I never imagined I would live in Texas, I grew up happily splashing through the woods in Oregon. I thought that Texas was just full of armadillos and overly armed rednecks… well, may still be true but this big, beautiful, bodacious state has a lot more to delight even the weirdest, rain-loving Northwesterner. My husband’s job relocated us from outside Portland, Oregon to Austin, Texas and I couldn’t be happier. I surprisingly fell right in love with Texas and I am excited to share it all!
One of my favorite parts of Texas is the landscape, yes, the landscape! There are roller coaster hills, rocky valleys, expansive canyons, thick green wooded areas, rivers tumbling full of personality and wide and bustling lakes. I flew in for my first house hunting trip in April, and I landed in Dallas (four hours from Austin). I kept saying, “THIS is TEXAS??!!” with incredulity. I had pictured the surface of the moon, but hotter. I saw high deserts, forests and the lakes and rivers astounded me! I thought I would be stuck in the air conditioning for the rest of my life, instead, we have spent more time outside than we had in Oregon!
Based on media stories and anecdotes from others, I had some low expectations for the people of Texas, and I am happy to admit that I was wrong as unsweetened tea in Houston. For my first week, I thought people were secretly making fun of me because they were so over-the-top, outstandingly polite. Even at restaurants, especially in restaurants! And grocery stores, gas stations, everywhere! Everyone says sir or ma’am, and means it. Texans are as serious about their manners as they are about their barbeque!
Speaking of barbeque (you spell it out down here, BBQ is for sissies, everyone knows that), the food here in Texas is my absolute, all-time favorite part of this whole state. Back track for a sec, my dream job would be to have my own food show, like Man vs. Food or Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. A fat kid lives inside me and Texas feeds her! I once told my brother that we should take a year off of life, travel around and eat at all best places around the country, spend 6 months just eating and loving every single french fry. We would then take the next six months and train and get into the CrossFit Games… that’s not as exciting though… onto FOOD!
Barbeque, Tex-Mex, Mexican, potato salad (omg, the potato salad is everywhere and it is lovely), even the fast food is better! Seriously, there is a chain, Taco Cabana, that is “like” Taco Bell; it’s Mexican and it’s served in a couple of minutes. But. They make everything homemade with no added chemicals, fresh tortillas are made on the daily, there is a salsa bar with every kind of UNLIMITED salsa and other veggies, and the bestest best part of all time ever ever ever… 24-hour margarita machine! I actually have not had a margarita there, but that’s just the best!
Some of favorites in the north Austin area are; Rudy’s (it’s a chain, but doesn’t feel like it), Green Mesquite, Smokey Mo’s and really any barbeque place you can go is amazing. A lovely side note on the barbecue joints in Texas, they all serve unlimited pickles and onions! I am a pickle aficionado, so I love the constant access to pickles!
The best place close to Round Rock is by far, Cele Country Store. This is the most legit, authentic, old school Texas place of all time. You drive out past a bunch of hay fields, rodeo practice arena, corn fields and then you pull up in a field by a place that looks perfectly preserved since 1951. The owner, Don Carroll, is adorable! I could sit and talk to him forever, I would love to sit next to him at a rodeo and just listen to him! Cele doesn’t have a menu, you have to make a reservation because they have like ten tables, so when you get there you just tell them what beer you want and how many orders of meat you want. I have had beef ribs, sausage and brisket there; my inner fat kid loves the hell out of every single thing. The waitress brings over your meat on a huge piece of butcher paper, you bring whatever sides you want and then go to town and don’t let nothing but fear hold you back!
Mexican is my all time favorite cuisine, these are my go-to places: for fast Mexican, just go to Taco Cabana, you won’t regret it, El Taco Savor Mexico is a casual dining place with great food, Torchi’s Tacos is great… honestly every damn place you go is fantastic ! My current all time favorite is Dos Chivos Mexican Kitchen, it’s fresh and spicy and excellent Tex Mex! Chuy’s is great too, they also have nice outdoor spaces and multiple locations.
Texas, especially what I have seen of central Texas hill country is not all brisket and enchiladas. There are some drawbacks that I have discovered. The worst part about living in Texas is the crap you get from everyone else in the country for living in Texas! I was totally that person, but come on y’all give Texas a chance!
The second worst part about Texas are the critters, although that being said, I have not seen anything horrifying. I am an outdoor runner, trail and road, and was hell bent on continuing here in Texas. My first week here, I was crazy paranoid, I didn’t let our dog go in the grass outside the dog park and I didn’t wear my ear buds when running! There is a pond across the street from our temporary housing, I ran around it once with my lab and was so paranoid about the killer snakes that I was convinced lived there, I couldn’t even enjoy my run! Truly, I have not seen any snakes, scorpions, armadillos or anything else gross. We do live in a city of about 100,000 and there is a lot of traffic and construction going on around us, so it’s not a surprise that the critters have bailed out! HOWEVER at our new house, which is about 5 miles outside of a town of 6,000 and next to a wildlife refuge, the construction project manager carries rattlesnake anti-venom in his pickup truck! There are spiders unlike anything I’ve ever seen out there and beetles the size of a Beetle! On one of our house hunting trips, the real estate agent was unlocking the door of a vacant new construction, and I asked her what all the long legged bugs were… apparently they are the most poisonous spiders on the planet. “Don’t worry,” she tells me, “their mouths are too small to bite through skin, so they are harmless!” Umm, that doesn’t sound harmless to me, that is a big hot no for me!
Bottom line, there are poisonous bugs, reptiles and animals in Texas. Yes, they are bigger in Texas. However, they don’t want anything to do with you anymore than you want to hang out with them! I’ve learned to just relax and keep on running and swimming and listen a little bit more intently!
One of the first questions that Texans ask when they find out I just moved from Oregon and also anyone else who finds that I just moved to Texas, is “How do you like the heat?” Honestly, it’s not that terrible! I do love the heat and run naturally cold, so I’m fine with it. We also have a pool that we are in every day and have a boat that we are on all weekend, every weekend. I run before 8am, and it’s mostly under 80 degrees, so it’s not bad. Plus I can wear shorts and tank top everyday and not do my hair, yes please!
For me, the absolute worst part of Texas is just being away from my friends and family. The transition was hard, we left everyone and everything. We are now on the other side of that first few bumpy weeks and love Texas so much, we don’t want to leave! We just want everyone to come visit us here!
Low housing prices, live music everywhere, delicious food at every turn, hills, trees, lakes, rivers, a lot of locally made products (vodka, cider, sauces, etc…), the list goes on. It’s hard to even describe how great this state is, you just have to come visit. Fly into Dallas, go the Stockyards, swing through Waco’s antique stores on your drive to Austin, have some barbecue and listen to music, take the back road to San Antonio and have some excellent Tex Mex and tour the historical areas, end up at the Gulf Coast and have some authentic Cajun boil after spending the day fishing.
When you decide you love Texas enough to stay, I have a great builder to recommend. See you on Lake Travis:)