Meeting Joe’s family + exploring the sights of Dallas

Hello friends! I’m currently blogging from Texas, where Joe and I spent the last few days. This trip is dedicated to visiting Joe’s family and meeting them in person for the first time. Overall this trip has been full of activity and fun as Joe’s family has been beyond warm and welcoming. I’ve really enjoyed spending quality time with everyone while also exploring the Dallas area. There’s a lot to share this time so let’s dive right in:

Friday: Chill day in Allen + house sitting + meeting the extended family

Joe and I flew into Dallas on Thursday evening and we drove to his parent’s house in Allen (45 minutes from Dallas). Immediately I was welcomed with open arms by Joe’s mom, dad, and sister, and I felt right at home. 🙂

Friday was our first full day, and it was mostly a chill day as we were still a little tired from the travel. We spent the day hanging out at the house playing with the adorable pets.

In the evening, I house-sat while Joe and his family attended a memorial service. Luckily the furry cuties kept me company. Afterwards, some of Joe’s extended family came by the house and I got to meet everyone. We had some dinner and snacks and enjoyed the evening together. Overall, it was the perfect, low-key day I needed before a weekend of activity. 🙂

Saturday: Allen dam + barbecue lunch + exploring downtown Dallas + Anna’s birthday party

I woke up Saturday feeling great, and Joe and I decided to spend the day hitting all his local favorites. In the morning, we took a walk at the Allen dam. It was a spacious, historic water station with walking trails under the trees. Joe knows nature is my happy spot. 🙂

There was a walking bridge over the dam where we spotted turtles in the water.

Joe and I enjoyed the morning walking on the trails, which eventually led us directly to our lunch spot, Rudy’s BBQ. Of course we needed to eat some BBQ while in Texas. 😛 The banana pudding was divine.

After an active morning and food coma, we headed back to the house to rest. We didn’t stay for long as we made the drive out to explore downtown Dallas. I had been to Dallas a few times for work, and each time it was in the heat of summer and I could barely be outside for 5 minutes. This time, the weather was much milder and I could actually enjoy the sights of Dallas…and I must say, it didn’t disappoint. The city is very modern and clean, and gave me similar vibes to Chicago summers.

Our first stop was the Dallas aquarium, which was actually more of an entire vertical ecosystem than an aquarium. There were multiple levels starting with the cloud forest up top, the canopy forest in the middle, and the vast sea underneath. There was so much diversity in the plants and animals – birds, reptiles, snakes, monkeys, sharks…you name it.

Joe and I took our time weaving through each level. We enjoyed nerding out on the plants as much as the animals.

After the aquarium, we got a snack and relaxed at a park.

Next, we visited the John F. Kennedy memorial, the spot where he was assassinated. It was a peaceful part of the city and reminded me of the memorials in Washington D.C. We enjoyed sitting by the fountains and watching the sunset.

For dinner, we met up with Joe’s sister, Anna. It was Anna’s birthday party and we were so excited to celebrate with her and her friends. The spot they picked was super upbeat – it was an open plaza with a grassy seating area, food trucks selling drinks, live country music, all illuminated under the city lights. I just loved the atmosphere as it kind of gave me southeast Asia vibes. It definitely gave me a new appreciation for Dallas as you definitely can’t find something like this in San Francisco.

We got a table for our group right by the live music. Anna’s friends were such dears and inclusive towards me and Joe. I told Joe afterwards that I couldn’t believe how nice people from the South are. It felt like a breath of fresh air compared to the Bay Area where it can feel more cliquey.

Sunday: Barbecue with Joe’s family + kiddie time

The next morning, Joe and I eased into the day with a walk around the neighborhood and playing with the pets.

For lunch, we linked up with Joe’s parents at a local taco spot. Tex-mex was also on the top of our food list for this trip. Joe’s parents were so warm and treated me like part of the family the whole weekend. I’m grateful for all the quality time we spent in and out of the house. ❤

The tacos were really tasty. And of course some queso and sweet tea to make it a southern meal. 🙂

In the afternoon, Lori (Joe’s mom) organized an impromptu family gathering at the house, which meant I got to meet Joe’s older brother and his family. I’m so happy these plans came together as I loved soaking in the warm family atmosphere. We all hung out in the back yard with the kids as they were the main fun. 🙂

Joe was a super uncle and it warmed my heart seeing him play with the kids. He kept up with them the whole afternoon, running around and making them laugh.

I got in some kiddie time too. 🙂 I was pleasantly surprised that the little niece already knew me as Joe’s brother and sister-in-law had shown her my picture. I was so touched! Funny enough…instead of “Charlotte” she pronounced my name “Char-ted”, which seemed to stick. 😛

We grilled burgers and ate dinner together, and then it was time to send the kiddies home. Perfect end to a fun-packed weekend.

Afterwards, Joe and I packed our bags and we moved to and Airbnb to have a dedicated space to work this week. We’re here for one more week and I’m excited to spend more time with Joe’s family and friends, especially since it’s hard to find the time since we live so far. I really couldn’t ask for a better welcome to Texas. 🙂

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