March 27 – April 10, 2017
After a little “Duck Commander” time in West Monroe, LA, we headed to Texas. For some reason, my extended family is drawn to this state. Aunt and uncle, cousins, both of my siblings, brother-in-law, grandfather, snow birding parents, and shirttail relatives to boot have all lived in the Lone Star State. Some of these connections have given us ample opportunity to explore Texas in the past. So, this time we only desired to explore Waco, Texas, and enjoy visiting with my brother and his family.
“Fixer Upper” with Chip and Joanna Gaines not only entertained us with Chip’s playful antics, but we admired their example of a loving marriage and family as Christians. Knowing they opened up Magnolia Market in Waco, we had to stop by just to check it out. We were pleasantly surprised to see how they structured this furniture store. This was no longer just a shopping experience for household decor, but a true destination that families can all enjoy for the day.
Because we were just passing through on our way south, we had our 42 foot fifth wheel in tow behind our chevy one ton dually. This duo is around 70 feet long, very close to the width and length of a semi truck. As a result, parking can sometimes become a little more cumbersome. As we approached the Magnolia Market, I saw cars lining the street, lines of people standing around, and a pay parking lot packed with cars in the downtown area. Oh boy, I did not realize this place would be THAT popular. Fortunately, we turned down a side road, crossed some railroad tracks and found nearly a block of empty parking space next to a vacant lot. We quickly took the spot and walked back the couple of blocks to investigate the action. We later saw a sign for free parking on the other side of the market, for those who would come with just their cars.
We walked towards the front of the conglomeration of buildings to discover people were standing in line for bakery goods. Phew! We did not have to wait to enter the store itself. A police officer stood watch over the busy-ness of the people at the front metal archway. We walked through and up some steps where we were cheerfully welcomed by store personnel. A fresh linen scent greeted us as we stepped into Magnolia Market. All of the ideas Joanna staged in the renovated homes came alive inside the store. White flowers, tin buckets, shiplap, chalkboards, candlesticks, and more. Chip even had his own section featuring jerky, clothing, and carpenters’ pencils.
Though it was fun to walk through the market, I was most impressed with how they designed the outside area. They had an astroturf lawn with comfy beanbag-looking lounge chairs. Swings, balls, and frisbees were all available to use. People had easy access to both the shaded picnic tables and the food truck vendors surrounding the perimeter. I could totally envision a mom and her friends shopping and then rewarding the kids with a fun, play-filled afternoon.
The next day, we headed over to Homestead Heritage in Waco. This is a grouping of craftsman businesses linked together through a particular conservative Christian church. We watched and asked questions of the people as they created their fine handcrafted wares. The boys saw how bases were attached onto clay goblets spinning on the potter’s wheel and learned about blacksmithing techniques. I inquired about the pine needle basket sewing and was fascinated to watch shuttles swiftly glide down the loom for making decorative cloth. Wicker baskets, quilts, honey and cheese. Hand-tooled bedroom furniture, produce grown with aquaponics, heirloom seeds, and chicks. All of the products were for sale and most was made on site. We spent the bulk of the day walking from store to store along the picturesque path.
The rest of the time was spent reconnecting with my brother and his family. I especially enjoyed deepening my friendship with my sister-in-law. Living so far away from them, we only see each other one to two times a year, if we are lucky. This time together, we heard fascinating stories of their recent trip back to visit her family in Philippines and their cultural experiences over there. We were also able to share stories about our travels to them as well.
Besides the pleasant reconnecting time, we enjoyed campfires, hikes, and a trip to the museums at Fort Hood. This fort was the highest security place we have been on yet in our travels. All of the adults had to show the personnel at the visitor’s center our photo ID’s, picture of our license plate, and proof of insurance card. We then had to wait for around 15 minutes while they performed background checks. Once we passed we were given a slip of paper, complete with an official seal, to keep on us while we walked around. The museums were housed in several different buildings with additional military equipment displayed outside as well. The topics brought out specific missions in history where the troops from this base were used along with history of various wars.
After the few days were over, we had to say farewell and carry on with our travels. However, we are left with wonderful memories that will remain with us – Magnolia Market, Homestead Heritage, and time with my brother’s family.
Until we meet again,