If you know me, you know I actually don't like rules. I mean, I follow them and I know most of them are good for me; I just don't like being put in a box. So, like the pirate code (parlay) in The Black Pearl, let's treat them more like guidelines.
So, here's our road trip code (ehem, guidelines):
Rule 1: Take a friend. Y'all, Texas roads are a lonely place, and when you travel there from Tennessee, you have to travel through Arkansas—trust me, it's worse. I was planning on doing this trip solo and meeting up with my parents, but as you read in my last post, that didn't happen. But my sweet best friend agreed to go with me. Who knows how many hours we spent in the car together on our round-trip trek through Tennessee and Texas?
Pro Tip: Make sure it's a good friend—a really good friend. You don't have to talk the whole time, but man does it make the miles go by faster when you spend time catching up, talking about life, and breaking it down to Backstreet Boys. I know you can't always take a friend (I promise I'll talk about that one of these days), but it's so much fun if you can!
Rule 2: Stop whenever you feel like it. Lynn and I knew where we were staying each night, but other than that? We did what we wanted, when we wanted. See something interesting on an exit sign? Chase after it. Want to experience the open countryside and big blue Texas sky? Drive some back roads. (Arkansas has some gorgeous mountain roads too!) If traffic is at a standstill and you’ve been on the road for a while, get off the road for a bit and get a snack or explore the amazing Bass Pro in Garland, Texas. (Just us?)
Rule 3: Plan around people and food. Seriously, Texas is beautiful, but I found there wasn't a lot to do in the eastern and mid-state areas. But, y’all, the Tex-Mex is legit. (Obviously.) I experienced a lot of good food over the course of my trip. Honestly, their BBQ is pretty great as well. Also, if you’re going to visit a friend, ask them to show you their favorite places and make requests for anything specific you want to do. My friend, Elizabeth took us to places and restaurants we loved and we weren’t disappointed with any of it. Of course, visiting with a friend you miss is also a huge win!
Rule 4: Ask the locals. Texas is rich in culture, so ask around if you want to experience it. The people, specifically in San Antonio, loved when we would ask them for recommendations. Most of the places we visited weren’t found through online searches, but through word of mouth from shop owners, waitresses, and baristas. We even met a wonderful, kind, encouraging woman named Carol through doing just that. I’m actually still in contact with her and love how God used this trip to bring her into my life.
Rule 5: Know what you’re getting into. Much of what we did while we traveled through Texas and Arkansas was best kept to a few hours. Hot Springs National park is great, but it’s smack dab in the middle of town. So, really, a couple of hours, Goat Rock Trail, and a National Parks passport stamp later—and we were ready to go. Also, as amazing as Chip and Joanna Gaines are, The Silos weren’t meant for an entire day. Unless you’re waiting in line for the bakery, souvenirs, or food trucks, you can walk the entire property in about 15-20 minutes. We only had one or two days in each place, and we found that time frame absolutely perfect for what we wanted to do.
Bonus: Also, Texas is hot. During the day, makeup is useless; ladies, tinted sunscreen is your friend. In general, sunscreen is your friend. The after 4 pm rule we used in North Carolina does not apply in Texas— not at all. It’s also a good idea to bring clothes for activities and nights out or one outfit for the morning and one for the evening. You will sweat and you will want to change at some point, trust me. Lynn and I both took two outfits per day, and each of us came back with only one clean shirt to spare.
There are several more things I could say about Texas and Arkansas, but you should experience both—they’re worth it. But I will leave you with a list of my favorite finds on this trip.
Hot Springs, Arkansas.
Rudy’s BBQ and Torchy’s Tacos are amazing. I’d suggest the Potato with Meat (choose from pork, turkey, or brisket; I had pork) at Rudy's and the Tipsy Chick at Torchy’s with a black cherry soda (The taco is a soft-shell with a blend of chicken, corn, lettuce, avocado, and a bourbon/honey sauce).
Baylor University’s campus is beautiful at night, particularly the bridge between the main section of campus and the stadium. Take a quick walk there, and maybe try to see the bears if they decide to wander outside. (Yes, they have real bears on campus. No, they aren’t roaming free—don’t worry.)
Cameron Park has several trails, and the one we chose took us right along the water. About halfway down, you can take a short detour onto a rock outcropping with a gorgeous view of the river.
Although I wouldn’t plan a trip around The Silos, they’re still worth the visit! The Silos provide food, a cooling shelter with a mist system (Trust me, this is important!), a garden, an open turf area for kids to play, the gift shop, and several amazing back drops for photos.
San Antonio, Texas.
Set aside some time to visit La Villita. Much like it sounds, it’s a small village of local artisan shops. This is where Lynn and I met our new friend, Carol, who encourage us and treated us with kindness. Be sure to visit her in the Spanish leather shop there if you go!
Casa Rio is the oldest restaurant of its kind on the Riverwalk. The outdoor seating is right by the river, where we watched baby ducks play in the water as we ate. It’s also a key location for people watching. If you go here, I’d recommend the chicken nachos with a nice helping of sour cream. This pairs well with the black cherry soda, which is one of my favorite brands: Stubborn. (No, this is not a metaphor for my life. I just love their sodas.)
The River Walk is the coolest and quickest way to get somewhere. It doesn’t hurt that it’s pretty and has a variety of food options.
I guess that’s about it. If you have any other questions or just want to say, “Hi,” please drop a comment or an email. I would love to hear from you!
See you soon!