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Travel Blog of Mackenzie Jervis
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Military Nationals- Our Weekend Away

Before Steve and I were serious, I never even knew what powerlifting was. My gym-going and exercising were mostly jogging and some light weights, or just body weight to stay in shape for soccer. After soccer, I just continued jogging to keep from being completely out of shape.

When I got to know more about Steve’s style of working out, I grew more interested in seeing how much I could push my body. I started lifting this way while I was still living in Maryland and Steve was in New Mexico. We would talk about lifting but I was doing everything on my own. I started getting pretty strong- for me-, but it wasn’t until Steve and I started working out together that I actually lifted impressive- again for me- weights. This was both because he was there to push me to lift heavier (people at my Maryland gym would give me worried looks if I lifted a lot), and because I knew if I really couldn’t lift it, he would be there to make sure I didn’t die.

Where Steve and I differ in our powerlifting pursuits, is that he is actually strong. He competes and can really keep up with people. More than that, actually. He does really well and can usually outlift people of similar size. He’s done a few meets over the last year or so and with Military Nationals coming up just a few hours from us he definitely wanted to be involved.

This weekend was a test on both of us. I was 32 weeks pregnant at the time and while I’ve had a really easy pregnancy I still have some discomforts and the further along I get the more “issues” that I had. Steve was competing in a new federation with some strong guys so there was definitely a lot of pressure there.

We drove to Killeen Friday afternoon. Steve got out of a work a little early and we were able to take Dash to the kennel before we left. We had never put her in a kennel before and because she is so attached to us, especially me, I didn’t know how she’d be around new people- normally it takes her a good 3-4 days to warm up to someone enough to stop barking or pouncing around trying to “protect” us.

DashWell, apparently, she’s a “sweetheart” when we’re not there. The vet had to give her a bordatella vaccine before she could stay. Steve took her and when the vet bent down to give the vaccine in her mouth, Dash growled. The vet took her out to another room, away from Steve, and in one second the vet gave her the vaccine, with no growling, and let the vet pet her. If anyone has any advice on why our dog is a psycho when we’re around, just let me know because she stresses me right out.

After Steve left her, he came back to me crying about Dash. I wondered if she knew we loved her and if she thought we were leaving her at the pound because we don’t want her anymore. If this is how I act about my dog, I am going to be a nut when I have to put this child into school.


We drove to Killeen through small Texas back roads. The weather was warm and amazing. It seems that that was our spring because less than a week later we are in the 90s and I am looking less and less forward to the real summer months.

We got to Killeen after dark and checked into our hotel. No matter how many hotels I stay in, I still get excited to check out a new room. We stayed at The Courtyard near Ft. Hood. This is where the meet was taking place so it made it really convenient. We dropped our bags in the room and went next door to hands-down, one of my favorite places to eat: Panera.

You can laugh, but come on, it’s amazing. It has pretty much everything, it’s easy to order, is made with good ingredients, and is nowhere within two hours of Wichita Falls. We ate here like three times during the weekend and I’m not even ashamed.   I actually want to have a tomato soup with a Greek salad combo right now. Maybe I can convince Steve to drive to Oklahoma City?

The next morning Steve woke up early to go weigh in. I slept in, sort of, and ate breakfast with him. The meet started at nine so we headed down at eight and I found a chair in the front row to claim for my photographer duties.

I waited in my chair, checking my cameras, chatting a little about cameras with the guy next to me, and waited as they got started. Steve warmed up in the next room and I tried to stay comfortable in the conference room chairs.

The meet finally started after a recording of the National Anthem. I know I might move a little bit more slowly right now, but I’ve never seen a room of people stand up so quickly to turn to the flag.

We started with the women’s groups, moving through the squats and then onto the men. Steve had his best round of the day with Squats. He went 3 for 3 and grinded out some pretty heavy weights.

The rest of the day Steve did well, but not as well as he would have hoped. I continued to take pictures, tried to stay positive for him despite becoming grumpier by the hour.

powerliftingI actually don’t mind these meets. They’re entertaining to see people pushing their bodies this hard. Sometimes it makes me want to get to the gym myself, not exactly to compete with them, but to try to beat my own record.

The downside to these meets though is their length. It’s a long day on me and all I’m doing is sitting. Admittedly, I’m pretty consistently uncomfortable these days, so sitting in a chair for 10 hours wasn’t the greatest thing in the world. I kept standing up and inconspicuously stretching my back. And I’m just sitting around!

I can’t imagine what it’s like to actually need your body to be warmed up and ready to perform at basically any given moment throughout that long of a period. These people are definitely in better shape than me, especially right now.

After the meet, to console ourselves from the day we got In-n-Out. Not that we really need an excuse to visit In-n-Out. Basically every time we’re even remotely close to one we have to stop. While I’m still trying to eat healthy for the last few weeks of this pregnancy, I am definitely taking advantage of treats like this, because, I am promising myself, I will be much more strict once the baby is here.

The next morning we got breakfast at Panera (I told you I’m not ashamed to say how often we ate there). We drove to Waco with the expectation of going to Magnolia Market but, like most things, we forgot to check to see if it was open. It’s not on Sundays… So we went on toward Fort Worth.

We stopped at a roadside bakery called the Czech Stop. It’s a little place in a gas station that, apparently is a pretty popular place. We really only stopped because, as some of you might know, I lived in the Czech Republic for a while and I’ll take any excuse to stop for anything remotely Czech. The little shop was completely crowded, the line almost out the door. The pastries, breads and other goodies smelled amazing.

Fort Worth StockyardsWe drove the next hour or so to Fort Worth and decided to stop at the Stockyards. We had heard of them before but never really had time to stop. This Sunday though, Dash was at the kennel and couldn’t get picked up until Monday morning, and we didn’t have anything we needed to do at home.

At the Stockyards we walked through the stables and looked at horses and longhorns. I had never seen a longhorn up close and while they weren’t aggressive, and we obviously didn’t intend on really interacting with them, we were trying to get cool pictures of them. Their horns are so… long, as you’d expect, and just turning their heads nearly gored us.

longhornWe ate at Riscky’s on a recommendation from one of Steve’s friends and it was surprisingly good. Not that I doubted it would be good, but because we were in such a touristy area, at a really popular place so you never really know what you are going to get. We thought about trying some of their favorite calf fries, but… yeah, we didn’t really think about it. We just laughed at the thought of them.

We walked around the stockyards in a strangely chilly afternoon and looked in shops full of candy- even some with worms and ants inside, beef jerky, flavored olive oils and vinegars, vinyl, souvenirs of Texas-shaped objects and cowboy memorabilia.

We made a promise to come back with Baby, hopefully when he or she would be able to take a ride on a pony, and made our way back home.

This weekend might not exactly have been the highlight of our year, but it was most likely the last weekend away we have before Baby arrives. I ate way too much, slept in a bed without a dog or cats nearly smothering me, and generally relaxed. It was nice to see more of the state, even if mostly through the car window. It definitely got me thinking about what more of the state I want to see during my time here. I’m putting together a Texas Bucket List, so be on the look out for that!


Have you ever been to this part of Texas? What should we do next time, preferably family friendly?


About the Author:

Hey, I’m Mackenzie, a writer, traveler, and photographer living in North Texas. Been to 65 countries solo, now taking the baby along. I blog about family travel while writing novels and binge-watching British TV.

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