Monday, April 15, 2013

Austin! Georgetown! Jacksonville! Cedar Park!

I just got back from my third trip to Austin this year. I’ve made one trip a month so far, and next month’s trip to Paris will make it five for five. Or cinq sur cinq. Airfare feels cheap compared to what I’m paying for rental cars. Sure, it was a fun-to-drive little red Kia Forte with a bluetooth phone connection and satellite radio, but it cost me twice what my airfare did. Of course, I don’t get bluetooth on the airplane, so maybe the higher price makes sense after all.

My new Austin destination is Bangers on Rainey street, with gourmet sausages and 100+ taps to choose from. I made it my first stop after picking up the rental car. A buddy met me there and I had a nice wheat beer with my venison sausage sandwich. Or maybe I had a nice venison sausage sandwich with my wheat beer. Maybe I did both.

It’s bluebonnet season in Texas, which is just too cool. Best flowers ever! (Although the blue fireworks flowers in California are a close second.) Definitely a true Texas experience; there are photos of me as a two year-old sitting in a field of these beauties. (Blue is my color, after all.)

The downside to the four-hour drive to the Chance Ranch in Jacksonville is that I don’t have the emotional constitution for being alone that long. Pitifulness warning: I got sad on the drive thinking about all the times Marianne and I made the trip (nearly a dozen times over 10 years). I hope I’m now inoculated against it for the next trip, but I’m sure there are more memory triggers around the corner waiting to pounce on me with gloominess. Yay.

My parents noticed I’ve been more into wine lately, so they scouted out the East Texas wineries. One of them had a nice little self-guided walk through the vineyard after the wine tasting. I liked their port (of course). The other one was...well...interesting. “Interesting” as in “I can’t stand your sense of decor, but it’s a free country and you certainly didn’t do it half-way.” They specialize in sweet wines and...junk. Er, formerly useful tools that are now strewn around in a manner intended to be decorative. It was East Texas shabby chic - minus the chic. 

Back in Austin I worked out of the local Cisco office (saving vacation days). I enjoyed going out for lunch with co-workers and friends. I saw two action movies at Alamo Drafthouse, where the beer makes bad movies worth it. (Delicious Pecan Porter). I had several relaxing dinners with the Cannons, along with an ice cream celebration for Devin’s grades. Devin and I even went to Outback Steakhouse so he could get his sirloin fix. (I prefer filet mignon) We followed that up with a visit to Main Event for air hockey, rock-wall climbing, glow-in-the-dark putt-putt golf and a virtual roller-coaster that brought me closer to puking than a real one ever has.

Now a highlight of some things I read or heard this week that might be educational or entertaining in some way. No promises. Well, I found them educational and entertaining.

On Saturday Devin and I went to the Cedar Park Cave Day, where we found a really cool cave to climb down into - right behind a subdivision of houses. That evening we sent his parents off on a date. We ate at Kerbey Lane and then brought back Ben and Jerry’s ice cream to enjoy with our movie, Battle Los Angeles, which was quite good. Lesson: “Go left or go right. It doesn’t matter which, but make a decision.” (And - if aliens can land on earth, they probably brought aircraft, not just ground troops.)

On Sunday I went to Gateway Church. As part of their Refrigerator Rights series, they had an actual refrigerator on stage, of course. They talked about letting a few people into your life who can get to know the things about you that you usually hide because they stink. (The things, not the people.)  The pastor pulled a “prop” tupperware dish from the on-stage fridge. When he sniffed it - theatrically - he found that it contained some prop food that was actually stinky enough to get his attention. Good prank by his staff.

In the failure-to-communicate department, Derry proposed a hike along Bull Creek as our penultimate Austin activity. I heard hike as in “on a trail”. He meant hike as in “bushwhack our way along the bank of the creek, crossing it randomly, and scrambling up and down rocks and slopes as needed regardless of the terrain” He had hiking boots and cargo shorts. I had running shoes and old jeans. I came away with a few bruises, but avoided landing in the creek or contracting poison ivy. We had some good conversation, saw a few fish, and returned sweaty, Gatorade in hand.

And after a day of planes, trains, and automobiles, I’m back in Mountain View doing laundry and scoping out a restaurant for dinner. I’m thinking Ramen.

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