Once upon a time I lived in Alaska and worked at a small public radio and TV station. I always said it was the most fun job I’d ever had. All of our management staff were female and we liked it that way! We did a lot in the community and had a great time doing it (mostly).
Our former news director, Anne, moved to Anchorage with her wife Jeanette, and continued to cover the news with Alaska Public Radio Network. Our former TV director, Pipa, moved to the Seattle area with her husband and kids and continued to work in TV for the city of Everett WA. We have stayed in touch and have seen each other a few times over the years since we all moved on. Recently Anne quit her job and decided to ride a recumbent bike across the country…just for fun. When I heard she was doing this, I asked her if she was coming through Dallas as we could put her up for a night or a few nights and would love to see her. At the time she wasn’t sure of her route but eventually it became clear she was not coming to Dallas but the closest point to us would be Austin. She would be there Easter weekend, which actually worked out fine because my kids were all committed to in-laws or work for Easter. Anne asked Pipa if she wanted to fly in and meet us in Austin but Pipa couldn’t find a cheap enough flight. Rich happened to have some Alaska Air miles left and volunteered them to Pipa. We checked on flights to Austin and Dallas and Dallas was enough cheaper to make it worthwhile. Plus I had the ulterior motive of having company on the road trip to Austin. We got Pipa a one way ticket and she bought the other one. She flew in at noon the Friday before Easter, I picked her up at DFW, and off we went to Austin, messaging Anne along the way to find out where she was and when she’d be in the city.
I have heard people talk about Chip and Joanna Gaines and their Magnolia Market in Waco, and I know a few who are crazy about them, but I have to admit that I have never watched their show and know nothing about the phenomenon except a vague awareness that they have a huge fan base. Apparently that fan base includes my friend Pipa so I agreed we would stop in Waco since it was right on the way. We found the market pretty easily and parked a few blocks away because it was packed. Walked over and the line for the bakery was 20 minutes long. They did have food trucks in the courtyard so we both found some lunch and sat down in the sunshine at some picnic tables with other folks making their pilgrimage from all over. A husband and wife were there from Birmingham AL and two women across from us with babies in strollers were from the DFW area. When I said I didn’t really know what the hype was all about, they were incredulous and asked me where I had been. haha Anyhoooo, I can see where it is a “thing” and we did wander through the store which was interesting and had some cute stuff. Then back on the road to Austin!
Anne had stopped at a recumbent bike store to get repairs so we drove there to find her next door at the Goodwill Store trying on some pants for her trip. After hugs all around, we helped her fold up her bike and put it in the back of my car, then continued to our hotel on the south end of Austin. Anne was anxious to get a shower so we all relaxed for a bit and then went out to dinner at a great Ethiopian restaurant we found. They wanted to see the bat flight from the bridge over the river but we got there too late so we stopped for some frozen custard, then for some churros, because….why not?!
The next day we went out for breakfast tacos, then drove to an outdoor market, parked the car in a garage around 10 AM and didn’t stop walking till 9 that night. We had a lot of fun wandering the streets, just accidentally found an Easter dog parade which was a hoot, looked in some funky stores, had a cupcake, walked the trail alongside the river for miles, crossed over to the other side to find a portopotty, examined a wild sculpture, had some crepes, eventually walked back to the car and moved it closer to the bat bridge while charging up my phone which had already died. I managed to keep up with these youngsters in their 30s and 40s but my hips and feet were pretty dang tired by the end of the night. The culmination of our day was watching thousands of bats fly out of the Congress St. Bridge–quite an amazing sight. We also talked with a volunteer from a bat rescue organization who had a pregnant female bat in his hand. She had been rehabbed after being injured and he let us watch her release her back into the night. Pretty cool!
On our last morning we went to Lucy’s for chicken and waffles (Pipa and me) and something vegetarian (Anne). Poor Anne ordered some chili fries which she thought meant “chilis” as in peppers so she was a little taken aback when the server brought her fries covered in chili. So she had to regroup and order grits and sweet potatoes. After brunch, we moved Anne to a different hotel to spend one more night, then dropped her and her bike at REI so she could get some additional supplies.
We really had a wonderful time, everyone got along great, and we kinda picked back up right where we left off in Alaska. It was so great to talk and laugh and reminisce about the old days while catching up on everyone’s news. I was so happy to see these gals! After leaving Anne, Pipa and I drove back to Dallas with a pit stop at Buc-ees, a Texas tradition, to use the potty and pick up some fudge and nuts. 🙂 We got back home that evening and Rich made his famous fish tacos for dinner.
Pipa’s son was very interested in Whataburger, which doesn’t exist in WA. We decided to go to Whataburger here and buy a few for her to take home to her family. Put them in the fridge overnight and sealed them in baggies the next morning. We got up at 5:30 AM and left the house at 6 to take her to Love Field for her flight home…yawn…! She had no issues getting home and went straight to work–now that’s dedication. That night she sent me a pic of her boys trying the burgers. The only bad thing was that the bacon cheeseburger only had bacon and veggies on it. NO BURGER!! How can that be?? I was so annoyed and wished we had unwrapped them the night before. Of course they were very disappointed and I am going to call the manager and have a little chat about it. I still just can’t imagine how a burger place would not put a burger on a burger. I guess Pipa and her family are just going to have to come to Texas and try again!