July’s Resolution Destination was one that we had little control over. Working as an aircraft mechanic at Buckley Air Force Base in Colorado, Cameron had little say when he was told that he was required to spend six weeks at a training course in Wichita Falls, TX (apparently it takes six weeks to learn how to drive a refuel truck). And despite his best attempt to convince his superiors to send him to Texas any other time than right in the middle of summer, his orders came through that he was to report to Sheppard AFB on July 12th.
Not being on the top of our bucket list we were left wondering, who really wants to go to Wichita Falls, Texas?!! Oh, that’s right, nobody does! Least of all Cameron who spent 4 months there at the beginning of his Air Force career. He sincerely hoped he would never have to go back to that part of the country, but life has a funny way of delivering the unexpected. And then on top of it all, summer is not the most wonderful season to exchange time in Colorado for time in rural Texas. But, there was little choice in the matter. So, Cameron was off to spend six wonderful weeks at Sheppard AFB in North Texas.
We knew immediately when the assignment was made that there was no way we were going to be able to spend 6 whole weeks apart. After all, we’re still in young love. But it’s love none the less and we are fully committed to keeping up with our New Year’s Resolution. So, Corrie was happy (or did she just acquiesce?) to travel to a sleepy little town in the middle of July just so she could spend time with her man.
When we first found out that Cameron was sentenced to a summer away from home, in a miserable part of the country, he was quite deflated. Trying her hardest to make the best of less than ideal situation, Corrie immediately started researching ways to make our adventures continue while in Texas. Once she started leveraging Google, it was amazing what things she found to do in Wichita Falls. The lesson we learned here is that we have to make the most of our opportunities for adventure!! And it’s worth the effort!!
The Wichita Falls area is about 2 hours northwest of Dallas; as the saying goes, it’s not the middle of nowhere, but you can see it from there. Corrie had never stayed on an Air Force base and was excited to give it a try. She was eager to see all the young airman marching around in formation (mostly so she could heckle them) and jets roaring into the sky as fighter pilots trained for the real deal. What she didn’t realize is that Air Force bases tend to slow down on weekends, so all was quiet. But after 10 days apart, we were seriously missing each other and she was able to get over that minor disappointment quickly.
Saturday dawned, hot and muggy. We slept in of course, since there is no escaping the oppressive heat no matter how early you wake up (and let’s just say that Corrie is not a morning person and had trained Cameron accordingly). Once our feet hit the ground though, we were ready to start our day with full force. In order to fuel our bodies for the day of adventure that lie ahead of us we needed a good, hearty breakfast. Being in the south, and in a town full of chain restaurants, we knew there was only one logical choice… Cracker Barrel. Over the previous 10 days it had also become a staple for Cameron so he, of course, had to show it off to Corrie.
With full bellies, we were determined to explore everything we could find in Wichita Falls before the heat did us in for the day. We already had our top destination in mind (thanks again Google!) – the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame! Can you imagine a more fantastically cheesy tourist destination?? Right up our alley! The Hall of Fame is located in historic downtown Wichita Falls. We were excited to check out that area, as it looked like it might have some potential for being a cute downtown hotspot. We quickly discovered that historic downtown is actually made up of mostly vacant and abandoned buildings. Another strike for Wichita Falls.
As we strolled through the front door of the old bank building where the Hall of Fame now resides we were greeted to a huge collection of wrestling memorabilia. Cameron was quick to note that it that looked like it started as somebody’s obsessive and creepy collection in their basement. After standing in line behind a large man in a neon bandana and a sleeveless T-shirt describing his sons wrestling exploits to the disinterested desk clerk, we paid our two-dollar entrance fee. We’re still questioning if the cost was worth it. Because neither of us are big wrestling fans, and therefore much of the memorabilia lacked interest for us, The Hall of Fame only occupied us for about a half hour. It was worth a few laughs, but mostly it was just sort of creepy and awkward.
Once we had our fill of all things Pro Wrestling, we strolled a few hot, sweaty, blocks to a nearly empty farmers market and admired the delicious looking okra and tomatoes while trying to catch what little breeze we could under the canopy. However, we didn’t stay long as this was just a pit stop on our way to the city’s most famous landmark… The World’s Tiniest Skyscraper! A 4-story brick building, dwarfed by all the vacant high-rises in downtown. EXCITING! We snapped a quick photo, opted out of going inside and considered going to the nearby railroad museum. But by this time it was now a sweltering and humid 100+-degrees and we were both beginning to overheat.
