Austin part two

With the exception of visiting people, Austin was underwhelming for me. I can definitely see how it is a great, quirky, cultural, metropolitan area to live in but I wasn’t there for a festival or a show.  It was a normal weekend and
It’s a city.


Of course, I loved seeing my friends.

Angela & Andrew

Angela & Andrew

Andrew & Angela have invited me to visit Austin since they moved out here a decade ago.  I made it in just under the wire because, odds are the family is heading back to Phoenix for work.  

Jodi, Arden & Ezra 

Jodi, Arden & Ezra 

I got to see Ezra & Jodi last summer at the reunion.  These are two people who are very fun from some of the best times in my life.  Ezra’s the person who actually taught me how to use a camera when I was 13 years old.  Photography’s been a hobby ever since. I spent a different summer hanging around the Clown Shop with Jodi.  That they are both in Austin was a great coincidence.

Seeing Jamie Thomas was the real surprise. Jamie & I spent a year of elementary school (or something like that) hanging out.  I have the most vivid memories of her family’s giant golden retriever sitting on my lap, when I’d walk into the house. The dog was bigger than me but if felt like it needed to me on my lap.  She & I hadn’t spoken in decades but when I said I was looking for Texas travel advice, she’s lived here for years with her family. They take road trips. What did I want to know? I don’t think she was planning on coming to breakfast (because it’s been decades) but when I sent the group text, she already had Ezra’s phone number programed into her phone (and vice versa), so she did bring her kids & join us.  

That Jamie & Ezra’s kids already know each other & play together is a fantastic coincidence.  Wonderful people from different points of my early life know each other now. How cool is that?  

But besides hanging out with the people, I saw the flagship Whole Foods.  That’s about it for Austin.

And now for the rest of Texas.


Looking ahead: Arkansas & Southern Missouri

Since I didn’t have 300 words to say about Austin, the other thing I’m thinking about is the next leg of the journey.  How am I going to get to Detroit from Texas?
The places to go on that list are pretty random:

  • My friend in Dale, IN
  • The Creation Museum
  • Branson, MO
  • Chicago - which I’m taking out of this trip & turning into it’s own separate trip.

After my experience in Truth or Consequences, when I saw that there’s a Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas, that got added to the list.  It fit really nicely on the map.  After my experience in Utah, seeing that Hot Springs & Ozarks are in the same area, I started to get more excited about (of all things) driving through Arkansas.  Same sentence comes to mind:  when am I genuinely going to be driving through Arkansas again?  Make the most of it.

I think a week is going to be a good trip from Texas to Missouri, maybe a little less.  Here’s the planned (ish) route -

  • Houston to Tiger Creek Rescue & drive towards Shreveport.  Stop in Shreveport for the Rose Garden.  
  • Shreveport to Hot Springs National Park
  • Little Rock 
  • Mountain View & see/learn more about the Ozarks & Ozark culture.
  • Walton Family Art Museum in Bentonville
  • Bentonville to Diamond, MO.
  • Diamond to Branson. 

I don’t know where I’m going to sleep along the way or how much time I’ll spend at any roadside attraction or stop.  

The cheese guy I talked to at Whole Foods, happened to be from the Mountain View area.  When I said I was planning on driving up, he’s the one who mentioned the Ozarks & how pretty the area was.  

From there it looks like Branson to St. Louis. St. Louis to Dale.  Dale to Louisville & then Petersberg.  After that it’s whatever route through Ohio & I will be home.  I’ll figure out Ohio when that part is a little closer. 

Austin, part 1

Yesterday was the first day I missed writing in a while.
I didn’t miss it.
This writing thing really makes me realize, eh whatever…

But I do want to remember this trip. I did make a commitment and that’s enough of a reason to stick with it.

So far, Austin isn’t my favorite.  I didn’t have any kind of things to do, places to see list in Austin.  I came to town to see my friends. I’ve had an open invitation to visit for a decade, regularly hear how cool the city is and it was definitely on the way between AZ & MI, so why not.

I saw the flagship Whole Foods (because I needed to order something from Amazon & they have the lockers) & shopped for cheese - which was fun.  After that, I listened to Siri looking for South Congress & ended up on Sixth Street by all the bars. In the middle of the day. By myself. I’m not exactly the solo day drinking type.  Every once in a while, if I randomly end up at a starship brewery, yes I’ll have a pint but it’s not my go to.

So, I went to the movies & saw Avengers: Infinity War.  You won't find any spoilers here. 



I didn’t know there was a little Bavaria in Texas.  Hill Country / Wine Country, I knew that was a thing in Texas.  As someone who likes food & drink, I’ll drive through scenic wine country & try stuff.  Not a problem.

Because I was driving, I couldn’t really do a wine tasting day.  I planned to stop at three wineries, and then see what else was around.  The owners recommended Becker Vineyards, which seems to be the largest vineyard in the area.  Their grounds were beautiful & they also farmed lavender so I bought a bar of soap.  

The gentleman serving allowed me to just taste one white & one red rather than a full tasting, understanding solo travel.  He also told me I was driving in the wrong direction & to go see downtown Fredricksburg first then drive down Highway 290 to see vineyards on the way to Austin, which was helpful.  I listened & found a parking place right next to Marketplatz on Fredricksburg’s Main Street.  It’s a cute tourist destination. I took photos of merchandising in lots of shops to save ideas.  There are lots of boutiques on this Main Street. It felt upscale and took quite a while for me to find a place that sold tourist magnets.  

The guy behind the counter asked if I liked armadillos. Sure. 

The guy behind the counter asked if I liked armadillos. Sure. 

The other wineries I stopped in were Mendelsohn’s winery because I had to stop at the Israeli winery in Texas.  It’s irresistible. I did a full tasting at Mendelsohn’s, being the only person in the place at that moment. The wineries in Texas have a lot of varietals.  You get a sheet & choose your tastings from several options. The last time I did a wine tasting thing, it must have been someplace more boutique-y, because I don’t remember having so many choices at any one stop.  The last winery I stopped in was Grape Creek. I didn’t do a tasting there either because I won’t drink & drive but the grounds were beautiful.

Stonewall, TX is on the way to Austin, so I stopped at the LBJ Historical Site & did a little learning.  Because I’ve taken a couple of Modern US History classes, I knew some things from President Johnson’s accomplishments including signing the Civil Rights act & Medicare/Medicaid.  Johnson & Nixon are the presidents who put a lot of the systems that today’s government wants to devalue into place.  It’s pretty interesting. Because of his own background in Texas, he was the first president to put federal dollars in to public education.  He was president when we landed on the moon. When we talk & learn about the 1960s, it’s often in reference to Kennedy or Martin Luther King but the man who did a lot of the heavy lifting, policy wise in the 1960s, was Lyndon Johnson.  Considering his life, I think the preservation of his lands in Texas is a fitting tribute.


My surprise find of the day was Dripping Springs Distillery.  I’ve done wine tastings in CA, NM, WA & now Texas.  There was a sign on the road for not a winery but a distillery.  That was something I hadn’t visited before, so I turned in. It was the nicest conversation I had all day.  They are a small batch producer working with quality ingredients in copper stills. I sipped instead of gulped (#driving) but here is where I ended buying booze.  They had a Texas Orange vodka that I could put an ice cube in & just sip on a hot day. It was delicious. That is a bottle I’m going to look forward to opening when I get home.