Traveling to Texas

An ad for Chip and Joanna Gaines’ “Fixer-Upper” show in Waco, Texas flicked across the screen. “I want to go see the Magnolia Silo someday,” hubby said.

“Okay. Let’s go this week,” I opened my computer and googled distances. “We could also go to the Dinosaur State Park. You want to see the footprints in the rocks. It’s an hour west of Waco.”

His face lit up at the mention of another item on his bucket list. He opened a hotel reservation website and began comparing prices.

Wednesday morning we found a parking spot near the bakery beside Magnolia Market at the Silos and purchased a breakfast cookie to eat outside on the patio of cement and artificial turf. The Gaines like artificial turf. It even covers the child-sized baseball field surrounded by food trucks. Artificial turf maintains the image of a perfectly-trimmed village green between the small shops and the quaint chapel Joanna had disassembled and moved to the site.

Inside the shops, I found perfectly matched and balanced color schemes in neutral colors. The furniture layouts feature perfectly coordinated 1960s hues of hospital green, grey and tan with books wrapped in papers of the same colors on the shelves. Obviously, the shop is not a bibliophile’s dream living room arrangement.  I pierced the sterile setting and pulled books off the shelf, opened them to read the titles and glance at the contents. 

Because we visited the week after summer vacation ended, we only had a 15 minute wait for seats at Magnolia Table. The gourmet dishes looked and tasted delightful. A perfect way to check off another item on the bucket list.

We left the Magnolia complex to visit the Waco Mammoth Excavation site. The flood that buried the mammoths and other animals eons ago left a jumble of bones for archeologists to carefully scrape, brush and remove. I stood on a balcony overlooking the mammoth tusks attached to the skull. I tried to conceptualize the mammoth’s legs, possibly buried 16 feet below. There were giants in the land, in those days. The park guide said archeologists anticipated more mammoths buried all around us in graves yet to be discovered. The first bones of this nursery herd appeared in 1978. Subsequent excavations found bones for a Western camel, alligator, giant tortoise and saber-toothed cat. So many stories yet to be uncovered.

The next morning we took a path rarely traveled east of Waco and drove by the vast fields and one-room chapel built where the Branch Davidian compound stood before the 1993 encounter between the cult and the FBI and ATF. Only a small memorial wall hints at the story where the 80 Branch Davidian members and four federal agents died during the siege. Wikipedia filled in the details of the cult’s activities, leaders and its current decline.

My husband wanted to visit one other place before we headed home: Dinosaur State Park and the nearby Creation Museum in Glen Rose, Texas. The park guide directed us to the footprints in the stone. He warned us, “It has rained, so the water is muddy and you can’t see much.” We drove to the river. My husband walked down to the water, studied the rocks and declared he had found a footprint beside the water. The museum displayed molds of the prints for anything we missed and a petrified tree whose shape had been pressed from round to oval during the catastrophic flood that wiped out the mammoths and other animals.

With our daily science lesson complete, we stopped at an estate sale with a financial lesson. The estate sale’s staff said the two year old house recently sold for two million dollars. The previous owner used to drive a Ferrari and now drives a Mercedes. The sale offered appliances, furniture and pre-school children’s clothing and toys, including 27 different train themed toys. 

The ride home after checking off those bucket list items, we spent reviewing all we had seen and realized anew how dramatically life can change, disappear even and yet leave its mark for the ages to come. Flood, fire, financial ruin and paint can leave indelible marks on the landscape and lives of those around us.