I arrived in Fort Worth on Sunday night and planted down with a local to weather the upcoming work week.

It was unimaginably magnificent to be treated to warm weather and blooming spring plants after leaving the frigid temperatures at home. The ability to walk the streets at night was not taken for granted by me. I was fortunate to have a local show me around town and suggest things to do, see, and eat.

Pretty much everyone I spoke with recommended I check out the Stockyards, a local attraction devoted to the stereotypical Western way of life. Of all the nights, I visited on a Monday evening and it was warm and lively, which was incredibly refreshing. Sitting on the grass and drinking a glass of wine while listening to live music is something I haven’t done in over a year. It felt more real than ever that we might be turning a corner on the pandemic.

True to the local area, as well, there were longhorn cattle, for tourists like myself to gawk at. I grabbed a pet of this giant, placid, albeit boogery beast.

And the food! While in Fort Worth, I had amazing tacos, greek food, and then tried Whataburger, which is something I’ve not had before. The burger was too big for me to finish, but it was phenomenal. The fries were great, and they have spicy ketchup (?!) which was really, really good.

Once my work week lightened up, I treated myself to a trip to the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens, a highly-rated local attraction that began as a Japanese garden that grew and expanded.

The day was relatively cool and windy (sorry East Coast peeps I am complaining that it was in the 50s as you were dealing with below-freezing temps) so I bundled up to check out the blossoming and blooming spring plants.

The Japanese garden was beautiful and carefully curated.

After this, I made the trip East into Dallas, to visit sights like the JFK memorial and the Dallas art museum.

But first, I checked out a BBQ place that had been highly recommended, Slow Bone. The food was great; I had meant to stop for BBQ earlier in the trip but hadn’t found the right time or place.

Before stopping at the art museum, I took a walk around Klyde Warren Park, an urban park in the heart of downtown Dallas. People were laughing, kids were screaming, and folks were ordering from the line of food trucks en masse. Truly a gorgeous day.

The art museum was wonderful — offering free parking and free admission, there were many exhibits to see.

Another thing worth mentioning thus far about this trip is the continual feeling I have of being shocked that there’s parking in all these urban spaces. I have grown to associate cities with Philadelphia, or worse even, New York City in terms of parking. Even my suburban area has less readily-available parking than I am finding in major cities here — and it’s cheaper to park here, if I even have to at all!

I took it all in at the art museum, and saw the exhibits on all four floors before departing to travel south to Waco, Texas.

Waco is an interesting place — I had heard of it before and wasn’t quite sure why — it seems a major part of its history is a siege or massacre wherein US law enforcement attacked a local religious sect’s compound. Even so, the sole thing that was recommended to me in Waco was their Dr. Pepper museum. So, I checked it out. Not a big soda aficionado but I take these recommendations seriously.

Someone in the museum also recommended I make the trip over to Magnolia’s, a place featured on HGTV (?) — I walked over, as it was close, but chose not to enter because it was so freaking crowded.

After this, I traveled southward to see the sun set over a lake outside of Austin, Texas — but disappointingly, found the road to get there was closed. Whatever, setbacks happen. I took this opportunity to travel to Austin, where I’m sitting now at the Kerbey Lane Cafe, sipping a chamomile tea, to check in about my trip! I can’t wait to sleep; I need a break before checking out everything that Austin has to offer.