If you follow me on my socials (and you should! links on the sidebar –>) then you know that I’ve been otherwise distracted lately. After college I moved home with my parents for grad school. After three years of graduate school, I was still at home with my parents. So, I made the very difficult and very risky decision to move. I moved pretty far away–from Northern Virginia, where I’ve lived pretty much my entire life–to Texas, Austin to be exact. But I didn’t move too far from home; I moved in with my brother.
Earlier this year I went to visit my brother in Austin and loved it! In fact, you can read all about my trip right here on the blog. But when I was considering moving, Texas wasn’t exactly my first choice. So, then why’d you go there, silly girl? Well, because my brother offered to let me move in with him while I try and get my life going. That’s the thing about my family. They would do–and have done–everything for me. They are my rock and that’s why I love them (among other reasons, obvi). So, while it was a leap to leave the nest with only a partial plan in mind, I knew I was safe to jump as long as there was family there to catch me. And there always is for me.
But now here I am, sitting in the coffee shop where my brother works, reflecting on a crazy last week. I still can’t believe I’m here in Texas where the heat is hot but the vibe is hella cool. I’m not quite used to the idea yet, nor am I fully settled in yet. But that’s neither here nor there. I’m here today to tell you all about the crazy adventure that’s been this last week, including a 23-hour drive, a hurricane, and a trip to Waco, TX.
The long drive to a new home
When I decided to move to Texas, obviously I needed to take my car with me. So my parents and I decided that it made the most sense to drive together rather than rent a trailer and hitch. Between two cars and three drivers, we decided we would split the drive evenly.
It takes 22 hours to drive from Northern Virginia to Austin, TX. The halfway point is somewhere near Memphis, TN–a mere 12 hours in. So, we decided we’d stop every four hours and switch drivers. Each person would drive a total of 8 hours that first day–8 straight away and 4 hours to rest, 4 hours to rest and 8 to finish, or 4-4-4 of drive, rest and drive respectively. I got the latter shift. It seemed great…in theory.
Here’s what we didn’t plan on:
- You may want to drive 4 hours straight, but that doesn’t mean that your car’s gas can make it that long. Turns out we ended up stopping for gas in between our stops to change drivers, so we stopped a few times more than we thought we would.
- This one was the true killer. Did you guys know that the time change between EST and CST happens somewhere in Tennessee? Well, we didn’t think about that at all. When I got in for my last supposedly 4 hour shift, the GPS said we still had 5 hours and 27 min left! What happened?! I thought. And then we realized that the drive was actually 13 hours because we jumped an hour back halfway through Tennessee. UGH! Nevertheless I sucked it up as best as I could and rode out my last few hours.
- Lastly, we didn’t really think about traffic. When we rolled up to Nashville it was right around rush hour. So, like any big city, we got stuck in quite a bit of traffic, which we also encountered near Memphis as well. Another traffic killer? Construction. Here’s a tip: if your GPS re-routes you to divert from a 20-min traffic jam, take it. We didn’t and it cost us a half an hour.
The second day was way easier. We only drove 8 hours before stopping in Waco, TX, which I talk more about below. On the third day we drove the rest of the way to Austin–just two more hours. But that wasn’t the best drive either! Not gonna lie, a lot about this road trip was rough.
But the drive wasn’t all bad either…
All things considered, I had loads of fun! The worst part of driving was being alone in the car for all the traffic. When I was with my mom (because of our shifts, my dad and I were never in a car together) I had a great time!
But the most fun thing were the walkie talkies! A few weeks before leaving, I had the idea that we should get walkies for the drive. I figured that one person would always be alone in a car, so they’d struggle to communicate while navigating and driving. I also figured that with us driving through some pretty remote parts of the south, we could lose service easily. Turns out I was right. They were super useful for communication. BUT they were also REALLY FUN!! I learned radio lingo and enjoyed using it to joke around with my parents.
We also discovered new parts of the country that I hadn’t seen yet. When we were kids we always took long road trips to get anywhere in country. So road trips aren’t new to me. But we always traveled the east coast. The farthest west we went was to Chicago to visit relatives. This was the first time I saw the true south (NoVA is not the south) and experienced new states I’d never really seen.
Road trip highlight
If you’re driving to Texas from the east coast, stop at Chester’s Chicken off of exit 46 on I-40 W. This Chester’s is attached to a gas station, which is why we stopped there. We were loading gas, changing drivers, and my mom happened to see they were also selling fried chicken. It was lunchtime so we figured, why not?
It was the best fried chicken I’ve ever had in my life! I met so many people who came out of their way to get this chicken–in a remote part of Arkansas! It was crunchy and perfectly crispy on the outside. On the inside it was lusciously juicy. Inside and out, you could taste the spices in the batter, and that extra kick of spicy in every bite was so satisfying. Turns out, they do make the best fried chicken in the south! You just have to look for it.
Parts of the drive on the first day were rough. Driving 13 hours was hard. But it was nothing compared to driving a few hours during a massive hurricane. We didn’t know there was a hurricane coming when we started the trip. In fact, we were in Tennessee when we found out–literally on the road to Texas when we found out. At first it was just a casual thing like oh, there’s going to be a hurricane, but it’s not coming as far inland as Austin so you guys should be okay to drive. But the more we heard about it, the scarier it sounded.
