Welcome to part 2 of things I did this summer! I hope you’re enjoying the stories! I’m certainly enjoying reliving our adventures!
While we lived in Utah, Evan and I fell in love with rock climbing. It was the perfect hobby. It was exercise (only time in my life when I could actually do pull ups and real push ups), it was time outside enjoying the beauty of God’s creations, it gave us goals and places to travel, and, most importantly, it was a hobby that we loved doing together! Evan’s first love (hobby-wise) has always been, and probably always will be, hockey. I love cooking. We both have fun dabbling in each other’s passions. I like trying to ice skate with Evan (trying being the key word) and he likes to hang out with me in the kitchen, but rock climbing was something that was ours. Of course we do lots of fun things together and enjoy whatever time we spend together, but we do truly miss rock climbing. We were both lamenting our lack of outdoor hobbies (most of Texas is not very outdoor-hobby friendly) after leaving the beach house, and then it hit us. (And by us I mean Evan who slowly convinced me that a monetary investment in an outdoor hobby could be a great thing.) While Houston has zero elevation and we live at least an hour away from any decent rock gyms, we do have some beaches pretty close! And the sweltering heat of Texas is much more enjoyable in the water! And thus…
We bought a soft-top surfboard! And we love it! We got the longest board possible that would still fit in our car since I’m a super newbie and Evan still considers himself new. It has been super fun and so nice to have an outdoor hobby again! I’ll be honest, I’m pretty awful, but it doesn’t even matter. I did get better, and it’s still something active we can do outside, together. We started going to Surfside, which is this adorable little beach community, and we fell in love. Has surfing taken the place of climbing in our hearts? Not at all. But it will definitely be a fun way to enjoy the hot outdoors together while we’re in Houston! I’m so glad we made the plunge and bought it. I was talking to my sister the other day about how growing up in Dallas I saw the outdoors as primarily a place to be super hot and be eaten by bugs. But after living in a place where the outdoors are not only beautiful, but fun and full of adventures, I want to make sure that I always have an outdoor hobby wherever we’re living.
That was a very long story. But it was a significant part of our summer! After our summer full of beach time, we took a break from the water and went up to visit Evan’s parents and sister in Philadelphia!
Evan’s mom and sister picked us up from the airport and we went straight to downtown Philly! Evan and I had both been there before and done the historical side of things, so this time we did more of a cool sights/foodie tour of the city! It was so much fun! We went to Redding Terminal and had this amazing ice cream from Bassetts!
Seriously, this stuff was Calabash Creamery quality. After ice cream, we had to get some gelato from Giro, naturally! We tried to be responsible adults and dilute all of the sugar in our bellies with some real food so we went to a super tasty noodle place called Honeygrow. Unfortunately for our good intentions, this amazing cookie place was next door to the noodle place. So, to swing the concentration of food in our stomach back to sugar-loaded, we went and picked up some Insomnia cookies. That cookie in my hand is a S’mores cookie and let me tell you, it was divine. One of the best cookies I’ve ever had for sure! You should definitely check it out if you’re ever in the area!
If you can’t tell, this trip could also be titled The Trip of Selfies. I definitely took more selfies in our few days in PA than I have in the rest of my life put together! In between episodes of stuffing our faces with all the things, we went and ran the Rocky steps and walked all over the city. We went to Love Park, too! I had never seen it before, but it was a fun little spot in the city.
This was a different kind of visit to Philly than either of us had ever had before, and we had a great time! It was great to see something other than the historical district of Philadelphia. The next day we woke up early and took a train to New York City. I heart NY. Cliché? Maybe. But true nonetheless. It’s so big and busy and there’s so much to see! We went up to the High Line where they converted an old rail system into an above ground park. It was really neat to see! The area around the park seems like it’s really going from run-down to super trendy, so you get to see both sides of the urban coin, which is always interesting.
There was this big grass patch overlooking a street, so Amy (Evan’s awesome sister) and I tried 1,562 times to get a good jumping picture. Our perseverance paid off!
We walked all over the city and ended up at Chelsea Pier and walked through their sports center. Evan got to gaze at their ice rinks while I tried to talk him into moving to New York for a year at some point in our lives (probably won’t happen, but the prospect of hockey did help the cause).
There was this cool carousel next to the activity center and we all decided to channel our inner kid and go for a ride! (I also discovered my phone’s ability to take panorama pictures on this trip. You’re welcome. And I’m sorry.)
I rode a falcon. You know. ‘Cause I’m legit.
There were a few signs across the city that reinforced the New York attitude stereotype, but this one was for sure my favorite.
Haha, that doesn’t sound like the most productive option, guys. Of course we had to get some street gyros for lunch!
