Texas, ah Texas. I had not been to Texas in 7 years. Dad spent his formidable middle school and high schools growing up in Texas. He still claims to be from Texas even though he lived more time as a child in California and an adult in Utah. However, he is the only one in his family to leave Texas so I guess that’s why it feels like home.
So even though this road trip is about exploring the US, I couldn’t go to Texas without visiting my family. And the drive from New Orleans to Huntsville, Texas, I could tell by Dad’s driving he was about to explode with excitement to get there. (Yes, that drive was a bit frightening)
A bit about my family, so you understand why we had to visit and stay as long as we did. My dad is the third out of 11. He has 4 brothers and 6 sisters. I have over 30 first cousins, and when everyone gets together with spouses and the next generations there are well over 100 people. Originally, we had only planned to stay for 5 days, but quickly it turned into a week. We stayed at my Uncle Greg and Aunt Sharlene’s house for the visit, which is super comfortable and very welcoming.
Like Dad, Greg is also a mechanic. Dad would say he has a natural ability which makes him great. When we arrived, Greg heard the care and instantly new something was wrong. Dad and I had heard the rattling noise, but couldn’t figure out where it was coming from. However, it was getting steadily worse as we continued out the journey. Dad and Greg tore into the engine to find the serpentine belt with two rips. They hoped that was the issue, but it ended up being the entire water pump tearing apart from the inside. Dad just bought this car in March and luckily it was still under the manufacturing warranty, so they had to take the care 30 minutes north to the Toyota dealership to be fixed. They had the car for three days, so I’m grateful we were with family when the car broke that badly.
So back to the Texas visit, Dad losses any ability to focus when he is around his siblings, which makes planning very difficult. But when you have that many brothers and sisters, organizing to meet up with them all is super important. I would have to walk Dad aside and ask him if he called his sister or if he finalized when we would visit with a brother. Luckily, we did manage to see all of his brother and sisters. I did not see all of my first cousins, but did get to see a good portion of them.
On Saturday, they had a family party with all the brothers and sisters. It was a loud, crazy, and fun time. There is a lot of energy in my Dad’s family, and most only know how to use their outside voices 😉 So it’s super fun but also more action than I am used to.
It does take a megaphone to organize the family. This is Aunt Sharlene, the hostess with the mostest!
Even though I had a great time at the party, I liked the time I got to spend with smaller groups of cousins and family better. There was lots of laughing and great conversation when I got to hang out with my cousins. The highlight was getting pedicures with Stacy, Vicki, and Kelly. Then Shelly joined us for dinner. What a great night of fun with my cousins.
I’m the only one of the first generation of cousins who doesn’t have kids. But I loved playing with my second cousins. The biggest issue is that names beginning with C or K are super popular in the second generation, so I had a hard time remembering names. But one of my little cousins, Kyli, brought tears to my eyes, when she gave me her princess ring so I would remember her when I left. So sweet!
I am missing so many pictures of my family, so don’t think I’ve got everyone. Plus, this is an active family, I could only capture the ones who would slow down for a moment and let me get a picture.
I’ve definitely gotten overwhelmed when I’ve visited Texas in the past, but I was able to relax and enjoy the visit. I definitely had a great time, and I know Dad was beside himself with all the fun he had!