So, before I begin with yesterday's events, I have to note what I really like about Austin - it is so proud of its individuality. Signs are posted everywhere to eat and shop local, and the residents are very proud to have so many unique things in Austin. The title of my post is actually a t-shirt I saw yesterday, and it reflects the mindset of the people here - they definitely do not want to be taken over by large chains of any kind - which I think is just great (although, everyone does seem to love the enormous Whole Foods downtown - Michelle and I stopped by last night and it was pretty crowded, and apparently a great singles-scene after work).
Yesterday I had an amazing but exhausting day with my cousin. We started with a nature walk down to see Lake Austin – which is just the Colorado River damned up to create a lake – they do this throughout Austin apparently. It was nice, though, and there were already boats and water-skiers out cooling off. Because, you know, it only hit a high of 108 degrees yesterday, ouch!
Michelle told me I needed to be rightfully introduced to Austin with lunch at Rudy’s – I was a bit skeptical, as it is basically inside a gas station on the side of the road (wow, thanks for the tour Michelle, taking me to a gas station…), but the BBQ was really good, and the guys working there were very hospitable to me as a first-timer. Not only did I get the Rudy’s cheer for a welcome, they gave me sample pieces of everything on the menu. Yum!
We spent much of the day driving around hitting all of Michelle’s to-do list which was great – we climbed Mt. Bonnell's 99 stairs to see a breathtaking panorama view of Austin, we went to Barton Springs and watched a zillion kids swimming/diving, we toured UT, stopped at Hula Hut and The Oasis which are popular restaurants/bars to take in the views and cool off. It was funny because Michelle kept telling me how crowded all of these places usually are, and besides Barton Springs, no one was at any of them – the weather being such a deterrent. It finally dropped below 100 around 10 or so…That, sprinkled in with home tours of the local neighborhoods, with Michelle and I oohing and ahhing at the different houses we liked, was a blast. Today’s my last day here, and I think we’re going to hit up an IMAX film on Texas (Michelle says she’s seen it at least a dozen times and that it’s a must-see), maybe go for a dip in the springs, and then we talked about moseying our way down to San Antonio to do The Riverwalk later tonight.
Arrived in Austin last night to a gorgeous house where my second cousin Michelle lives – the house is staged to sell, and has to be ready to “show” at any time, so basically, there can be no personal trail. This is a great lesson for me to put my mess away as soon as I make it!
My home base until Thursday:
Michelle was awesome to change her travel plans to be here most of my time in Austin (in addition to letting me stay with her), and she arrives back from Father’s Day travel tonight, so today I was on my own to check out the city. Design*sponge guide in hand, I went downtown to check out the capitol, as well as walk the streets (some really cute stores are popping up on Colorado and W. 2nd St. that I perused in the morning, my favorites definitely being Mercury Design Studio (mix of vintage and modern home furniture/accessories) and Eliza Page (jewelry that was way beyond my budget, but fun to look at).
Next I drove over to South Congress – a groovy stretch of several blocks that hosts tons of vintage furniture and clothing stores, and what I’ve realized is big here: mobile restaurants. There were tons of trailers parked and cooking – from ice cream and cupcakes to BBQ and tacos – I guess you get to keep overhead costs down if you don’t have rent to pay? Very cool vibe, and I would have probably eaten at one if it weren’t A MILLION DEGREES here. So instead, I headed over to Guerro’s, which Michelle’s roommate Christie had recommended and had fish tacos – they had sweet corn in them and were super good. My only “complaint” was that the wait-staff didn’t seem to know what to do with me – I guess a lone diner is unheard of there. Nevertheless, it was the perfect resuscitation after being outside for so long walking up and down S. Congress.
I was feeling so good, in fact, that I headed over to Uncommon Objects, which is known as an Austin Institution (i.e. Must go!). I wandered through row after row of vintage furniture, clothing and accessories before falling in love with a vintage pair of rattan pendants. The owner saw me looking at them and we ended talking about design and he mentioned he had decorated a restaurant in Orange County – turns out it was down the street from my parents’ house (has since gone out of business, but I had eaten there before) – small world. And… I bought the pendants. I have no idea what I’m going to do with them (Eddie, I might convince you we should hang them on your back porch), but they were so rad and super cheap I couldn’t pass them up (and are now occupying the remaining space in my Jetta’s trunk).
That about summed up my day – the heat started getting to me, so I drove back to Michelle’s a bit ago to hibernate in her air-conditioned house. And, I know I probably sound a little whiney, but seriously, I went to one store today that had a sign out front that said “Closed due to AC being broken” – so you know if the locals think it’s hot, it can’t just be me!
Michelle lands in a few hours, and I’m really looking forward to seeing her – I can’t remember the last time I did. And, I’m excited to start her list of “must-see” things in Austin – so more to come over the next few days.
Yesterday was my second (and last) full day in Santa Fe, and before I forget all the little details, I wanted to get something up here.
Conquering Canyon Road was my goal for the day – it’s sort of a hike from the main Plaza, but about a mile in length, it hosts about 120 galleries/stores. Santa Fe is the third largest city in the country for art (Los Angeles, and recently San Francisco top it), so I definitely wanted to check it out. What I learned: just because there is a lot of art, does not mean that it is good art. Maybe it is just because I have such sophisticated taste (haha), but I found a lot of it really ugly. Highlights of the ugly, include stuff like these two trapeze guys:
Lastly, I have to mention dinner last night. AMAZING! Definitely one of the best meals I’ve had in as long as I can remember. The concierge at The Inn at Anasazi (where I stayed) recommended heading over to the O’Keefe Café (next to the Georgia O’Keefe museum, which I actually went to on my first day and greatly enjoyed). Dinner started with a complimentary glass of champagne and plate of brie, pancetta, and cornichon with pesto (sweet!). I ordered the crispy shrimp and jicama salad to start, which came with mandarin oranges and a citrus vinaigrette that was delicious. For my entrée, I had diver scallops over wild mushroom and truffle risotto – BEST THING EVER. The waiter actually told me I ordered the best thing on the menu, and it definitely did not disappoint. Neither did the chef coming out at the end of the meal to check in and see how it was – such a nice gesture. I would be a regular for sure if I lived in Santa Fe (well, and if I were rich, let’s be honest…). It was the perfect ending to a great stay in Santa Fe.