Our Texas Trip


According to Google Maps, we traveled 1164 miles, and drove for 18 hours and 5 minutes during our 3 weeks in Texas.

Each state we visit, we will choose at least one point of interest from each of the following categories: Famous Person, Famous Food, Road Side Attraction, State Capitol & State Museum, National Park, Historic Location, Can't Miss Attraction, and Made in the USA Tour. Some of the categories may have more than one selection, and sometimes a category will be vacant due to the lack of a candidate. Please click on the links below for the corresponding blog related our experiences in Texas over the past week.

Famous Person: Joel Osteen; Pastor at Lakewood Church

Famous Food: Round Rock Donuts, Arlo’s Food Truck

Roadside Attraction: Billy Bob’s Texas: World’s Largest Honky-Tonk

State Capitol/Museum: Austin

National Park: San Antonio Missions

Historic Location: 6th Floor Museum, Great Galveston Hurricane of 1900

Can't miss attraction: NASA Johnson Space Center

Made in the USA tour: Houston Food Bank

Please view our previous blog posts for the past 3 weeks for further explanations of our experiences in Texas.

A breakdown of our expenses of the past week are as follows:

Gas $ 324.00

$ 2.06 gal. in El Paso, TX was the lowest price paid.

$ 2.45 gal. in Livingston ,TX was highest price paid.

Comments:

We did a lot of driving in Texas

Groceries: $384.00

Walmart $171.00

Costco $213.00

Comments:

We bought a lot of groceries in Texas!!!

Dining out $170.00

Pizza Hut $15.00 (Unbudgeted and average)

Starbucks $18.00 (Tea X6 in exchange for free WIFI)

Costco Pizza $6.00 (Unbudgeted and average)

Costco Pizza $8.00 (Unbudgeted and average)

Costco Pizza $6.00 (Unbudgeted and average)

Costco Pizza $6.00 (Unbudgeted and average)

Arlo’s $27.00 (The best veggie burger in the world)

Round Rock $8.00 (Texas Sized Donut)

Cici Pizza $14.00 (Unbudgeted and average)

Cici Pizza $14.00 (Unbudgeted and average)

Cici Pizza $14.00 (Unbudgeted and average)

V Eats $34.00 (Disappointing vegan meal)

Comments:

We ate out WAY too much in Texas!!!

Entertainment: $116.00

Redbox $12.00 (Movies x6)

NASA $60.00 (Admission x2 budgeted expense)

Hurricane Movie $12.00 (Admission x2 budgeted expense)

6th Floor Museum $32.00 (Admission x2 budgeted expense)

Comments:

We did great in this category again!

Lodging: $199.00

Walmart $0.00 (Slept in parking lot x7 nights)

Camping $88.00 (Camping x3 nights)

Motel $111.00 (2 night Christmas gift to ourselves)

Comments:

We spent more on paid lodging than usual, but was unavoidable.

Miscellaneous: $51.00

Parking $37.00

Book $14.00 (Joel Olsteen’s new book ½ off)

Comments:

We spent a lot of time in cities equating to a higher than average parking expense

Texas Expenses Grand Total: $ 1244.00

Not bad for spending 3 weeks in the state!!!

(Our expense list does not include re-occurring expenses such as insurance and cellphone etc. )

Is Texas Our New Home State?

Here are the rules:

Below are the 5 categories that are important to us in choosing our new home state. Each category is rated from 1 to 10 based on our personal experience in no particular order. 1 is the lowest and 10 is the highest for each category. Each category will receive 2 scores; 1 from Lori and 1 from Nate. The average of these two scores will determine the final score for each category. To determine a state’s final score, we will average the total score of each category. If a state’s final score is less than 8, then that state is eliminated from consideration. At the end of our year long cross country trip, the states that scored 8 or higher will be subject to further consideration. In addition, Lori and I each have 1 wild card option, which allows a state that otherwise would have been eliminated, to be considered as our new home state.

Economy:

Nate: 10

“Texas has the 2nd largest economy in the US, and is home to over 51 Fortune 500 companies! The Lone Star State is a top film making state, home to the largest medical center in the world, features thriving tourism, a global leader in energy production, leader in computer development, leads the world in aeronautics, and leads the nation in farms and ranches. Anyone else noticing a recurring pattern?”

Lori: 10

“The Texas government not only has a surplus, they have a 10 billion dollar rainy day fund. We like a state with a balanced budget, and a savings account for the unexpected! Go Texas!”

