Family Trip to Austin, Texas

One of the three places that truly feels like home is Austin, Texas. The other two are Las Vegas, Nevada and Orange County, California. I have lived in all three places, along with Colorado, but out of the four states that I lived in those three are the only ones that feel like home. Orange County, California will always be a part of me no matter what, but Austin, Texas and Las Vegas, Nevada are places that I left a piece of my heart in. I believe it’s important to go back and visit the places you feel connected to because those places are a part of you for a reason.

When I moved to Austin, Texas it was a very rocky time in my life. I was 25 years old, and it was just 9 months after I was attacked by “Dirty John.” I was still in so much shock. I didn’t know how to deal with my PTSD, let alone move on from a break up that left me heartbroken. Then I began to have family issues with one of my siblings. With everything feeling like it was about to break me, it was time to make some life changes and figure out how I could get better. 

My old apartment in Texas

One of my oldest sisters, who lived in Leander, Texas, took me in to live with her. She just had taken time off work and she offered for me to come there so I could heal. The timing was simply perfect! Whenever I notice something is perfect, I feel as if it’s an act from God. Everything was leading me to go to there, but I wasn’t quite ready. One day some more family drama happened, so I packed up my car full of stuff, put Cash in the car, and my mom and I drove to Texas to start a new chapter of my healing process. My mom realized how important this was for me and took time off work to make it happen. 

The day I arrived, I immediately got set up with a therapist that specializes in Trauma and EMDR therapy. I signed up for a Bouldering Membership so that I could have an outlet to make friends and use it as another source of therapy. I won’t go too much into detail about my time when I lived there, but let’s just say it was exactly what I needed. Living with my sister and her family for those months helped with my healing process an incredible amount. That time made me feel extremely connected to the city and now I feel as if it were still one of my homes.

The last time I went to Texas, I was so excited I could barely sit still in my seat on the flight there. I just couldn’t wait to soak up the atmosphere, see my family, and see some of the friends I made when I was living there. Did I mention the food?! The food is amazing in Austin, especially if you are a picky eater like me. There are SO many great restaurants. A lot of the same restaurants are in California, but then there’s BBQ and all around good American food places that are only in Austin! 

After getting off the plane in Austin, I had to get my rental car from the airport. When I used to travel to Austin, Texas I would always fly Southwest Airlines, but this time I flew Frontier. Frontier was one of the more affordable options, so I chose that one for this trip. Not ever flying Frontier before, I quickly learned that Southwest is a better airline. My flight was delayed and it took over an hour to get my checked bag. I strongly recommend flying Southwest after my experience with Frontier.

Right after I got off the plane and got my bags I had to rush to the meet my friend at a place called the Domain. The Domain is a huge outdoor shopping mall with lots of restaurants, entertainment places, bars, and retail stores. When I lived in Texas I would go out all the time to the Domain bars with Cash. So this time I decided to meet my friend at one of my favorite places called Kung Fu. 

Rushing to get there I realized that I hadn’t eaten much that day with all the traveling. Since one of my favorite restaurants was on Rock Rose at the Domain, we decided to meet at Velvet Taco before heading out to Kung Fu. Whenever I go to Velvet Taco I get the rotisserie chicken taco and queso dip. Any item you order on their menu is so good– and I’m a picky eater. The tacos are great for anyone wanting a simple but good taco. 

After scarfing down our tacos we headed over to Kung Fu. It was a pretty crowded night because it was winter break for a lot of college students. We grabbed one drink, watched a group of people play life sized Jenga, and then went on our way to the next spot. We ended up going to Punch Bowl Social, which was a quarter-mile walk from Kung Fu. Punch Bowl Social has bowling, cornhole, skee-ball, and many other great bar games. My friend and I hadn’t seen each other for over a year, so we were all about catching up.

After we chatted for a while, we decided it was time to head to my hotel and get checked-in. Luckily I was staying within walking distance from the bars, so I didn’t have to drive my car over to the hotel. Checking into the hotel was a breeze. I had booked and paid for the hotel through The hotel was called Lone Star Courts and had a great country western, antique vibe. The vibe was absolutely perfect for a trip to Austin, Texas! I highly recommend staying at this hotel.

The next day came and I was ready to go surprise my niece and nephews. My sister and brother-in-law knew I was coming, but it was fun to make it a surprise to the kids. It was just a few days after Christmas, so I had some presents for them. I was so excited. It had been a year since I had seen my Austin family. Also, my dad was there visiting and my mom was coming the next day, so it was going to be a great family vacation!

I got to the house and just walked right in the door. The kids were so excited but I think two of the three might’ve had an idea I was coming. We exchanged our Christmas presents and headed out the door to the barn to take care of the animals. They live in Leander, Texas, a little outside of Austin, Texas, where there’s more area for farms.

