Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Austin, Nice to Meet You: holiday weekend edition

We had our first overnight guests since moving to Austin.  My sister and brother-in-law flew in for the Veteran's Day long weekend.  Before they arrived I was concerned we might put too much pressure on our time together, try to fit too many activities into each day and wind up feeling like we hadn't actually spent any time together.  

Turns out I needn't have worried.  We had the perfect blend of touring this great city and hanging out together at home. 

Here's how the weekend itinerary looked:

Day 1 (Thursday night): Drive through downtown Austin with a brief stop at Home Slice on South Congress

Day 2 (Friday):  Lunch at Chuy's

juke box junkies

I've mentioned this before, I know.  But it's worth talking about again.  Simply delicious Tex-Mex in a funky atmosphere with delicious food (especially the infamous creamy jalapeno!)  Rich and Alicia were duly impressed.

walking over the Congress Avenue bridge

After lunch, we found a spot to park downtown and walked the Congress Avenue bridge and river walk.  We promised Alicia that the bats had flown south and it was safe to walk on, around, near and underneath the bridge.  True to our word, we spotted nothing incriminating.  Later that evening, though, we did notice people lining the bridge looking for all the world like they were waiting on the bats so, perhaps we'd miscalculated.  Alicia did not think this was very funny at all.

walking underneath the Congress Avenue bridge along the river walk

After the walk we were ready for dessert.  We were hoping the food trailer that sells choose-your-own ice cream sandwiches.  It was closed but we didn't do too badly with homemade black and white cupcakes, shortbread cookies and Italian ice.  Believe it or not, we've lived surrounded by every kind of food trailer you can imagine and hadn't yet tried anything.  We were not disappointed one bit. 

We spent enough time home to watch Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 2 (just released!) and then we got on our boots and our plaid and headed out a true Austin legend, the Broken Spoke. We were told it was the best damn chicken fried steak and the best honky tonk music in Texas, but we really went for the dancing.  The Texas 2-step lessons is what I'd promised the family and we decked out for the full experience. 

Unfortunately I didn't do my homework very well and when we added up the cost of the meal plus the two-step lessons plus the cover charge we were not budgetarily prepared.  So, we did the next best thing...

...dance lessons by YouTube.  We rolled up the rug, moved out the dining room table and kicked up our heels.  Actually, the basic step for the two-step is pretty simple so our heels didn't move too far from the ground.  Later we went crazy and learned the Boot-scootin' boogie.  So next time we make it to the Broken Spoke, we'll be good and ready.

Day 3 (Saturday): Groceries at Sunflower Market

Andrew works in the meat department of a lovely little produce, meat and organic market.  He made some sausage for us to grill for lunch.  We were lucky enough to show up on the day that the store was serving a full Thanksgiving meal (including champagne and wine) for free!  This ended up doubling as lunch for the day.

 Shopping on South Congress

This is definitely one of our favorite spots in Austin.  We love each and every funky store, but I could probably move in to Uncommon Objects for a few months and be perfectly happy.  Andrew and Kendra got some vintage clothes at New Bohemia (Drew was torn between a Mickey Mouse sweatshirt and a Members Only jacket...for real.)  While we were checking out the food trailers across the street, my sister captured this beautiful "Austin funk meets downhome Texas" with this strolling cowboy and his horse (mule?).

Mueller Lake Park, Movie and Music in the Park

What a wonderful find, this park and this event.  The McCallum Fine Arts Academy Orchestra fundraiser included an hour of music -- well-loved movie theme songs -- synced to clips on the screen.  But only after the gorgeous sunset enthralled us first.  

We brought wine, apples and caramel and the world's best kettle corn from Sunflower Market.  Thankfully we also brought our sweatshirts and blankets to wrap up for the showing of Back to the Future.  If you ever get the chance to watch a movie in this kind of setting, do it.  It's so fun to be surrounded by people still completely wrapped up in the story.

Day 3 (Sunday):  Salt Lick Bar-B-Que

a photo opp at an old Texaco station in Driftwood, TX

After a morning surrounded by church family at Christ Church, we enjoyed a lovely afternoon drive through the fringes of the Texas Hill Country, we joined a few friends for dinner at the Salt Lick.  A lot of people will tell you the meat cooked over the live coals and glazed with mouthwatering bar-b-que sauce is the best in Austin, maybe Texas.  I will admit it's very good, maybe even the best I've ever had.  

Also, the grounds around the main building are what I've come to observe as quintessential Austin, seating under the stars and lights strewn through wiry trees and a guitarist or two playing live music in the corner somewhere.  It's pretty lovely, let me tell you.

We ended our final evening roasting s'mores on a good friends' back patio, talking international politics and 80's rock anthems.  In other words, it was the perfect finale to a perfect weekend.

We are grateful.
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