Economy score: 10

Cost of Living:

Nate: 7

“Although Texas has a 0% income tax, the state features a 8.25% sales tax after local surcharges, and has the 4th highest property taxes in the nation.

Lori: 10

“As of 2016, compared to the national average: Housing is 10% cheaper, food was 15% cheaper, and gas is 10% cheaper in Texas! Now I know why Texans love their state!”

Cost of living score: 8.5

Quality of life:

Nate: 2

“Texas has the worst tap water in the US, and gas and oil production contribute nauseating air pollution”

Lori: 2

“Texas Ranks #1 in the US for natural disasters which include tornadoes, hurricanes floods and wildfires. The state's violent crime rate is 4.34 higher than the natural average of 3.8! EEEEEK!”

Quality of life score: 2

Culture:

Nate: 9

“A Texas BBQ is an all-day event…Sometimes all weekend! The state boasts breathtaking gulf coast beaches, rodeos, and multitude of music festivals in any and every genre! Regarding sports, if it uses a ball, stick, mat, club, helmet, racquet, pool, referee or pit crew, the Lone Star State has you covered. In addition, Texans have the most state pride of any state we have visited thus far! They fly their state flag everywhere, the shape of the state is on everything, and purposefully make everything big, because that is what Texas is known for!”

Lori: 9

“The Lone Star State is not just a gas and oil giant! In 2017, Texas generated 18% of its energy from wind and solar, and ranks 7th in the nation for renewable energy. In addition, Texans are the most genuine, courteous and friendly people we have encountered on our trip! Go Texas!”

Culture Score: 9

Environment:

Nate: 8

“Texas is so big it offers urban, suburban, and rural in almost any geographical, demographic, and climate you desire!”

Lori:6

“Texas had very aggressive drivers, poorly signed roads, and Michelle our GPS recognized very few streets and was rendered useless. However, the roads were well maintained, there was little traffic, very few traffic circles and the roads system had unique U-turns promoting the flow of traffic.”

Environment Score: 7

The verdict is in:

The final score for Texas was 7.3, and since it scored less than 8, it will NOT be our new home state. However, Lori and Nate each have 1 wild card, which allows a state that otherwise would have been eliminated, to be considered as our new home. For the first time on our year long cross country journey, the wild card option has been invoked. Nate has chosen to give his wild card to Texas, and below are his reasons.

Nate

“As you can see from the scoring, there is a lot to like about Texas. More specifically, Lori and I loved the greater Houston area! The primary reason Texas scored less than 8 was due to the low score in the “quality of life” category. However, Texas is the 2nd largest state in the country, and upon closer examination, the states sheer size skewed the results in the aforementioned category. For example, Texas Ranks 1# in the US for natural disasters, which include tornadoes, hurricanes, floods and wildfires. Hurricanes are a big threat in Texas with a major landfall averaging once every 15 years. However, there is always advanced warning for hurricanes! As current vandwellers, and future tiny homeowners, we can easily evacuate before landfall occurs!

Although Texas has over 226 tornadoes a year, most of the tornadoes in Texas occur in the Red Rock Region in Northern Texas where we are not interested in living. Most of the tornadoes occurring in Harris Country (greater Houston area) are weak and are secondary to hurricanes, in which case we would have already evacuated and driven away. Regarding the poor tap water quality, we already filter all of our water with the best filter on the market, and can filter our shower water too. The air pollution was worse in western Texas than eastern Texas! The higher than average violent crime rate is concerning. However, Texas is a border state resulting in an increase in crime, but the state has a lengthy history of being extremely tough on crime. Although Texas ranks 18th in the nation for gun ownership, Texans are not required to register their firearms with the ATF, gun ownership is likely much higher! Texans can defend themselves! For the above reasons Texas deserves to be considered as our potential new home.”

Texas now advances to the next round, and joins Michigan, Oregon, and Colorado as one of the states which may be our new home!

Below are the current standings:

Colorado 9.2

Michigan 8.3

Oregon 8.2

Ohio 7.6

Indiana 7.4

Texas 7.3 (NATE’S WILD CARD)

South Dakota 7.1

North Dakota 6.9

Washington 6.9

Virginia 6.6

Wyoming 6.5

Arizona 6.5

Pennsylvania 6.5

Idaho 6.1

West Virginia 6.0

California 5.9

Nevada 5.8

Nebraska 5.7

Utah 5.0

Kentucky 4.9

Wisconsin 4.5

New Mexico 4.5

Minnesota 4.2

Montana 4.1

Missouri 3.5

Iowa 3.3

Illinois 1.9

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