Sunday, February 5, 2012

Day Trip to My Sister and Abilene, Texas

Yesterday I visited my sister in Abilene, Texas.

For those of you who don't know about Abilene, Texas, I don't blame you, but bare with me. Located in middle of Texas, even though it's regarded as west Texas, Abilene can either be described as a large town or a small city, but for all intense purposes, it's where my sister lives. Along the drive from Fort Worth to Abilene, I past through several small towns with their meager motels and gas station passing as a downtown, and by all accounts, Abilene is a city; there's a mall and everything, but it's also rooted with its open pastures and 'small-town' historic district downtown.

We started the day at Abilene's finest edible pet shop, McKay's Bakery. With their bright-eyed cupcakes shaped in love bugs, cookie monsters, and frog princes, it's hard not to become attached in your endeavor to find the perfect breakfast or lunch companion. They were all so charming and colorful and delicious. Consumers would crouch at the glass counter and patiently glance through their selection before gleefully pointing at their choice. The baker would smile and carefully wrap their pet before gently placing them into a paper bag. I'm not going to lie to you, it's slightly disturbing to cut into a frog prince as it stares up at you, but trust me when I say that it's worth it. Also, it should be noted that McKay's has cakes, pies, and scrumptious sandwiches. It's not to be missed.

Don't become too attached.

It's probably just guilt, but he looked more nervous after we brought him home.

Afterwards, we visited the 12th Armored Division Memorial Museum. Throughout its rich history, Abilene served as one of the final training grounds for soldiers during World War II before shipping to Europe. Although the building looked a little small, and empty at the time, the two story museum provided a plethora of photos, descriptions, artifacts, and displays to honor the veterans and educate the public. And on the grounds outside, the museum displayed armored vehicles, parts of vehicles, and a tank.

Vehicles that you only see in video games. And 'Captain America.'

At times it's hard for me not idolize the past and the brave soldiers involved, but the photos provided a human aspect that spoke beyond the glory of video games and movies, and they reiterated that the soldiers were just citizens doing their best for a cause that they readily believed in. Sometimes its easy to forget that memorial museums aren't meant to idolize the dead but remember them and their causes, and we're not meant to glorify their actions, but follow their example and not take our lives for granted. Also, I thought the museum had a good but small section devoted to the German soldiers, and with their similar clothes and arms, it exemplified that they were just soldiers too. Side note, there's a room devoted to the prisoners of war and the holocaust, and although I thought it was a deep and powerful exhibit, you should trust the two bold signs at the door that says some of the pictures maybe too graphic for children. Sometimes photos aren't just pieces of the past, but reminders of things that should never be forgotten.

Awkward segue.

We tried to visit a children's library, but it was closed due to remodeling. Fortunately, I was able to take pictures of a demon horse and the Loch Ness monster. Apparently, he was in Abilene, Texas. Bet you didn't look there.

Always use VW Bugs as bait.

It's not the camera, he literally has red eyes.

Due to the flat, open plains, Abilene, Texas is usually windy, and yesterday was no exception. So we decided to drive around until my sister found a vintage toy store. Unfortunately, I don't remember the name of the store, but if you're curious, drive around and look for a big sign that says 'TOYS.' And don't feel bad if you pass it; the store was on the passenger side and I missed it. Fortunately, my sister has a knack for finding toy stores, it goes way back.

Although it was a small store, there was a variety of classic toys that lined the walls and counters from star wars to transformers. Personal favorite pieces included vintage ninja turtle figures, which I'm sure my parents threw away years ago, and plush pokemon hanging along the back of the store. I'm always a little curious how places like the vintage toy store stay in business, but I commend the friendly thirty-something year old behind the counter for attempting to preserve our childhood.

It was still a little chilly when we left the store, but my sister decided to take me to one of Abilene's most cherished attractions. Inside the public park across the street from the playground sat a large concrete pen about waist high. And inside the pen was a colony of prairie dogs. What?!? Prairie Dogs. Cute, adorable, slightly skittish prairie dogs.


And unlike most domesticated animals that have been inclosed all of their lives and surrounded by mounds of food, these prairie dogs were paranoid. Along the four hundred meter loop, there were several prairie dogs on duty above their burrows
ready to shriek and inform the others about approaching predators. And they shrieked, a lot. One prairie dog would lunged skyward and shrieked until its front paws touched the ground, and then another one would shriek, and then another one shrieked until the call made it from one side of the pen to the other. It was so cute, it was like, 'Panic!' ... 'Panic!' ... 'Panic!'

Of all the places we went yesterday, the prairie dogs easily had the most pictures.

After visiting the house of barking rodents, we drove past Buffalo Gap, a small town that inclosed majority of their old downtown buildings inside an attraction called 'Buffalo Gap Historic Village' where visitors can walk inside the old courthouse and vintage shops that once populated the town. And although it sounded like an interesting way of preserving the past, my sister said it's a little scary to walk through the village when it's empty, and I personally thought that it could easily have been a pocketed entrance into the twilight zone. All kidding aside, it looked pretty cool and hopefully I can visit it another time.

Past Buffalo Gap we drove a little further through the open fields and burly, self sufficient cows until we arrived at the state park that my sister visits from time to time. Once there we walked the mile and a half trail and talked about little things and our childhood together. It was pleasant and slightly nostalgic because it reminded me of the trails near our parents' house before they cut down the surrounding trees.

Overall, the visit made me think about how we hold onto the past. Whether its through comfort food like cupcakes or ninja turtle action figures, it's nice to view the past as a tangible thing that we can hold onto and perceive as all that we once valued. And although it's not healthy to idolize the past as a glorious time that we'll never get back, we should view the past as the foundation that has shaped our lives today and it's something that we can keep with us in the future.

I'm glad that I visited Abilene, Texas, and I'm grateful to have a sister who I can share my past, present, and future with.

And we watched 'Zombieland,' which was awesome.


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