After our first day driving, we stopped at a hotel in Memphis. The news kept getting more and more–what seemed to be–dramatic about the impending storm. I kept hearing things like the worst storm to hit the gulf in years or worse than Katrina or even if you can avoid Texas today, you should! Obviously, that worried me. But it did look like were just going to be driving through some rain. Granted, heavy rain, but nothing our cars couldn’t handle. By the morning I was hearing that if you weren’t going to evacuate the danger zones you should write your SSN and names on your arms for those people who will come find your bodies afterward. (Not a joke. I actually read that somewhere).
We were coming in from the north (Dallas/Waco). It seemed like we were staying out of the path of the storm. But we tracked its movements anyways. We spent most of the third day of travel in Waco (more later) before finally heading down to Austin. It rained the entire day, but we didn’t truly feel the effects of the storm until we got closer to the Austin area. Mostly it was just a bad, bad storm. Horrible rains, and even worse winds. All of our umbrellas broke under the weather conditions. We got to my new house just in time to settle in for the next two days while the worst of the storm passed.
The rain was bad in Austin, for sure. At one point a car sprayed a literal wave of water over our windshield and we had to stop mid-road because we couldn’t see anything. But it was nothing compared to what others in Texas endured that day. My deep thoughts and prayers to those devastated by the storm. Texas is my new home, and my heart goes out to all of you. Please find a way to help the affected areas in some way. Click the pics in this and the above section for some donation links. With time, prayers and a lot of love and help, we will all get through this.
Our side trip to Waco, Texas
My parents and I are avid HGTV watchers, and Fixer Upper is one of our favorite shows. If you’re not a fan (what’s wrong with you?!) the show follows husband-wife team Chip and Joanna Gaines as they renovate fixer uppers throughout the Waco area. So when we found out that Waco was right on our route to Austin, we had to stop there for a side trip. At first we thought we’d just pass through during our second day of 12-hour driving. But last minute we opted to spend the night in Waco on our second day and then spend all of the next day exploring the town before finally heading to Austin–just two hours away. I’m so glad we did because we didn’t feel pressured or rushed to get out of Waco! We actually had time to enjoy our visit. And boy did we!
A few years ago, Chip and Jo expanded their renovation business to The Silos. They purchased two old silos in the center of town that came with a warehouse, some land, and other small buildings. They fixed it up and opened it to the public. There you can lounge on the lawn, eat at one of the various food trucks, explore the garden area and seed house, eat at Joanna’s bakery, or shop in their marketplace! It’s a mecca for all things Gaines-related and a Fixer Upper fan’s dream!
We did everything we could there! Even though it was raining, the place was packed! We waded through the crowds and storm to get to the bakery where we had a few of Jo’s cupcakes. We sat in the courtyard and watched kids play on the lawn and in the rain. Then we went to the Magnolia Seed + Supply store in the garden and looked at some plants. I have no green thumb so I made no purchases, but it was still quite beautiful!
Then we spent the next few hours (and you need a few to get through it) in Magnolia Marketplace. Here, you’ll find some of the decor pieces they put in the homes they renovate, as well as some from their furniture and bedding lines.
Since I was moving, I was quite eager to get something to add a little Fixer Upper touch to my new home! Word of warning: If you’re like me and you just love that farmhouse style, it will be easy for you to go crazy in a place like this. I had to remind myself several times that I couldn’t actually afford all of the things that I wanted–aka almost the whole store. I ended up buying a shirt, vase and fake flower arrangement (again, no green thumb). It is quite pricey here, so watch your wallet closely.
Even if you don’t buy something, the Silos are an experience like no other. I’m not sure how non-fans feel about it–or if they even care to go. But for me and my parents, it was an amazing little side trip. Had it not been for the weather and timing of everything, we would have done more exploring and antique shopping. But alas, there’s always next time. Until then, I’ll have to settle for the online market!
Austin: Home sweet home
It’s been about a week since I moved to Austin. Like I said, I’m not entirely used to it yet–the heat especially! I miss home at times. I miss my parents and my dog. But this was a choice that I had to make. At some point, you can either wait for your life to happen to you or you make the decision to move it forward yourself. I waited a long time before making that decision. And now here I am! I have four new roommates and am living in a brand new city.
Austin is great so far. I love the energy and vibe of this city. It’s young and hip and vibrant. Everything here is so new and different, and I’m excited to see more and get to know it better. Look out for some new posts about the area on the blog! I’m already finding some amazing places to eat that I’m all too excited to share with y’all! So stay tuned. My new life is just starting, and I can’t wait to share it with you.
But first, a shout out and a thank you.
My family is everything to me. No one in my life has done more for me than my OG squad–four amazing humans who never fail to surprise me with their generosity and love.
To my sister, your support was what I needed, that final push to make this decision. Although you’re farther now, I hold you closer than ever. You have always been there to support me, and I’m grateful for that. No matter how far we are, we’re there for each other.
To my brother, your support has never wavered. When I needed somewhere to go, you didn’t hesitate in opening your home to me. Having you near helps keep me grounded and safe. I will always be grateful for all that and more.
To my parents, I love you more than words. We weathered a hurricane and tremendously challenging road trip and move the way we tackle everything–together. Five years ago when I moved in with you, you said the words that held me up when I was at my lowest: we are a team. We’re in this together. Thank you. Please know, that no matter how far away I go, I still believe that. I miss you and I love you.