Friday, July 11, 2014

Texas Forever {Part 1}

The week after Father's Day, my team at work was given the amazing gift of a week together at a house on a lake in Texas. {For those of you thinking, 'A week on "vacation" with the people I work with--no thank you!' I apologize. The people I work with are really fun to be around, so I knew it would be a good week.}

About three weeks before we left, I realized that we were flying in to Austin. Austin just happens to be the home of Friday Night Lights...a show I have watched twice alone, once with my previous roommate and have just started again {yep, for the fourth time} with my current roommate and our great friends. Needless to say, I was over-the-freakin-moon excited at the thought of standing in front of Tim Riggins' house wearing my Panthers jersey. {I almost burst in to tears about ten times imagining it.}

{Pause for a moment}

You see, I'm new on my team. I started at this campus in January. And I'm only there part time. So I didn't want to look the oh-so-gift horse in the mouth by asking to add a little Friday Night Lights tour on to this already incredible trip. I knew I had to approach the ask gently.


I began by asking how far Gonzales {the town we'd be staying in} was from Austin. I also asked {not my boss, but my go-to team member} how long we'd be in Austin on arrival and departure days. When I found out that we'd be in Austin for a whole SIX hours between arrival and dinner in the city, I knew I had to ask.

So, I subtly inquired {one coworker at a time} about who on my team had seen the show. As it turns out, about half of my team is huge fans and were fairly easily swayed to visit the homes around town during our free afternoon. And boss' kids started watching the show--so I knew this dream was becoming more and more a reality.

I did some research and found this map of the homes and locations. Mentioned {more than a few times} my excitement over an instagram with me in my Riggins' jersey.

When we landed in Austin, we were given the keys to a 15-passenger van and set out {about eight of us} to see Dillon, Texas in real life. I very nearly cried all the way to our first stop: Coach and Tammy Taylor's House. The rest of the van was kinda giggling at me...until we pulled up. Then they understood the joy.

As we stood on the lawn taking photos, the woman who lives in the Taylor house came to check the mail. I thought, for sure, she'd be telling us to 'get the heck out', but instead she offered to take our photo, told us how to get to The Riggins' house, and then explained that they filmed the show inside her house too and it looks just like it did on TV{!!!!} One of the women with our group asked if we could go inside and see, and the homeowner politely declined. We took our fair share of photos and jumped back in the van.

We drove a few blocks over and found Tim and Billy Riggins' house. I threw on my Panther jersey {from the NBC store years ago} and jumped out for a quick photo--trying my hardest, and completely failing, to play it real cool.

Honestly, we could have been done at this and I would have been so happy!

We turned a few corners and found the Dairy Queen they used for the scenes at Alamo Freeze. We filled up on blizzards {to go, of course--places to see!} and drove across town to Panther Field.

A few miles away, we found the Panther Fieldhouse in all its Dillon, Texas Glory! We took a moment of silence and gazed in awe at this legendary {and now kinda run-down} site.

As we drove to the second round of stops, we passed The Landing Strip. I begged my friend driving the van to turn in so we could take a photo. He was not super thrilled with the idea of pulling in to a strip club parking lot, in a van full of women and teenagers, in the middle of the day, but we convinced him. 

So, here it is--a true Dillon landmark. 

We passed this one three times before we could find it. Initially going to be our lunch stop--it used to be a real {and delicious} BBQ place. Thankfully, I googled it beforehand and found out it had been closed down. On the third pass--as we were about to give up--I saw the broken sign stowed in the back of the lot. My pregnant co-worker climbed out of the van to take my photo and have hers taken too.

Our last stop was Matt Saracen's. As we turned the corner, and saw the house, our whole van was full of excitement. It looked exactly the same as it did during the filming! {Minus the junky old gate and the Quarterback's practice tire.} As we stood out on the curb to take a picture, the front door opened and a little girl peeked her head out to say, "You can take a picture on the front porch, if you want!"

And, believe me, we did want.

We drove back to meet the rest of our team for an amazing steak dinner, {okay, I had chicken} already reminiscing about all that we had seen that day. Later that night, as we pulled in to the driveway of the lake house in Gonzales, I thought to myself, 'I could go home now and it would be a fully and memorable trip. I can't believe we have four more days to go!'

And it was only more exciting from there! be continued

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