The past few months, we’ve been packing, prepping a house to sell, cleaning like crazy people for open houses and showings, moving first our stuff then ourselves from Chicago to a rural area south of San Antonio, TX and then unpacking and decorating our new house. Now that we’re more settled in, I’m back! Here are my observations about Texas so far:
At Brigham Young University, I met a lot of Texans. While amazing, wonderful people, they all had one thing in common- they thought that Texas was the BEST THING EVER. We’ve flown into Houston a few times, and I competed in Fort Worth a few years, but other than that my experience with Texas is very limited. I thought Houston was flat, green, and humid. I heard that San Antonio was more desert-like and dry like the southwest United States. I knew that Texas hill country was up north of San Antonio, so I guess I expected it to be flat, dry, brown and infested with snakes and scorpions. In general, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by what I’ve found.
First off, it’s really hot. It’s a little more humid than my hometown in California, and hot (like over 100 F) for longer over the summer. I thought for sure with all the heat, the grass would be brown all summer. However, somehow the grass is still green, and grows like crazy. There are flowering bushes and trees blooming over the summer, and today there were so many butterflies flying around. It’s eerily like my hometown in that it is small and the main trees are live oaks. With the green grass and live oaks, it’s surprisingly beautiful and picturesque. There are rolling hills which seem large after living in flat Chicago plains. In the Chicago suburbs, we could get anything we could ever want from a store in a 10-15 minute drive. Down here, our town has 9,000 people and one grocery store, a tractor supply and hardware store, and (thankfully) a Super Wal-mart. To go to a larger hardware store, Target, or any other clothing stores, we have to drive 30-50 minutes into San Antonio. It’s been an adjustment to strategically plan our trips “to town” and I think we just need to man up and get used to driving longer distances! We’re rural enough that our mail comes to a box at the entrance to our neighborhood, and is delivered by a mail carrier driving an old beat up Corolla with a light on top. Our neighborhood is so quiet and peaceful, as is the park. The pace of life “in town” and on the roads is slower. It is a stark change from the busy-ness of the Chicago suburbs.
We miss the full-service parks department with all the classes and camps and sports. Instead, there are great community activities put on by the library and Parks & Rec department once a week for kids over the summer. The library summer reading program, instead of being only a self-paced reading log, included a themed story time each week along with a craft. The entire thing was put on by volunteers. The Parks & Recreation department also organized a summer program with activities each week for kids. We went fishing in the Atascosa river, learned about local wildlife from a wildlife biologist, and played indoor gym games. By far the best activity of the summer was the Police vs. kids water gun fight at the community park. The fire department set up a truck and sprayed water from the top of the ladder on the kids playing below. Our kids had a blast! So, that’s the difference, really. There is a lot less going on, because we are in such a small town, but the activities are unique and more suited to a small town atmosphere.
People are generally quite friendly here. They are much more open and will approach and talk to my kids, which they are still getting used to. People just didn’t do that as much in Illinois, I guess. We spent some quality time in various government offices getting driver’s licenses and registration. Every time a man came in the door with cowboy boots and a cowboy hat, the boys would loudly exclaim, “WOW! It’s a real cowboy!” We see real cowboys at the grocery store, library, park and all sorts of offices. It gets my boys every time, and I think the cowboys get a laugh out of it too. Clearly, we’re not from around here. Landon has declared that he wants “legit” cowboy boots and a cowboy hat- it didn’t take him long to try to assimilate into the culture. Everyone seems down to earth and real here. I fit right in with my low maintenance ways.
So I guess, in summary, we like it here. We are not planning on Pleasanton being our permanent home forever, but hopefully a good place to raise our boys and call home for several years. If anyone knows how to kill fire ants, we are open to suggestions. They are really one of the only truly unpleasant things we have come across here so far!