A couple of weeks ago, Tim and I set off on a pilgrimage of sorts to Texas. I grew up heading to Texas a couple of times a year to see my paternal grandparents, aunt and cousins. My dad was raised in Texas.

This trip had nothing to do with family though. This trip was about talking, exploring, and growing.

We are big fans of the HGTV show Fixer Upper. Tuesday night is our night to sit and watch our favorite show together. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the show, it is set in Waco, Texas and features a couple who remodel houses. It so much more than that though. This couple is very grounded and positive about life, which is a big part of what appeals to us. They live on a farm with their 4 kids and a bunch of animals and have gone beyond their TV fame to make their hometown a better place than when they started the show.

Last fall, Tim decided we should go to Waco and see their store at an area they developed called The Silos. This is the last season of their show so it seemed the right time to go and visit them. But I am getting ahead of myself.

Last fall was kind of a crazy time. I was beginning the process of directing my first big play and Tim was headlong into building the elaborate set I had requested. We were working on a healthier lifestyle and of course, there was football season.

Overall, trying to find a week to head off to Texas was not in the cards. I thought that if we waited until spring, we could take more time AND make it an anniversary trip. So we waited.

Part of my plan during the trip was to read aloud to Tim two books that I had just finished. Tim listens to books on tape when he travels and I LOVE to read out loud. I realized that I rarely get to read out loud anymore and I wanted the practice. (Many auditions around here are cold readings from a script.) Instead of a book on tape, he got a live reading.

One of the books was Tyler Perry’s HIGHER. I found it inspirational and the short chapters read almost like a collection of devotionals. I was going to use a chapter or two a day to start us off with inspiration and positive thoughts.

The second book was Chip Gaines’ book CAPITAL GAINES. (Chip is the husband of the duo on Fixer Upper.) Tim had listened to the first book the Gaines had written a year or so back, and I thought he would enjoy hearing this one. I also had another reason for reading these books that I will share later in our journey. Maybe.

As we headed out on a Monday morning, I had my usual feelings of fear of leaving the things, people and cat I love mixed with the excitement of a new adventure. We had decided to drive instead of fly for many reasons- to see more of the countryside, to have a truck to haul back any cool finds we might come across and to save money. We had time, so why not?

Tim’s truck is 19 years old and has over 240,000 miles on it. When I asked him if he felt good that the old truck would make this long trek, he assured me that it would with the stipulation that if it died en route, he would leave it on the side of the road where it sat and buy a new one on the spot so we could continue. I was very satisfied with that answer.

As we drove away, I was ready to start reading, but figured I would wait until we were settled on the interstate, so I wouldn’t be interrupted.

When we had gone a half hour or so, I offered to start reading and Tim declined the offer. I was kind of heart broken and I think he felt that, because in a few miles he said, “I think I have changed my mind, I am ready for us to start the book.”

I told him I had an ulterior motive for sharing these books, but that I wouldn’t discuss that until I had finished them. I also told him we had to finish Chip’s book before we got to Waco. With that I began what would be a time of idea sharing and inspiration for us both.

Our plan was to break up the drive and stop in Shreveport to spend the night. We stayed at the Horseshoe Casino. We had a beautiful room and enjoyed a nice dinner and a little gambling time. I left the actual casino pretty quickly due to the cigarette smoke, and the fact that I quickly lost $20 in a slot machine, Tim stayed longer- it took him longer to lose his money.

Our next destination was Austin, Texas. Going to either Dallas or Austin would have worked, but we have been to Dallas many times. Austin was going to be a new adventure and we had heard so many cool things about the city.

So Tuesday morning we got up, worked out and got on the road headed to Austin. (Not super early, after all it is vacation!)

There were three routes we could have taken, one was interstate all of the way, one was interstate for awhile followed by some back woods roads until we picked up another interstate, and the most direct route which was small, country roads the whole way. We compromised on the one that had some interstate and just a few back roads. I chose that option on Google maps and away we went.

We talked about how we used to have to have a big atlas to find our way across the country. We marveled at the ease of finding places with all of the new technology. Little did we know that technology was about to mess with us.

We took the interstate to Tyler, Texas and then got off to begin our countryside drive. Somewhere in there I must have touched the screen the wrong way, because without my knowing the route changed to the other, more direct route full of small, winding country roads.

God has a way of taking you down the road, maybe not the one you chose, but the one you need to be on. Although we were off the path we had chosen, we were happy for the sights and adventures we came across along the way. You just never know what you might see off of the beaten path.




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Marietta is a graduate of the University of Montevallo with a BFA in musical theater. She has been performing for over 50 years on the stage and continues to perform, direct and teach. Marietta is married to Tim, has a son named Jon, and a cat named Penny.