Texas can make it without the United States, but the United States cannot make it without Texas!
– Sam Houston, President of the Republic of Texas
A Long Hot Summer
So I ended up in Texas for the summer. It’s not California, but hey it’s halfway to the West Coast. I’m getting there. I flew out in early June after a summer of working with my Dad and settled in for 10 weeks of research. I didn’t really know what to expect or how the summer would end up. In the end, I enjoyed my time in the great state of Texas and learned a lot. My “research” ended up being more like software development. Without going into that much detail, I worked on developing an android app to help consumers reduce energy consumption and be rewarded by utility companies. Check out my seelio (www.seelio.com/alexryan) if this sounds interesting to you. Overall, my summer was pretty chill but here’s a look at some of the highlights.
Friends Old & New
Heading out to Texas was like starting my freshman year at Clemson… I knew nobody. The only connection I had to Texas A&M was that my best friend had done the same program the previous summer. Time to make new friends. But lucky for me, I had Clemson friends visit me over the first few weeks of my time at Texas A&M. Not even a week in, this crew rolled up late one night after driving literally 1000 miles from Clemson. That’s how much they love me – well, at least that’s what I told myself.
It was the first leg of their month long road trip across America. So glad they stopped by on their way through Texas. Two weeks later my neighbor at Clemson drove down from Dallas to stay for a weekend. I really struggled finding things for us to do for the whole weekend; luckily she had a couple of friends in college station that we hung out with. As summer rolled on, I made some new friends as well – but we’ll get to that in a moment.
Plugging into a new local church was one of the things I looked forward to the most. After a quick google search, I found a church called Brazos Fellowship. From what I could tell, they seemed pretty similar to the startup church that I’m involved with at Clemson – just a couple of years down the road. I met up with the producer after one weekend and asked about where I could serve. When he mentioned lighting as an option, I jumped on the opportunity. Yes.
Their lighting setup was really solid for being a relatively new church, so I was pumped that I would get to play with the lights. Before my first weekend on lights, I came in during the weekday to get my head around their lighting controller. Other than accidentally starting the hazer and getting jumpy at times, my first weekend went smoothly. One of the students from my research program came and loved it. Sweet.
Along with production, I also got involved with the college small group. Literally hours after I tweeted a picture of planning center about getting on for lighting, the college group pastor tweeted at me about the college group.
I ended up watching most of the US world cup games with the friends I made in the group. Speaking of, the World Cup was for sure another highlight of the summer. I watched all of the USA games at Buffalo Wild Wings and loved seeing the nation rallying behind our team.
Out of all the cities in Texas, Austin was the one I knew I had to go to. Over the summer, I went twice on back-to-back weekends. The city doesn’t disappoint.
The first weekend was with a group of friends I made through my research. We had a classic trip: BBQ, Barton Springs, SOCO, 6th Street and food trucks. Two west coast artists that I love were also in Austin, so I picked up tickets to see them at the North Door. A great day trip.
The following trip was a lot more involved and exciting. We started on July 4th by driving all the way to San Antonio. Apparently so did everyone else in Texas. We explored the Alamo (note to my grandmother: I remembered the alamo) and the River Walk before ending our day with the huge fireworks show. That night we drove north to a motel near Pedernales Falls State Park. We spent all of Saturday exploring the park and swimming/cliff jumping at a small swimming hole. The water felt great in the Texas heat. We then drove to Austin, grabbed dinner, and walked down 6th street. On Sunday, we explored the capitol and walked around UT. But the highlight of the whole trip was dinner at The Oasis. Check out the pic above.
So that’s about it for this summer. Texas was a great host, but I definitely won’t miss the heat. I’m for sure going to miss the friends I made.