Our daughter is attending grad school far far away in Waco TX, and we miss her terribly. Fortunately, she usually comes home for a visit at least twice a year. Unfortunately, that is not enough Sarah-time, so her Dad and I try to visit at least once a year. Most recently, my sister and I visited her over a year ago during spring break, Wally visited early last summer while I was in Europe, and then my husband and I made a quick stop in August during our three-week road trip.
This year I am planning a trip to Elk Grove, CA to visit my aunt, so Wally will head to Waco to visit Sarah. He and Sarah were supposed to check their schedules, locate hopefully reasonable airfare and book the flight. As usual, I had to light a fire under them. I sent them both text messages when airfare dropped, proposed dates to each of them and begged each to contact the other to plan, plan, plan. All for naught. Airfare dropped again the other day, so I took the bull by the horns, checked our schedule, asked Sarah to consult hers, and bought the tickets. Mission accomplished!
Sarah and Wally have already had quite a few special experiences together. They drove a U-Haul (towing Sarah's car) to Texas when Sarah relocated. They went to Disney World during one spring break, and to the Schlitterbahn Waterpark (voted the nation's number one waterpark) during another daddy-daughter visit. On yet another trip, they visited the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Note that I, her beloved mother, have never been to any of those places. But that's OK! I am so grateful they have such fun together and enjoy each other's company.
Which is very long lead-in to my story.
I was standing in a long line at the checkout counter when a magazine caught my eye: The South's Most Scenic Drives by Southern Living. I bought the magazine, thinking Wally and I might enjoy some of the "55 Memorable Road Trips!" during our next road trip to Texas.
Imagine my surprise in finding that one of the scenic drives is in the Waco area! I thought this might be a fun outing for Wally and Sarah during the upcoming visit. The destination is Homestead Heritage Crafts Village, "A Century Away from Dallas"; "Visit the take-your-time world of handcrafting in a tiny village." The village sounds beautiful, and includes a working forge, a gristmill, a potter's house, a cafe and a barn where you can watch hand crafted furniture items being created. The village also offer classes, so I could picture Wally (who is a closet pyromaniac) working the forge, or Sarah throwing a pot. Fun, huh?
I decided to check the cost and availability of classes on the internet. As I typed the name of the village in the search engine, the auto-fill recommended the following: "homestead heritage cult", "homestead heritage beliefs", "homestead heritage church." Now they have my attention! Of course, I absolutely must select the "cult" suggestion and consequently find a whole slew of newspaper articles, opinion pieces, blog posts and web pages. Many of the listings compare the village to another famous cult in Waco, but others just list a litany of supposed-offenses, ranging from corporal punishment, to sexual abuse, to child abuse. I read quite a few of the accusations, and not quite as many rebuttals. Nevertheless, I'm thinking if it looks like a pig, and smells like a pig...well, you know what I mean. Take a look for yourself here. Needless to say, Homestead Heritage Crafts Village is obviously not the idyllic location it's made out to be in the magazine. Although, to be fair, the village probably is as advertised "...a retreat to simplicity." Just depends on what kind of simple life you're looking for!
I don't think I can recommend this scenic drive to Wally and Sarah...they're better off doing their own planning!