Monday, June 11, 2012

Deep in the heart of Texas

The stars at night - are big and bright Deep in the heart of Texas....

Last month Sue and I had a wonderful vacation down in Austin, Texas, visiting our daughter Taylor, and son-in-law Jeremy. We hadn't seen them since shortly after their wedding last August. Miss them bad! But we had a wonderful time. They were fantastic hosts and we love them to pieces. They love it down there, and they tried hard to sell us on moving down. While very tempting, we're not in a place to do that just yet. Maybe someday! You never know...

Anyway, this is an account of our trip down there. Kind of a long post, but I thought it would give some good info for someone planning on going.

We had left NH during a rainstorm, something it had been doing for the past month. And arrived in Austin in the rain. 1/2 hr later, the sun came out and stayed that way for the 8 days we were there. (it was raining when we got back to NH, by the way. I'm starting to grow gills).  We started our vacation by going to Frank for some gourmet hotdogs and pub food. What? don't you mean Frank's? Nope. Just plain singular FRANK.  Really good food, and excellent Margarita's and Bloody Mary's, and beer. Hereafter referred to as The USUAL., which strangely enough was a common beverage selection for us down there.  After that, we looked at some curios and oddities stores (can't remember which). And marveled at all of the food trucks they have in Austin. If you ever want to know what happens to Airstream campers...They go to Austin and are reborn as restaurants!
After that, we took a trip to the Congress St. Bat Bridge. Thousands of bats come out and night and everyone gathers to watch. Really cool.
Congress St. Bat Bridge
Followed by the USUAL at the Upper Deck. Good sports bar.  Most every place you stop at in Austin is open air eating, which is GREAT!.

Day 2, Wednesday, started out with brunch outdoors at Austin Java with bloody mary's and mimosas... Couldn't find a good website for them, but they're on facebook. Afterwards, we took a short hike up to Mount Bonnell. Climbed on the cliffs, and looked at the mansions on Lake Austin. Then we went to graffiti park and climbed around there and looked at the street art.

Graffiti Park
Following that, we walked around the capital building in Austin. Beautiful building. Would have gone in, but it looked like there was a big tour of elementary school kids waiting in line, so we opted out.
After a little break, the Taylor and Jeremy took us to the Salt Lick in Driftwood for dinner. OMG. Ribs, and brisket, and sausage, and steaks, oh my. A great BYOB restaurant. We had a great time, and ate to our hearts content.
Salt Lick BBQ
Lastly, we went to the White Horse Bar to get a taste of honky tonk and blue grass music and Lone Star Beer. Followed that up with a long nights sleep.

Day 3, Thursday, we took the grand-dogs down to the Green Belt. It's a place on the river, where you can bring your chairs, and swim and relax. (when there is water). It was dried up a month before we got there, and with the rains, filled up for our visit. It's dried up again, I hear.
Piper at the Green Belt
After a wonderfully relaxing day at the crick, we went out and over indulged that The Home Slice. Holy cow, their pizza was as big as Texas, and soooo good. We got so full, we could barely drink the rest of the night. Barely. We had a late night of music and drinking planned on 6th st., and being full was not a great way to start. We went to a bar to have a drink and check out some music before we were supposed to see some friends of the kids play at another bar. This one had just opened and the bar band was just tuning up, so the bartender gave a free round. And we felt obligated to have another round..Ug. Too full to drink...But we managed.
There must be 100 bars on 6th st. and every one has bands playing. Crazy. We went to the Mohawk to see Whiskey Shivers and Shakey Graves play. The Mohawk is a really neat multi-tiered venue. Anyway, W-S plays bluegrass, and I really enjoyed them. Never appreciated that kind of music before but do now! And Shakey Graves is an awesome singer/guitarist. Taylor and Jeremy met him last year and hired him to play at their wedding. I've become a big fan of his. Great guy, and a really good friend of the kids.  Check him out on You Tube! : Shakey Graves

Shakey Graves
It was a great day..and we didn't make it home till 1am or so...good thing we're still young! :-)

Day 4, Friday, After sleeping in, we went to Whole Foods for lunch. Holy cow! What a store! This is the headquarters, and it's more like an experience, than a grocery store. (We actually got lunch here twice this week. Yes, that good!)
Then we spent a few hours walking around the Zilker Botanical Gardens. A beautiful park. Very relaxing.

At night, we had dinner outdoors at Shady Grove restaurant. It was a hot night and we had THE USUAL...Lots of The USUAL. A really cool restaurant.

Day 5, Saturday, We started out the day at with a delicious brunch at Red's Porch, and ate on the upper outside deck. Great company,  very relaxing. Tried a new food. Frito Pie (Homestyle blend of chili, cheese & (of course) fritos). Yumm!!!! Finally, a food invented with me in mind. Afterwards we went to Callahan's General Store where we tried on cowboy hats, and looked at chickens and goats and pigs for sale. Very neat store!

Your's truly, and daughter Taylor
At night we went to the Spider House in Austin which is a big ol house where tons of bands play every night. A very cool place with lots to look at. We went there to see Shakey Graves again. He put on a great show and I got some good shots. (practicing my concert shots). Another night of music and beer followed by a late night breakfast at Kerbey Lane.

Day 6, Sunday, We drove about an hour to San Antonio to see The Alamo. It was cool to finally see it, but I must admit it was little disappointing. Not sure what I was expecting, but it was interesting to read a little of the history of it. I do want to read more and will try and find a good book about it's history. Afterwards, we went out on the River Walk, which is a beautiful (and busy) place. Had some mexican food for lunch, drank THE USUAL, and actually paid to have a mariachi band serenade us. Hey, why not! After lunch we went to Louis Tussaud's Wax Museum. I think Louis must be Madame Tussaud's less talented grandson. The quality of the wax sculptures was laughable. We had been to Madame's in NY, and loved that one. Oh well, live and learn. Louis is owned by Ripley's and is not associated with Madame's. We still had a good time (Especially when Taylor climbed into a horror scene and jumped out when I came by. HOLY CRAP!) Scared the heck out of me, and then I roared with laughter. Later, Jeremy hid in a haunted closet and scared me also. They're trying to kill me I tell ya!

Day 7 Monday, Sue and I used this day to relax since the kids had to work. At night though, we headed to Austin and had dinner and drinks at Opal Devines. Good food, service wasn't great, but the poor waiter was serving upstairs and wasn't told he had a table outside. Oh well, we got a free round for our troubles.

Day 8. Tuesday, Sad day. Had to leave our kids behind and get back to NH. But we are comforted in the fact that Taylor and Jeremy have a wonderful life in Austin. We're so proud of them, and thank them for the wonderful times we had there. They are great people. We'll be back...

The stars at night - are big and bright
Deep in the heart of Texas.
The prairie sky - is wide and high
Deep in the heart of Texas.
The Sage in bloom - is like perfume
Deep in the heart of Texas.
Reminds me of - the one I love
Deep in the heart of Texas.
The cowboys cry - ki-yip-pie-yi
Deep in the heart of Texas.
The rabbits rush - around the brush
Deep in the heart of Texas.
The coyotes wail - along the trail
Deep in the heart of Texas.
The doggies bawl - and bawl and bawl
Deep in the heart of Texas.
(June Hershey/Don Swander)

To see more scenes from Austin, check out this link to my website: More pics on my website

Finally! Finished my "What I did on vacation" post....

Coming soon... 1001 ways to pass the day in the rain in NH. Ug...


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