These were my first gyros and they were pretty divine. Unfortunately, they didn’t give Evan or me red sauce like we asked, which in Evan’s eyes, was a tragedy. So, naturally, we had to get street gyros again for dinner. I wasn’t complaining, though!
We all walked through Little Italy and China Town and enjoyed the different sights, sounds, and smells associated with each culture!
While we were in Little Italy, we had to get more gelato. You can never have too much.
I love the way the old buildings with the fire escapes look!
We went in this super creepy voodoo-ish shop that I’m pretty sure catered to a wiccan audience or something. There were strange stones and bones all over. It was fun to see something so different. I felt like I was in New Orleans again!
We met up with Evan’s dad and picked up some Magnolia Bakery for dessert…
And gyros numero dos for dinner!
The next day we were pretty beat from two full days of travel and city exploring, so Evan’s parents took us on a tour of the little towns where they live. Their love for their area is palpable, and it was fun to see all of the things they love about their town. We went to a little town square that happened to be having a blueberry festival. They had a folk band playing and everything! I also saw this gem of a mug while there.
Haha! When we got home we played this game called sketch it. It’s essentially like telephone, but you draw the word that’s given to you, then the next person writes what they think the drawing is and so on and so on. This was my favorite drawing, though. Can you guess what it is?
It’s a tongue twister! Evan drew it. Once you know what it is it makes perfect sense, but just looking at it I would have no idea what it is. We ended the night with a fire outside and S’mores!
Trips filled with family and fun are always welcome vacations! I’m so glad we got to see Evan’s family and their new home!
Soon after we got home Evan started school! It was an exciting whirlwind of a time! Evan is going to school with some truly stellar people. They are all so kind and they seem to create a strong community atmosphere. I think that’s so important! In any kind of competitive schooling, it’s easy to get people that are looking to build themselves up by pulling others down, but it seems like most of the people at Baylor really try to create an atmosphere where they can all grow together. Evan definitely enjoys that kind of environment, and it’s been a great experience for him!
About two weeks after school started, Evan had his white coat ceremony! That’s where all of the students get their med student coats to start their journey to being doctors. Both of our parents came out for the occasion, and it was fun to have them both over and show them where we live! Somehow this is the only picture that I have on my phone! But it was a very nice ceremony. I’m so proud of Evan for all of the work that he’s done to get to this point, and I’m so glad he’s going to be able to learn in such a good environment!
After the ceremony, things settled down considerably. Evan having a set schedule and endless amounts of things to cram in his head have made our personal lives a little slower.
One day, out of the blue, I got a text from one of my good friends from high school saying that he and some of my other friends were going to be coming to Houston for a day! I jumped at the chance to get together with all of them again! The four of us became besties in middle school and our friendships grew all throughout high school. It was so fun to get together with them again and catch up! And I got to meet Ethan’s wife for the first time (she’s super lovely and perfect for Ethan)! Evan had to study for the first part of the day, but luckily he was able to hang out with us at night! I’m so glad I had such great friends growing up and I’m glad that those ties still exist today!
Last story for this post. I have an intense love of the Texas State Fair. In college I didn’t get homesick too much. I could always call my family and they were there for me through the phone, and I went home for most major holidays. Despite this, I got a little homesick every year when it was State Fair time. I told Evan over and over “It’s really just like any other fair. Don’t get too excited for when I take you someday. But I love it so much!” It was my fair. I went with my family every year growing up. So this year, after 5 years, the State Fair and I were reunited.
A few years ago while I was away at school, Big Tex (our awesome ginormous cowboy statue that talks, telling us to have a great time at the fair and whatnot) burned down! I don’t remember the details, but it was tragic. It was a sad time for Texas. Luckily a new Big Tex emerged from the ashes of the old, and I was very happy to see that they didn’t try to fancy him too much. He was just a shiny, new version of the old Big Tex!
We moseyed around all of the pavilions checking out all the cooking shows, massage chairs, car shows, and arts and crafts displays we could fit in! They had this cute little kids’ area where the kids walked around to different stations and learned about farming and ranching. Look at my adorable nephew in his little apron.
It was so fun to go with my family! I think my wonderful niece and nephews love the fair as much as I do!
This persistent little guy wouldn’t rest until he got to ride the tractor!
Evan’s analysis of the fair was (as I predicted) that it was pretty much like any other fair, only bigger. His one exception to that was that the petting zoo was the most legit petting zoo ever. It had giraffes and wallabies and musk oxen and who knows how many other exotic animals!
It even had this donkey/zebra hybrid! (There were regular zebras, too.)
And, of course, no trip to the fair is complete without fair food! Evan got a turkey leg and I got a corn dog! So good.
All in all, we had a pretty fantastic summer full of travel, fun, and family. I wouldn’t have it any other way!