My thoughtful husband could see that I needed a break. My mother had just passed away and the trials of dealing with her estate and the emotions that come with handling family during a difficult time was straining me. Plus it was Valentine’s Day weekend; I am not the romantic type, but I am always up for a bit of a travel!
Mike had just wrapped up several days of meetings in Dallas, so I boarded a plane at Dulles and trekked to Dallas/Fort Worth International airport to join him. A short two hour flight later, (Which was supposed to be 2-1/2 hours, causing Mike to scramble to pick me up) I was lounging outside the terminal basking in the balmy 68° February weather waiting for my ride.
After reuniting with my husband, the first order of business was…yep, you guessed it, trading in the rental car. No, not cigarette smoke this time, it was the newness of the car. The chemical smell was, I am quite positive, trying to kill us. This endeavor took forever and I saw far more of DFW airport then I wanted to, especially since I was starving. But we eventually made our way to the hotel, where these beautiful flowers were waiting for me.
We were meeting some friends for a birthday dinner at Flemming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine bar which was perfectly situated close to our hotel, given that I was about to have a meltdown from lack of sustenance. The restaurant was large and filled with pre-Valentine dinner dates. Mike had kindly requested a quiet table and we were dutifully shown to the back of the establishment.
DALLAS / FT. WORTH
I always check the weather at the start of my packing and on the day of travel. It was being reported that Saturday would be chilly at around 53°. This would not be uncomfortable for us since we are in the throws of a particularly cold mid-atlantic winter. I packed a variety of clothing and at the last minute threw in my hat and gloves for the cold nights.
Waking up on Saturday we realized that the reports had been way off, it dawned bitter and brutally cold. The wind whipping across the flat land was harsh and I was thankful that I had warm clothes, but I kicked myself for not bringing my long coat. Mike was grateful that I had packed his heavy winter jacket (He only had his suit jacket with him.)
After a warm and filling breakfast at the Marriott’s breakfast buffet, which was included with our room, we set off to do a little sightseeing. Our first stop was to The Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas. Mike had visited Dallas as a child and had always wanted to tour the infamous building from where President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.
“The Sixth Floor Museum,” located in the former Texas School Book Depository, is open from 12-6 on Mondays, and 10-6 every other day of the week, with the last tickets sold at 5:15. Ticket prices at the time of writing were $16 for adults, $14 for seniors. My advice would be to buy the tickets in advance. The line can get very long on the weekends waiting to purchase the timed tickets. You can purchase your online tickets up to 2 hours in advance of your visit.
When it is your turn, you will be ushered into an elevator for the short trip up to the sixth floor. If your audio headset decides that it wants to do its job you will see your first stop on the audio tour almost immediately upon exiting the elevator, that is, if you are able to see the displays at all due to the enormous crowds of people in front of each one.
We eventually gave up on the audio, zipped rapidly through the museum displays, and then, because you are not allowed to take pictures on the sixth floor, we headed to the seventh floor, where there were more displays but much fewer people.
TIP: Take advantage of going up to the seventh floor of the museum. Toward the back left corner, around the group of lockers, is a perfect view of Dealey Plaza. From here you can get an idea of the vantage point that Lee Harvey Oswald had that day of the Presidential motorcade. Photography is allowed on the seventh floor.
After exiting the museum, stroll down to the notorious “Grassy Knoll,” where conspiracy theorists believe the shot that actually killed JFK was fired from. The large X on the roadway is not placed there by the museum, or the city of Dallas, in fact, the city has often paved over it during street repairs. However, the large X, marking the spot where the young President was killed, always mysteriously reappears.
The bitter cold was really driving the day. Our plans to tour around downtown Dallas were cut short because of it. After half heartedly wandering around the plaza for a bit, we scurried back to the warmth of our car. As a fan of my local football team, and being in the city that houses their main rival, I had to see their stadium, if only to snicker and mock.
Of course, what I found was a well planned stadium complex situated in a beautiful and accessible area of town. I grudgingly admired the attention given to the fan experience, although, I did show my distaste for the colors upon seeing this store in Fort Worth (I am gagging a little in the photo below.)
Not being able to withstand another minute of the blue and cold, we made the half hour drive to Fort Worth, a town that Mike was sure that I was going to love due to the architecture of the buildings downtown.
