This past Sunday morning, I decided to do another cross-country flight. Although I didn’t have too much time to spare since I had plans back in Dallas that afternoon, I still got to do a short trip to one of my favorite cities in the state – Waco.
Most recognized for being the home of Baylor University, Waco sits about 95 miles south of D-town and 100 miles north of Austin. Although it may be known as just a college town, or the site of the infamous Branch Davidian siege, this city of just under 135,000 people boasts many attractions. I checked out two on this trip – the Waco Suspension Bridge and Texas State Technical College.
Although the Suspension Bridge is located close to the downtown area, parking is still widely available for free in any of the nearby lots. There was a marathon going on that day but I was still able to get in and look around.
Listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, this bridge has been around since 1870. It was originally designed so cattle and stagecoaches could cross the Brazos River during the Chisholm Trail days. At the time it was completed, it was the longest of its kind west of the Mississippi River!
With the cattle drive days long gone, the bridge is now only used for pedestrian traffic. It connects two of Waco’s parks: the Indian Spring Park on the southwest and the Doris Miller Park on the northeast. This entire area seemed to be a popular gathering place for many, and plenty of folks were out here on this nice Sunday morning.
Underneath the bridge is the Waco Riverwalk, a seven-mile trail that parallels the banks of the Brazos and goes all the way across IH-35 to the Texas Rangers Museum and Baylor. Plenty of benches and resting spots make it a great place to enjoy nature.
I had been to Waco many times before this, and had even passed here once or twice, but never thought of stopping. I’m glad I did – it is worth a visit!
My next destination was Texas State Technical College. TSTC is a public, two-year community college/trade school on the grounds of the TSTC Waco Airport, also formerly known as James Connally Air Force Base. I have landed there before twice, but never did any exploring. Being that there aren’t many colleges on the grounds of an airport, I figured it would be worth the ten-minute drive over to take a look. Sadly, I was wrong. Except for one building that looked modern, the rest of the college wasn’t impressive in the least. Various old buildings were serving as classrooms, and there wasn’t much of a modern feel to the place. Having seen many community colleges across the state, this was a real disappointment, as they could have done such a better job with all the resources(namely land) they have. The airport itself is nice though. In addition to general aviation use, L3 Aerospace Systems is one of the primary users of the field, performing aircraft modifications and other related services for the military.
Departing TSTC, it was back on IH-35 headed for Waco Regional Airport to fly back home. The city’s primary airport, located fifteen minutes away from downtown by car, is a very well designed and uncongested field equipped with two runways and a control tower. In addition to two private aircraft terminals, American Eagle serves the airport with nonstop jet service to DFW. Sunday morning the airport was very quiet except for a Learjet landing when I was taxiing out. Once I got airborne, my flight back to Dallas took about 45 minutes.
This short excursion went fairly well. I am already thinking about my next visit to Bear Country to see some more places, like the Waco National Mammoth Site and the Dr. Pepper Museum!