Texas State Flag

Last year my little sister, China, enlisted in the United States Air Force. She was sent to Lackland AFB in San Antonio, Texas for boot camp. On November 11, 2016, which happened to be Veteran’s Day, she graduated and our whole family flew in to celebrate. All of her hard work, discipline and dedication paid off. After months apart, I finally got to see her and the transformation was astonishing. She stood a little taller, her presence was known. She had a quiet sense of authority – like she had come of age in the three short months away.

This gave me the chance to travel to south. I’ve never been to The Lone Star State and I don’t like passing up a good opportunity to tour new territory. I was only there for a few day’s, but managed to packed a lot in. San Antonio is a pretty cool city with a lot to offer. Because the Air Force base is so close, the city is overflowing with military personnel. It was nice to see all the young men and women who have chosen to defend our country. I’ve never felt so patriotic!

Here’s a recap of my trip to San Antonio.

Day 1

Thursday, November 10th 2016.

I boarded a 6:00am flight from Cleveland, Ohio to San Antonio, Texas. I arrived at the airport and met my mom and dad, we rented a SUV and drove to our airbnb. The place we rented was so nice and accommodating. It was my very first airbnb experience – and now I see why people love it. It’s so much more personal to rent a home and live somewhere new, even if it’s just for a day.

Day 2

Friday, November 11th 216

We woke up bright and early Friday morning. On graduation day we made our way to Lackland Air Force Base for their graduation day ceremony parade. My family and I watched each Airman reaffirm their “Oath of Enlistment” and march in unison around the field. After the parade there was a squadron open house where we got to visit China’s dormitory. The dorm was an open room with rows of cots and lockers. Everything in it’s place, no corner untucked.

Airmen at Lackland AFB

That afternoon all Airmen were allowed a Town Pass to leave the base. My family and I left the base and headed for downtown San Antonio. The city is filled with old stone structures like walkways and churches. The most famously know attraction is San Antonio’s Riverwalk. The Riverwalk is made up of concrete walkways along the San Antonio River that run one level under the streets of the city. It’s lined with unique shops and restaurants.

Three women at riverwalk

We stopped along the way to grab lunch at La Paloma. The restaurant had a nice outdoor dinning area where we could people watch while enjoying southwestern cuisine. Across the river from our restaurant appeared a dock for boat rides. Everywhere you looked there were young men and women dressed in their military blues. You could tell they were recent grands with their parents, spouses and children. Good and stuffed, we continueGroup photo at riverwalkd up the river till we hit Ripley’s Believe It or Not Odditorium. Have you ever been to one? They’re very outlandish to say the least. Ripley must have been a strange individual. However, there was this really cool tunnel we all tried to walk though. While you’re walking on a stationary ramp, the entire tunnel around you is moving. It makes me dizzy just thinking about it. I felt like I was drunk, clinging to the side rails the entire time.

As the evening went on the sun began to set and the Riverwalk seemed to come alive. Each bar and restaurant along the bank lit up with strings of bulb lights and neon signs. The red, yellow, green and blue lights bounced off the river and created a beautiful reflection. Our fun was cut short that night because all Airman had to be back on base by 8:00pm sharp. As soon as our 3D show at Ripley’s was over we packed in the SUV had headed towards Lackland.

Day 3

Saturday, November 12th 2016

On Saturday China was allowed back out on a Town Pass to visit with family. My mother picked her up just after 10:00am and brought her back to the house. This was China’s first time seeing our accommodations at the casa. She could finally kick back and relax. Undo the garter belt a little!

That afternoon, China, Kelsey and I took the SUV and headed to the North Star Mall. The poor girl has been reduced to shopping at the BX for the last three months. The BX or Exchange is a shopping center on base that houses a few food chains and a couple convenient stores. There’s a Subway, Starbucks, and Popeyes in the food-court and a barber shop, shoe shine, T-shirt shop, and tactical gear store in the “mall”. Needless to say, China could use some retail therapy. The North Star Mall is a lot like your typically metropolitan mall. It carried stores like Dillard’s, Macy’s, and Saks Fifth Avenue, but the real draw for me was the larger than life pair of cowboy boots mounted outside the parking lot. I guess it’s true – Everything is bigger in Texas!

After conquering the mall, the girls and I went back to the house for a little R&R before curfew.

Day 4

Sunday, November 13th 2016

My last day in San Antonio. I had to pack up all of my belongings and get ready for the airport. For me, it was a short trip. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get away from work for too long but I wanted to go to Texas and support my sister. The rest of my family stayed a few more days in San Antonio. They were able to take a day trip to Austin, TX and got more shopping in. I got a ride to the airport, departed on Southwest Airlines and arrived back in Ohio late Sunday night.

San Antonio was awesome! I had so much fun there; now I can check Texas off my list of states I’ve been to. Not only did I get to visit a new city, but I gained so many great memories in a short amount of time. My only regret was that I didn’t take enough pictures! This one speaks for its self. You can see the candid, genuine smile on all their faces.

Selfie taken at Lackland Air Force Base

Where to next?

See more of my travels. Read about my college study abroad trip to China and South Korea.