At the farm they have lots of chickens, a rooster, goats, an emu, a pot belly pig, a donkey, a couple of horses, a couple of barn cats, two dogs, a mini horse, and a foal. We had to do the evening feeding for all the animals, but because I was a visitor, I really only helped feed the horses. It was amazing to see all the animals there since all of them are so friendly and peaceful. My sister, dad, niece and nephews were all there, so it was great bonding with them and being surrounded by animals. All the animals were fed, and it was time to go to dinner before I had to pick up my mom from the airport.

Trying to think of a great place for the kids and somewhere that is not a restaurant chain in California, I thought Chuys! Chuys is a Tex-Mex restaurant chain that is very family friendly and has lot of great Tex-Mex food. It’s a very popular place, so there was a little bit of a wait, but it was well worth it. I ordered the kids tacos and nachos. I had to get two meals and take advantage of being there because it’s not often I go to Chuys. We finished eating and got the check. Then it was time to pick up my mom from the airport.

It took 45 minutes to drive to the airport from Chuys. My mom flew Frontier, so it was a breeze picking her up from the South Terminal. The great thing about staying at the hotel we were at was that without traffic, it took about 25 minutes to get to the airport. My mom was starving when she got in so we stopped by Velvet tacos and got her some tacos. It was one of her favorite places to eat at in Austin. After we ate, we went back to the hotel and settled down to sleep.

The next day we woke up around 10 AM to start getting ready for the day. I promised my nephews the previous day that I would get them the rest of their Christmas presents at Target, so we met at Target. My mom also got my niece and nephews some Christmas presents, so the kids were really excited. The boys picked out Lego sets and my niece picked out Our Generation doll accessories.

When we finished at Target, we had to think of what to do with the rest of our day. The temperature outside was in the mid 40’s, so we didn’t want to do any outside activities. The kids thought of bowling, so we all decided to go to the bowling alley and get some food there. The bowling alley was called Uncle Bucks Bowling, and it was located at the Bass Pro Shops in Georgetown, Texas. There was a little bit of a wait because its was a Saturday, so we went into Bass Pro Shop to have a look around. I got to check out some really cool crossbows that reminded me Daryl’s crossbow in The Walking Dead. I checked a few out and thought about buying one, but I would have no idea how to use it.

Thirty minutes passed by and then our table became available. I ordered a burger and fries, but to be honest it wasn’t the best food. My mom and I weren’t that pleased with our meals, so we wouldn’t recommend eating at that place. After we ate, our bowling lanes were ready. There was 4 boys and 3 girls, so the boys were on one lane and the girls were on the other. The bowling alley was really neat! It was Under the Sea themed and had hanging dolphins, sharks, and fish attached to the walls and ceiling. The walls were painted blue to represent the sea and the bowling ball dispenser was sculpted like a blue octopus.

Bowling was fun, but it was time to head out to go my sister’s house. We were going to make brownies and have one last night with the family. We got back to the house and my niece has recently started up sewing classes, so she showed us what she made. The boys showed us all the Lego sets that they built. It was so great seeing what the kids were into and getting to talk to them. Nothing is more important than family, so it was amazing seeing them. Sadly the night came to an end and my mom and I had to go back to our hotel. We made plans to meet up the next day right before we all had to get to the airport.

Sunday arrived and it was time to pack up our stuff and meet my family for one last meal together. My dad’s flight was bit earlier, my sister and her family had to drive him there by 2 PM, so we were able to have a longer meal together. We ate at this place called Kirby Lane, which is one of my favorite breakfast places is Austin. I really like their home fries, toast, and scrambled eggs with avocado toast. They have lots of pancakes that are really creative and yummy, but I was wanting a simple breakfast that day.

Everyone finished eating and it was time to say our goodbyes. I was sad because my sister and her family live in Texas and I don’t know when I’ll have the chance to go back to visit, but I was happy we got to go a couple days after Christmas to celebrate with them.

My mom and I went and got our nails done to kill some time before our flight. After we got our nails done, I was hungry again and wanted to stop by some food places that were not in California. We stopped by mighty fine burger, picked up one of my favorite burgers and then went to Tiffs Treats for some on my favorite cookies and brownies. By the time I got all my goodies it was time to head to the airport, return the rental car, and get on our flight.

My mom and I flew into Las Vegas, Nevada and went to her house there. I stayed one night in Vegas and then drove back to Long Beach the next morning to celebrate the New Year in my new apartment. I really loved visiting my family in Austin and I was so grateful to spend it with my mom and my dad. This is one trip I will never will forget. I hope my family can continue to get together once a year because it was unbelievably special. I hope you guys enjoyed hearing about my trip to Austin and enjoy my recommendations!

xoxo Terra Newell

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