The goal was to eat some Texas BBQ and to see beautiful buildings. We managed to accomplish both. Ducking into Riscky’s BBQ we were immediately greeted with the sounds of a large group of boisterous cheer competitors and their even louder parents. And it was cold in the joint, I think the weather caught the Texans off guard and they forgot to turn on the heat, however we were determined to eat. The food was adequate, the service perhaps lacking a bit due to the large parties of cheer families, but we ate and that was the goal. Shored up, we plunged back into the cold, walked about a block down the pretty street, and then practically ran back to the car.
Defeated by the arctic temperature, (The windchill had to be below 0°), we thought of throwing in the towel and spending the day shopping (Which we hate) or hanging out at the hotel. But I did not fly all the way to Texas to sit by an indoor pool, so I asked Mike how far Waco was. Curious, he asked why? So I reminded him that that’s where the Magnolia Silos were. Knowing that I was a fan of the show, “Fixer Upper,” he said it would be a doable trip of about ninety minutes and that we would have enough time for a quick visit before needing to return to Plano for our dinner with our friends. So off we went.
Besides the Magnolia complex, Waco is home of the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame & Museum, Baylor University, and the birthplace of Dr. Pepper. HGTV and the Gaines family have done a lot to restore the good name of this sweet city, as those of us over the age of fifty remember its dark past.
TIP: No need to pay for parking. The Silos offer free parking off of 8th street with direct access into the complex. The parking lot is gravel so tread carefully. There also appears to be plenty of free street parking around the Silos. They even offer a free trolley ride from downtown Waco with free parking. The ten minute trip to the Silos from there will take you by all of the points of interest in the immediate area.
The market area is not very large, you will not wear yourself out walking around it. There is a picnic and play area directly in front of the (Currently empty) silos, a marketplace and the bakery. There are also a plethora of local food trucks circling the complex like a new era wagon train. Having just eaten BBQ, we wanted cupcakes, and it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that one must have one of Jojo’s sweet confections while sitting in the shadow of the rustic charm of the old silos. So while Mike got in the long line (We’ve been told the wait can be almost two hours during the busy summer months.) I popped into the market.
The store looks like a magazine shoot on steroids. Everything is so “Joanna Gaines”, and because we all love her, it was everything we’d want it to be. There is more than enough staff about to help you with your purchases, although the lines were very long at the registers. I would recommend going downstairs to the cashiers in the back to bypass the congestion at the front of the market.
(There was a polite sign asking that you not take pictures, but I couldn’t help sneaking this one!)
The bakery is adjacent to the marketplace so I left the store and picked my way across the iconic green checkerboard walkway and went to join Mike in the cupcake queue.
Despite the cold and the wait, everyone in the line was in high spirits, my belief is that the people that enjoy coming here are high spirits kind of folk. We joined in conversations and met people from all over the country, we are not shy about talking with people as it’s the best part of traveling.
SIDE NOTE: You will be giving a card with the cupcake “menu” on it as you wait. Please fill out the card with your desired purchases so that the process is expedited once you get to the counter. Their menu includes cookies, pastries, coffee and other drinks, and they also provide Gluten-Free options.
I don’t normally buy souvenirs, but I do pick up the occasional t-shirt and they had them arranged tastefully on shelves at the side of the bakery, so I couldn’t resist picking one up, plus it didn’t hurt that they were thirty percent off! Our sweets in hand (Plus a box for our friends) we strolled out to the bakery courtyard where we snapped a few photos of ourselves in front of the Magnolia sign from the episode titled: “Sweet Surprise at the Magnolia Silos,” and lingered long enough in the shadows of the great silos to polish off a cupcake.
SIDE NOTE: The Bakery is only open 7:30am-6:00pm Monday-Saturday, they are currently closed on Sundays, so plan your trip accordingly.
We left the Magnolia Marketplace the happiest we’d been on the whole trip. It was a special place to visit and we were thankful that we had not allowed the opportunity to pass us by.
I watched the vast Texas landscape roll by as we heading back to Plano where dinner with friends awaited. Then a peaceful night’s sleep, and an easy trip home, made for a wonderful short adventure.