We pulled the ejection handle and decided it was time to move on to a very refreshing adventure number 3.
Castaway Cove Waterpark, is what you would imagine a small-town waterpark to be. It occupied just a couple of acres, had only a handful of waterslides and was full of families trying to escape the weekend heat. We couldn’t wait to jump in! After paying our admission and renting a double-person tube we made a beeline for the lazy river – the perfect attraction for a couple that loves to wallow in water. It didn’t take us long to figure out that an over-filled tube meant for two people was not the most relaxing of choices for wallowing. But we made do with a variety of interesting positions. After a few hours of slides, the lazy river and Cameron getting his Dipping Dots, we had our fill and made our way back to base.
Wichita Falls is nobody’s dream destination, ok maybe some people enjoy living there, but we still made the best of a less than ideal situation, had fun and were grateful for the time spent together.
Before her trip to the bustling metropolis that is Wichita Falls, Corrie was excited to make a walk to the city’s namesake one of the weekend’s adventures. Yeah… a man-made, chintzy waterfall that sat next to the highway and had no water flowing over it was not what she had in mind, but ended up being the reality. So that adventure was quickly erased from the list. It was clear that we had seen everything Wichita Falls had to offer and decided that on day 2 we would spend a few hours in Dallas before Corrie’s flight home.
The night before we had searched for things we could do in Dallas (Google to the rescue again), and as we scrolled through countless options we were both stopped in our tracks at the sight of the perfect destination to end the weekend. Shining in big, black letters on Cameron’s phone screen – Ripley’s Believe It or Not! and Wax Museum.
After quick stop at the base coffee shop for a yummy breakfast of cold, unsliced bagels and generic cream cheese spread (where was Google for this one?!) – we were off. For the duration of the two-hour drive to Dallas Corrie couldn’t stop talking about how excited she was to see the shrunken heads (it all stems back to her brother in a very disturbing way).
And when we arrived, she was not disappointed. After walking through the circus-like front entrance the first item on display was a shrunken head! It was everything she had hoped for.
Walking through Ripley’s side of the building we were thrilled with all sorts of grotesque, creepy and odd novelty’s. And we had plenty of opportunities to make fun of each other. Okay, it was mostly Cameron laughing at Corrie as she fell for every trick that was presented.
Once we had explored all that Ripley had to offer we couldn’t resist heading the other side of the building to take a gander at the wax museum. As we explored we had a great time playing our own game of “who the hell is that??” as we passed by wax figures of Hollywood celebrities, political, and historical figures. Let’s just say the accuracy of the facial designs were fairly inaccurate in most cases. We also had even more chances to make fun of each other when we got to the section of US Presidents, since we happen to vote differently most of the time. To wrap up our wax museum tour we hit up their scary movie section, which was like a haunted house in July. Cameron learned that it’s probably best to never take Corrie to a real haunted house (what a wuss!).
Of course, we also had to hit the gift shop to commemorate July’s resolution destinations. Corrie picked up an awesome T-shirt at the Pro-Wrestling Hall of Fame and Cameron grabbed a nice coffee mug at Ripley’s. It’s kind of our thing, so that years from now we can continue to reflect on the memories and be constantly reminded to seek out new adventures in strange and unusual places. Wichita Falls will forever be remembered – with the hope that we never have to go back.
Destination Rating: 2.0 out of 5.0
What We Learned
- DO: create adventures for yourself even when you think there couldn’t possibly be anything worth doing. And keep an open mind about it all!
- DO: stop at Cracker Barrel when traveling in the rural south. The service is fast, the prices are great.
- DO: drink lots of water during summer days in North Texas. You’ll sweat it out as fast as you drink it.
- DO: rely on GoogleMaps if you’re not sure of where to go next.
- DON’T: go to Wichita Falls, TX unless you have no other choice (unless you’re the world’s biggest fan of Pro-Wrestling, then by all means, go!).
- DON’T: expect anything but chain restaurants in Wichita Falls, TX. There are few other options.
- DON’T: rent a two-person tube for a lazy river wallow.
- DON’T: scream at the countless kids that will try to steal your two-person tube every time you’re not sitting on it.