Troy and Waco, Texas
Last weekend we traveled to Texas for my mother-in-law's funeral. Debby was born in Waco, Texas, and raised for the first several years of her life in that area. Both her parents' families had ranches there; her daddy and uncle tamed horses together, and the family home her daddy bought his parents in Hubbard is now a historic building, decorated and maintained by Darin's great aunt, who is nearing 90 now.
It was the girls' first time flying on an airplane and we had geared up for quite some time. The excitement was palpable on our way down to Sacramento, and when we got there, my dad refused to just drop us off, insisting instead that he park and help us carry in our luggage. We were also bringing our own two carseats.
But when we got to the Sacramento airport, we found out that our first flight to San Francisco was delayed four hours! That would put us in San Francisco after the time we'd need to catch our connecting flight to Austin. So they cabbed us in a mini van, along with one other passenger, to San Francisco, right in the thick of rush hour traffic. Pops escorted us all the way out to the cab loading zone, seeing us safely off as we sped away to catch our next flight in San Francisco.
Our cabmate was a pretty young lady in colorful harem pants named Camilla. The cab driver had us put one of the carseats in the back, the third row; this happened to be Polly's seat. At first I worried how Polly would do sitting alone with a stranger in a seat behind us, as nice as Camilla seemed to be. But never fear! Suddenly Camilla pulled out a pile of children's books to read aloud. It turns out she is studying to be an elementary school teacher; she loves kids, had heart shaped sunglasses that matched Polly's (they took a selfie together), and can chit chat with a three year old for three hours, no problem!
We arrived at the San Francisco Airport in plenty of time to grab our last California burritos and play on the Spirograph before heading out.
We still had a couple hours of daylight as we took off out of San Francisco, flying out over the sparkling water of the Pacific Ocean. Polly was such a fun traveling companion, squealing with excitement and joy at the sensation of the plane lifting off. We were sitting next to a businessman who was not so impressed with her friendliness and glee, but that seems to be the norm traveling by air; it happened on the way back as well. Luckily I had other passengers commend the girls on their good behavior and tell me what good little travelers they are.
Darin and Lucy sat right in front of us, but we were hemmed in by grumps in the aisle seats. Luckily we never needed to get up even once. I found the tech on this United flight super confusing, so no movies or anything like that for us. The girls just played, looked out the window, colored, and read books for the three and a half hour flight to Austin.
When we arrived in Austin, it was midnight their time and we had huge airport to navigate. It was a long walk to the Hertz rental car area, 12:30 by the time we arrived. The girls were still in high spirits, despite not having slept at all! They grew weary of their backpacks, but carried them nonetheless.
The line at Hertz took soooo long. Darin and the girls waited and their exhaustion and commotion grew and grew. Finally we got our contract and got to go choose our "economy compact" car. We were expecting a Kia, but the only cars left were nice little Toyota Priuses, one in bright blue, so Polly was in heaven, her very favorite color. It felt meant to be.
We arrived at Darin's aunt Annette's house in Troy, Texas, at 2:30 a.m. Annette and Mike sold their home in the bay area, Newark, CA, last year and bought this beautiful five acre ranch with an adjoining guest house and music studio in the middle of Texas for half the price. Grandma DeeDee came with them.
It was super windy out and after all that traveling, the night felt dramatic. Driving down the dark, lush green Texas roads, enveloped on either side by low lying brush and pecan trees reaching out, creeping up onto the road, I felt like we were in the movie Tree of Life. Wind blowing, stars twinkling, crickets humming, everything felt a little bit darkly magical, nostalgic, and so alive. It is a feeling I never captured in a photograph and I can hardly put into words. Anyway, we punched in the gate code and turned down their long, tree lined driveway in the dark. White solar lights twinkled around every tree, showing us the way. We parked in the wide drive, wrapped the girls in their blankets, and entered through the garage, waking Annette in the process, who showed us around and showed us our room.
Dave and Ashley and the boys, Jackson and Sam, were staying in the guest house, and what a joy it was to all wake up together in the morning! Annette had fruit and pastries for everyone, and the kids had baskets of little toys like bug catching kits, sunglasses, plastic ponies, and cowboy hats, picked out by their cousin Mackie, Annette's 11 year old daughter, who likes to consider herself the kids' big sister.
Busy Texas mornings:
Along with the already crazy winds, a downpour started that we could hardly believe! Each raindrop seems as big as your finger, and they all come at once, buckets of rain, bathtubs of rain, all hammering down on everything at once like a flood out of the clouds. It was a fairly warm rain too; everyone else was staying in, but I kind of wanted to go outside and play in it, while the girls wanted to capture the beetles flailing on their backs.
The coolest thing about those Texas afternoons is how the rain comes pouring down and washes everything clean and then immediately the sun comes out, hot and bright, and dries it all, leaving the patio smooth and clean under your barefeet, the grass refreshed, and the birds singing.
We headed to Waco after the rains to check out the everybody's favorite couple's pet project, Magnolia at the Silos. It's just as fun and busy as it looks.
The best thing about it is how it's situated around a large green "grassy" area for the kids to run and play. There are footballs, cornhole, lounging beanbags, wide plank swings, balls, and games. We got smoothies and watermelons and settled in for a while!
The train rumbles right on by, and you can see downtown Waco just a few blocks away.
Ashley and I snuck away to go in the shop. It's totally beautiful, and really not at pricey as you might think, but the line is incredibly long, so I bought souvenirs for my mom and sister (who were jealous I was there) at the garden shop (Magnolia Seed and Supply) instead.
The kids loved playing on the toadstools in the little garden teepee.
Back at Annette's the sun was out, Mackie was home from school and done with her homework, and Darin's youngest brother Sinjin and his three road-tripping friends had arrived. Party in full effect! Shiners all around. Mackie was driving everyone around in the dune buggies and golf carts. Later, the road trippers stayed up late into the night running wild, shooting off bottlerockets, up to all kinds of Texan mischief. 'Merica!
Buddy the dog was so sweet to mellowly accommodate this wild bunch the whole time.
This little gal is a recent rescue named Millie. I didn't get a good portrait of Penny, but they run around like spunky sisters all the time.
Fireworks every Texas night. The girls' first sparklers! Polly was brave, but Lucy wasn't so sure.
The family has two golf carts for roaming around their five acres. Every kid in Texas gets to practice driving young, Darin says.
The next day we spent almost completely out in Hubbard, which I'll write about tomorrow, but here are some more pictures from Annette's house in Troy the next night. We had a memorial bonfire in celebration of Debby. She had spent almost two months there last year with Annette after they moved DeeDee out, helping her mom settle in, and everyone says Debby's favorite thing to do during that time, even though it was summer, was to make a fire at night and sit out by the fire pit. Mike and Annette had a commemorative stone engraved and we all did sparklers with cousin Kevin around the fire.
Cousin Kevin used to play football for Baylor and has a hearty Texan accent, a real hoot to hang out with.
By the way, don't go barefoot around sparklers. I totally blistered the bottom on my foot stepping on some bit of hot castoff.
Our last morning in Troy, Sunday morning, Annette made pancakes on the outdoor grill. Meanwhile, the kids were still catching bugs enthusiastically and running from the horses on one side of the property to the cows on the other, throwing the toy airplane glider, drawing with chalk on the patio, catching rides with Mackie on the golf carts, and never wanting to leave.
What a wonderful treat it was to stay with Annette and the family in Troy.
I'll be back tomorrow with more on Hubbard and the historic family homes there.
After that, a final post on our time in Austin.
See y'all soon!