A few months back, we road-tripped from Michigan to Texas. We spent many hours on the road (obviously), made many pit stops for a small boy to use the bathroom, snagged many snacks from gas stations, listened to a lot of music and had some in-depth conversations.
That said, we also had sore muscles from sitting in the same position for hours, bleary eyes from staring at the road, exhaustion from staying alert for so long and a four-year-old boy who is an excellent car traveler, but also grew very tired of being alone in the backseat.
So, we were not eager to be back on the road anytime soon, and yet, we found ourselves making our way back to our last stop before arriving back home in Houston. We had driven to St. Louis the first night, and then decided to break up the last leg of the trip. We weren’t in a hurry after all, and could afford to stop and have one night in a bed & breakfast before driving the final three hours.
The town we stopped in was Jefferson, Texas. The first time we visited, we arrived too late in the evening to do much other than have a little takeout meal in our room and split a bottle of wine to toast the almost-end of the road trip. But it was such a sweet little place, such a Mayberry-esque hamlet that we decided we must go back sometime to explore it properly.
Recently we had that opportunity. A group trip to Vegas fell through, and we were left with the desire to go somewhere and so, to Jefferson we went. We arrived just before noon to a perfect Texas day – sunshine and ice cream and vintage stores stacked on top of antiques stores, right next to the cutest little restaurants. There was a petting zoo downtown with baby donkeys and ponies, goats and lop-eared rabbits. Tortoises and ducks milled around next to guinea pigs and alpacas. The four-year-old was in heaven. Next door to the petting zoo was a double-decker bus purchased at auction all the way from England that is now a cupcake shop and ice cream parlor. If there is such a thing as a transcendent experience for a child, then this was surely it.
My partner and I spent most of our day trading off carrying a very heavy boy, during an increasing amount of shopping. Jefferson is a small town, but it is so filled with history and hauntings and interesting little boutiques and strange little museums, one can hardly walk ten feet without seeing an historical marker designating this house as the former residence of someone notable, or this storefront as having some relevance to the town’s story.
It’s a beautiful little place – small houses with intricate woodwork all lined up like dollhouses or models for wedding cakes. We had dinner in an old hotel that used to host visitors who arrived by riverboat or steamboat back in the town’s heyday. Ghosts are said to also reside in the old hotel and they don’t seem eager to leave. One can hardly blame them, as every detail in Jefferson seems to show pride in the town’s past and present, inviting visitors to love the city as much as the residents clearly do.
And it was in this place, this special little spot that amidst the magnolia tree blossoms and the smothering Texas humidity, my partner proposed to me. A sweet little town that is now our sweet little town, where our own memories and history join that of Jefferson and its residents, ghostly or otherwise.