Let’s just say that I’m not usually a fan of road trips.
I have never been a really good car rider. Honestly, just ask my family. Growing up, my dad was of the school of “Never Stop Until You Absolutely Have To.” He may say this is an exaggeration, but I swear we would have to ride in the car for hours on end without stops for the bathroom or stretching our legs or anything and we would only get the food Mom had packed for the ride. Not to mention that there were four of us kids and we sometimes even had my grandparents along. People were loud. People were annoying. Let’s just say it made me cranky.
There is a story from my family’s lore that goes a little something like this. We were driving home to Illinois from a vacation to Disney World. I had to go to the bathroom. Dad wouldn’t stop. I kept getting crankier and crankier. Basically, no one wanted to talk to me. Finally, they convinced Dad to stop at a rest area. It must’ve been a magical place because the evil-tongued hag I was when I went into the restroom disappeared. I came out basically floating on a cloud of sunshine and rainbows. Should I mention I was 18 years old at the time, or would that just be embarrassing?
You can see that I’ve really grown in the last 20-some-odd years, yes?
Flying With the Kiddos
When we found out that my cousin would be flying back from France with her brand new husband to have their marriage blessed in front of their American family and friends, Greg and I knew we wanted to be a part of the fun. But, if we were going to fly all six of us out to Dallas, we couldn’t just stay for a weekend! There were so many wonderful things to do and see in Texas! I had been there many, many years ago (actually for this same cousin’s parents’ wedding!), but hadn’t been since. And Greg and the kids had never been. What a fantastic opportunity we were given to see a new part of the country and cross some must-sees off of our lists!
For us, flying Southwest was the way to go (not a paid statement, totally my own opinion). Free checked bags meant that we didn’t have six roller bags to worry about and everyone could carry their own backpack with ease. Open seating (and making sure I checked in on time) meant that we could divide ourselves up however we wanted and could all sit close to each other.
This wasn’t the first time we’d flown with all four kids, but I will say that it was definitely the easiest. Like I said, they can all carry their own stuff. If it doesn’t fit in their backpack, they don’t need it. Nobody needed a stroller and all of the big people were always making sure somebody had an eye or a hand on a little girl. We loaded up Kindles with movies (thank you technology!) for the kids and packed some coloring and sticker books for the girls. I loaded my bag up with snacks and we were good to go.
On the way to Texas, I shared a row with the girls and we had a lovely time…notice the happy smiles. On the way home, I shared a row with the boys. Suffice it to say that Josh was schooled in airplane etiquette after his octopus-like movements ticked me off for the last time…notice both of our exasperated faces.
Adventures in Central Texas
While our trip may not have started off in a grand and glorious fashion (read about our lousy experience here), we were able to move on and have a great time. Our road trip stretched all along I-35 from Dallas down to San Antonio, with stops in West, Waco, Salado, New Braunfels in between.
We were given the fabulous tip to stop at the Czech Stop and Little Czech Bakery in West, TX for some kolaches. I am SO glad we heeded that advice! It was about lunchtime when we got there, so we ordered a whole smorgasbord of different flavors and shared them all. We had savory ones with sausage or roast beef that were delicious. There were sweet ones filled with blueberries or Nutella or nuts and brown sugar. They were all divine!
Continuing on southward, our next stop was planned specially for our little Lucy. One of her absolute favorite TV shows is Fixer Upper and she just loves Chip and Joanna Gaines. So what else could we do but stop at the silos of Magnolia Market?! It was awesome! Tons of food trucks, picnic tables, and beautiful flowers. There was a giant play yard for kids and tasty popsicles to cool you down on a super hot day. Since we had just had sweets at lunch, and because the line was cuh-RAZY long, we skipped the bakery. Not to worry, though, the store got some of our money.
Life Is Better With Friends
When you find a friend that will love and accept you no matter what and will invite all six members of your family to stay at her house, KEEP THAT FRIEND!
The next stop on our trip was my dear friend Katie’s house. Katie and I have known each other our whole adult lives, it seems. We understand the busyness of motherhood and life in general. We can be totally ourselves with one another without judgement. And no matter how long it’s been since we last talked, we always pick right back up like no time had passed at all. We were both really excited to have our families spend some time together.
We took the kids to the skating rink, had some pool time, went out for amazing Mexican food, and the kids (and dads) played MarioKart until the wee hours. Our favorite day, though, was the absolutely perfect one we spent at Schlitterbahn! It was such a blessing for us to watch as our kids moved from being slightly wary of one another to really almost treating each other like cousins! Her big boys watched out for Lucy at the water park and there was teasing and trash talk aplenty among all the kids. It was a wonderful three days.
Remember the Alamo
Moving right along, we spent the next 36 hours doing a quick trip down to San Antonio. I mean, you can’t be that close to the Alamo and not take your kids there. Right?
To be honest, the Alamo was quite a bit smaller than I imagined it would be. But the kids really enjoyed the living history exhibits in the courtyard. We heard from a soldier about life in the camp and the necessary items to carry in your knapsack. Then a lovely wife showed us about some of the bare-bones food they had to survive on during the raid. Lastly, a swindling gambler taught us about how currency used to work and Lucy was the big winner in both cards and dice.
That same evening, we walked and cruised around the San Antonio Riverwalk. It was beautiful and cool (both literally and figuratively)! We highly recommend taking a walk around if you’re ever in the area.
Heading to a Wedding
The next morning, we started the five and a half hour trip back up to Dallas for my cousin’s wedding. We had a really lovely time hanging out with my aunts, uncles, and cousins. It was especially fun to see my kids fall so naturally into conversations and playtime with family they had never met (or didn’t remember).
Many congratulations and blessings to Haley and Michel as they head back to their life in France!!
Home Again, Home Again
It was a whirlwind week, but it was so much fun! I never thought I’d fly somewhere in order to take a road trip, but I really think it worked well for us. Most of our travel is centered around visiting family that lives far away, so this is a really neat way to introduce the kids to other parts of our country! We’re hoping to do this kind of trip again next summer when we take the kids to St. Louis for my dad’s family reunion. Who knows where we might go after that?!
Now, if only people would just leave me alone in the car and let me stop for the restroom whenever I want…