Miles driven: 351
After 11 days on the road, we were all anxious to get home. But one of us was SUPER excited about a certain destination along the way.
It's no secret that Ryan is OBSESSED with the TV show Survivor. When he realized that our trip would take us within a few miles of Tyler, he used his connections to set up a meeting with Coby Archa. Coby, a contestant on Survivor: Palau (season 10), owns a salon in Tyler, so we planned to meet up with him there. Since Tyler is also my hometown, this stop was a no-brainer.
Once that plan was made, we were heck-bent to get to Tyler on time. With a 5+ hour drive ahead of us, we left Baton Rouge plenty early to make sure we weren't late.
After that long trek up the length of Louisiana, we finally crossed the border. It was SO good to see this sign:
We were way early for our Survivor encounter, so we made a few required Tyler stops. We drove past my parents' old house, and then we paid a visit to the cemetery where my dad is buried.
It was obvious that it'd been a long time since my mom had visited. When she was in better health, she would drive over occasionally to visit friends and replace the flowers on Daddy's grave. (Before leaving Tyler we stopped at Big Lots to buy some new silk flowers for the vase.)
Seeing Brett and the kids at the cemetery always fills me with sadness. I hate that Brett met him only a week before Daddy died, and Ryan and Katie? It's terrible that they never knew their granddaddy. (In spite of my mom's poor health, we never would've dreamed we'd all be back at that cemetery within five weeks to bury her. Ugh.)
It's a great used bookstore that seems to have much of the same inventory it did back in the '90s when we used to be in town more often!
With the "old" out of the way, we were ready for the "new." Chuy's of Austin, our favorite restaurant, opened in Tyler a while back. This was our chance to indulge in the creamy jalapeno in my own hometown.
After all those years of driving to ATX for Chuy's, it was crazy to enjoy my bean and cheese stuffed sopapilla in TYLER.
So we paid our respects, supported a local business and filled our bellies with our favorite Tex-Mex. But the best was yet to come...