Rebecca and I are now in our new home in Austin, Texas! After a week of travel we arrived on Sunday with our motorhome still intact. We enjoyed our trip, filled with friends, family, and new places. Though before blogging about Austin, I wanted to share some of the highlights of our trip.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, we left Alliance, Ohio on Halloween morning. We made the 4 hour trek to northern Kentucky to visit our friends we know from undergrad. Rebecca and I participated in our very first ever Halloween by handing out candy to trick-or-treaters. We both grew up celebrating “alternative” halloweens, often called “fall festivals,” as a way to avoid what some christian churches considered satanic practices. As I often joke: I never went trick-or-treating, instead I dressed up in costume and went from booth to booth at my church collecting candy–see the difference? Apparently, if you dress up as a bible character on October 31st and collect candy at a church without saying the demonic phrase “trick-or-treat,” you somehow aren’t really doing Halloween… for a humorous musing on this practice of not-Halloween, see the post on the blog Doxxa entitled Stuff Christians Like #7: Halloween Alternative Parties.
So, I was eager and, to be honest, a little anxious as I sat outside with a Cincinnati Bengals jacket waiting for the ghouls, goblins, zombies, football players, stormtroopers, princesses, and, of course, ladybugs to come. As they did, I relaxed into what would be a thoroughly enjoyable evening! I playfully handed out candy to the many children (and several high schoolers) who came my way. Of special note, when a Texas Longhorn football player requested candy from me, I jokingly through it off the driveway and told him I didn’t offer candy to Big 12 schools. I then threw a few more pieces his way as he walked off confused but candy rich. You might not be surprised to learn that I also used a variety of voices and personalities to mimic the costumes I encountered–its true, I can be a real goofball. Case in point, my favorite gimmick was shouting “Merry Christmas” at the middle schoolers who were otherwise numb-faced as they walked up and shoved their baskets in front of me. I wasn’t sure if they were just “too cool” or embarrassed that mom made them go trick-or-treating.
It was a chilly evening, and Rebecca was frozen the whole night (as the following picture attests–we were all wearing jackets even when we came inside and Rebecca wore a blanket around her torso for the rest of the night).
We had a good hunch that our chilly beginning to our journey would end markedly different. When I checked the weather that night, it was 90 in Texas!
The next morning, Rebecca and I drove a whopping one hour to Lexington, Kentucky. We visited and explored the city we will return to in March for Rebecca’s next optometry rotation. We dropped off some goods at our storage facility (lightening the load of our over-packed “Mitsubishi motorhome”), and then spent the evening with Kory and his family. Kory pastors a church in Lexington and preached at my ordination service. It was wonderful to see him and his family again. We enjoyed an intense and laughter-filled game of Uno. His daughter, Molly, was (and remains) the Uno champion of the Universe–I lost big time.
The following day we drove, yet again, a meager one hour to Louisville, Kentucky. There we enjoyed the day and night with my family. We dined with my parents, my brother Phillip, and his wife Shannon. Phillip and Shannon graciously offered there apartment for us to slumber–and slumber we did knowing the next legs of our journey would be longer and the wear of travel would mount.
So, after two (very, very) short trips in two days within one state, we ventured across southern Indiana and central Illinois in only one day. The trip to St. Louis, Missouri was about 5-6 hours from Louisville, though we stopped periodically and took our time driving. Once in St. Louis, we visited one of Rebecca’s friend Andria from childhood and high school and her husband, Adam. We spent the following day with Andria as she showed us the sites and sounds of “the Lou.” We toured the Anheuser-Busch headquarters and brewery where we met two Harrier jet pilots in the Marines–great guys who were passing through to return to their homes in North Carolina. Before heading back to Andria’s, we witnessed the majesty of the Gateway Arch.
The next day we departed on a 6 hour drive to Tulsa, Oklahoma. Before reaching the border of Missouri, we decided to make a spur of the moment detour to Carthage, just off the interstate. There we visited the Precious Moments Museum and Chapel. I had read about the chapel in a book by Frank Burch Brown, Good Taste, Bad Taste, and Christian Taste: Aesthetics in Religious Life (Oxford Univ. Press, 2000). It was in his book I was introduced to the word kitsch. He proceeded to illustrate the debates surrounding kitsch with the example of the Precious Moments Chapel. So I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I knew I needed a break from driving and the (de)tour was free to the public. Here is some of what we saw:
I’ll save my reflections on this experience for another time. Nevertheless it was interesting and we were able to stretch our legs some. We returned to the car and headed to Oklahoma. Rebecca had never been to the sooner state, and so we were determined to document our arrival.
Though we were not able to do much in Tulsa due to the timing of our arrival, we did enjoy the new landscape and environment we encountered in Oklahoma. There was a sudden shift out of the Ozarks of Missouri into the cattle-saturated ranches of Oklahoma.
On day 6 of our travels we entered the great state of Texas. One of our running games since visiting Philadelphia many weeks back was identifying and shouting “star” for every Americana star decoration we see on a house or building. Entering the Lone Star state intensified this game exponentially.
(Picture coming soon!)
We didn’t make it all the way to Austin from Tulsa on day 6. Instead we stopped off at Fort Worth for the night. We stayed with one of Rebecca’s colleagues from ICO, Meghan, who was also headed to Austin to join Rebecca for the winter rotation. Meghan’s family lives in Ft. Worth, so we enjoyed their generous hospitality, including a great dinner at Joe T’s. After dinner we went down to the stockyards to see the cowboy night life, only to stumble onto a rodeo. I had to hoist Rebecca onto my shoulders to witness the events, but she was able to peer into the arena and see some of the action.
Finally, on day 7 of the long road to Austin, we headed for our new home. After a short 3 hour drive (or so), we entered the northern suburbs of the capital city. Rebecca was due at her new site the following morning at 9am, so we spent the evening unpacking and preparing for the week ahead.
The extended stay hotel accomodations suit us well enough. We are close to Rebecca’s optometry site and right next to public transportation into the city. Soon, I’ll share more about what we experience and discover in this great city!
As Rebecca and I reflected on our travels together, we realized that we had experienced an entire week of sunshine. The weather was just perfect for us to drink in the varied and beautiful landscape of the midwest, great plains, and Texas (it’s big, it kind of get’s its own category…).