We began our day at Leaf + Bean, a local cafe recommended to us by our AirBnb host.

“Get the cereal milk latte!” she told us.

Unfortunately, of the two locations we chose to go to, we went to the new one, which tragically did not have the cereal milk latte yet. Even so, I think the vanilla latte I’d ordered was probably the best latte I’d had in my entire life. I could actually taste the espresso in my cup and, as someone who likes their coffee strong, I was in heaven.

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Leaf + Bean

We decided to make a few pit stops along the way in order to break up our driving. The first was in Dallas and this mostly just consisted of us stopping to get gas. On our way out of the city, we drove by Reunion Tower, which, to be honest, was nothing special, especially when compared to our next stop.

Waco was about an hour and a half drive from Dallas and was just as somber as the Oklahoma City Memorial. Walking up to the space where the Branch Davidian Compound once stood, we were greeted with a sign reading,

“The vault area where mothers & children were gassed to death.”

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Waco

I had a flashback of the series on Netflix I’d watched of the Waco Massacre and it was almost as if I could see these people desperately looking up at me through the slit in the vault, their screams echoing across the empty valley.

A few steps further sat some of the building structures remnants, which were now completely filled with swampy green water and turtles and goldfish making their rounds. Who knows, maybe these were the souls taken from us on that day, reborn into safer versions of themselves.

On the opposite side of the lawn was a school bus, now crushed and almost completely underground. It’s hard to describe the feeling that this atmosphere had lingering around it. Something was definitely left unfinished. As we drove back down the gravel driveway, the cattle gave us a look as if they, too, understood the severity of events that unfolded here. We reached the highway and the heavy weights on our shoulders lifted as we finished off our journey to Austin, Texas.

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Street Art

Upon arriving in the city, we checked into our AirBnb. We were staying with some local artists for the night, and the walls definitely proved it as rainbow splashes of printed canvases surrounded us.

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Local Art Home

Echo and Sam, their friendly dogs, bounded in to say hello and welcome us to Austin. However, our night was far from over.

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Walking Downtown

After freshening up, we hopped back into the car and headed down to Congress Avenue Bridge. Walking the trail along the river’s edge, birds swirled around us and turtles swam below us.

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Birds Playing Tag

You could tell the community here was together –working together– even with all of the divisions going on around the world.

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Masked Biker

As the sun began to set, we made our way back to Congress Avenue Bridge, waiting for the show to begin.

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Austin Sunset

Not ten minutes later, as the golden globe dipped below the horizon, the curtains opened. Out of the left corner of my eye, I spotted some movement. A bat living in the rafters below the bridge wooshed out and slipped into the sky. He was followed by another, and then another and another… Soon, a black river was running downstream from the bridge through the night sky, looping around a skyscraper and disappearing up into the clouds. I’d never seen anything like it. Apparently, these Mexican Free-Tailed Bats live in ginormous colonies and during the warmer months when the bats are in Austin, this freak show makes a nightly appearance.

“That never gets old,” the local standing opposite from me said, and I couldn’t help but smile. How could it?

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As we strolled back to the car, something ran out in front of us and slithered into the grate circling the tree on the sidewalk.

“What the…”

Two small ears peeked back out of the hole in the ground and I had a laugh as the raccoon turned his head and sighed at me, disappointed to have given his hiding spot away. We took a front row seat on a park bench nearby, watching him conduct a personal whack-a-mole simulation, ducking as city goers zoomed by him. Every time another person strolled by, oblivious, I giggled and was given a strange look, as to them, I probably looked like one of the crazies laughing at the inanimate objects on the streets. Oh well, no shame in my game.

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City Slicker

Back at the AirBnb, we poured ourselves a glass of cabernet and got situated on the hammocks swinging in the backyard garden. Our host had set up a projector outside, so we relaxed under the stars with Netflix and our two favorite cuddle buddies: Echo and Sam.

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Backyard Garden

It was right then and there that I decided, if I ever open an outdoor theatre, I’m going to have to partner with the Humane Society so everyone has a pal to watch the movies with. Cheers, am I right?

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