fun weekend, but too short, in my opinion, and it was difficult to say goodbye.  I was on the road by 7:45 to make the trek back to Big B and made great time because hardly anyone travels that early on Sunday morning!

Now, on to my Texas Travel Tips:

  •  If you are going to travel in Texas, DO NOT drive in the left lane unless and until you are prepared to drive AT LEAST an average of 20 miles over the speed limit.  On Texas freeways, speed limits are guidelines, really, open to interpretation and our interpretation is that the posted speed limit is much too slow.  (Hint: If someone is riding your bumper, you should probably move over.  If you don’t feel like moving over, just remember that we all have guns.)
  • You MUST stop in West at Czech Stop, going AND coming.  It’s the law. (If you don’t agree, we can’t be friends.)  By the way, West was famous in Texas long before the fertilizer plant explosion, which was just days after the Boston Marathon bombing.  But now, it seems even more special when I’m able to stop.
    The BEST bakery in Texas!

    The BEST bakery in Texas!

    I had some difficulty choosing the kolaches. Let's just say I bought "a few".

    I had some difficulty choosing the kolaches. Let’s just say I bought “a few”.

    OK, I didn't have trouble here.  These have meat.  And I didn't even photograph all the breads.

    OK, I didn’t have trouble choosing here. These have meat.  AND I didn’t even photograph the breads.

    I brought Jane a pecan (puh-cahn NOT pee-can) pie.

    I brought Jane a pecan (puh-cahn NOT pee-can) pie.

  • If you stop in Georgetown for lunch, you might stumble upon a cupcake shop by accident!  Thankfully, I found this or my whole trip might have been a waste.  Jane clearly doesn’t understand the importance of eating cupcakes in every city you visit.

    Seriously was soooo delicious.  Oh, and the salted caramel I saved for later was TO DIE FOR.

    Seriously was soooo delicious. Oh, and the salted caramel I saved for later was TO DIE FOR.

  • DO NOT drive through Austin; take the toll road!  I have to admit that I made this mistake on Friday.  Set me back at least 30 minutes.  Austin traffic is terrible…..ALWAYS.
  • Do not stop at any Shell station in Round Rock.  I pulled up to the pump, got out, and all the pumps turned off.  I know I was 4 hours into my trip at that point, but I didn’t realize I looked that road weary.
  • Not even Texans know what those caterpillar/worm buildings are between Waxahachie and Italy.  It’s just best not to spend much time thinking about it.  The most likely explanation is alien activity, but you can’t talk about aliens in Texas.

    Pic courtesy of:

    Pic courtesy of: Roadside America

  • No matter what your destination, you must ensure that your route takes you past a Buc-ee’s.  If you don’t know what Buc-ee’s (pronounced Buck-ee’s) is; I am sorry and I hope that you actually live life one day and stop at one.  It is a rest stop/gas station/convenience store/clothing store/kind-of grocery store with more bathroomsthan you’ll ever find in one place AND they are all clean!  (HOW do they keep them so clean???)  Half the store is dedicated to every kind of trail mix/snack food currently available to modern man. Seriously, amazing.
    That's 120 gas pumps and the building is as big as a grocery store.

    That’s 120 gas pumps and the building is as big as a grocery store AND usually so busy that you have to wait for a gas pump.

    Your convenience store doesn't have a beaver statue in the center of a Texas star??

    Your convenience store doesn’t have a beaver statue in the center of a Texas star??

 

Seriously, though, this trip was exactly what I needed.  Of course, the BEST part was meeting Jane!  She is just as amazing, fun, kind and sweet as she comes across on Twitter.  But I needed a reprieve from life.  It’s hard to explain, but I have had a mental disconnect with my upcoming race yet at the same time I am a ball of nerves.  I was much more confident before I started having these ITB problems.  I worry (pretty much all the time) that my ITB is going to REALLY affect the race.  So I try not to think about it because it is unpleasant (that’s how I deal sometimes), but I’m usually unsuccessful.   However….I didn’t think about the race or my ITB all weekend, thanks to Jane!!

Spending time with her got me to thinking about my friends, though, because she really is loads of fun.  I am blessed with some very good face-to-face friends as well as friendships that have developed via Twitter through a common love of running. I am even more thankful for these friends now, because I have been struggling of late about what my friendship means with some of my friends.  There is one friendship in particular that I have been mourning: my running partner.  And while I know and understand that she is the type that moves from friend to friend, I have still been very hurt by the fact that she won’t even discuss with me how my training is going – yet she still calls to talk about anything BUT running.  Thinking about that on the drive home caused me a bit of sadness.  When I got home, however, I had a package waiting from my friend RunCarli.  She mailed me a note of encouragement for my upcoming marathon AND included some of her favorite gels.  The timing was perfect to remind me that it is natural to have people leave your life after a season, but new, sometimes more special ones, enter your life at just the right time!

Blessed by kindness!

Blessed by kindness!

I want to close with a BIG thank you to my husband, Bobby.  I am so blessed because he is so supportive of my running, and anything I want to do, really.  This weekend wouldn’t have been possible without his support.  He kept things going at home and put on the hat of Taxi Mom for all of Alli’s activities.  I appreciate all he does for our family very, very much!!

6 days until Dallas!!

Later, y’all!

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