They Call it Texas (Part Two)


We arrived in Austin on a hot, hot afternoon and checked into our hotel. Being that it was the starting weekend for college football and the other UT was playing in town for their home opener it was a crowded place.

That night we found the famous Threadgill’s restaurant and music venue was within walking distance and we decided to go there to eat. Their motto is “home cooking” with such favorites as chicken fried chicken, steak and pork chops as well as all the sides. A teachable moment occurred at dinner when Griffin asked “do you get free refills of beer just like with cokes?” Everyone enjoyed the meal and afterwards we decided to walk across the South Congress bridge to downtown for some adventure. Under the bridge lives what is said to be the largest colony of urban bats in the U. S., which fly out at dusk. It was too late to see them but we did smell them-if you know what I mean. We walked around downtown for a few blocks and then headed back to the hotel.

The big day had finally arrived, the one Griffin had been waiting months for, Tennessee’s home opener. We had the fortune of getting connected with a Tennessee Alum, Andy Potter, who runs Austin Food Tours. If you are ever in town give him a call and explore Austin food from a local. Anyway, we found out that a Tennessee alumni group was watching the game at a restaurant, the Cedar Door, not far from our hotel. So we were all happy about that arrangement.

But before all that, first thing Saturday morning Angie headed out to the City Garage Sale, something she had heard about in a consignment shop in San Antonio. It was a few blocks from the hotel and she ended up finding some “treasures”.  She also brought back some sushi from a well known food truck for lunch, Sushi-a-Go-Go. We then decided to head out to the area known as SoCo, meaning South Congress. It is filled with shops, restaurants, bars, music venues, food trucks and some sidewalk arts and crafts sales. It was smoking hot but we managed to hang out for a couple of hours, ate some Amy’s ice cream, listened to a street musician, bought some trinkets and generally browsed a number of shops. We then headed back to get ready for the game.

We dropped Angie off to go do some window shopping as the boys and I headed to watch the game. We arrived, found a table, met the other fans and waited for the game only to discover a weather delay. Then an hour and half later as Angie arrived the game started and we got to watch the opening game with other UT alumni and fans. We ate and then said our goodbyes as the third quarter ended. We listened to the end of the game at the hotel on the computer. With the Vols winning  and our other adventures Saturday was a good day.

Angie started the day at a local park and trail. She was able to “move and groove” for a few miles on a shaded trail that traced the river’s edge.

On Sunday, we had planned on going to Barton Springs, which is a natural spring located close to downtown within Zilker Park, a large city park. As we arrived and parked to walk to the springs, we felt like we were in a sand storm because of the hot, dry wind whipping up the dust from the drought that Texas is enduring. The springs are one of the places that people love to hang out with friends and family. Since they are natural springs the water temperature is around 68 degrees year-round so no easing in here, you just gotta suck it up and jump in and boy is it brisk on your initial entry. It is kind of weird because there is algae, water plants and fish all around you, it is like in a natural swimming pool.

Afterwards, we headed to get a small bite to eat and found a food truck that had been recommended-Torchy’s Tacos. They had some of the best food we had in Austin and we wished we had eaten more – from the queso to the different types of tacos. That evening we had heard about a free concert on the lawn a short walk from our hotel. The band Grupo Fantasma, a well known Austin Latin Funk group, rocked the house as the boys played an impromptu game of football with some local kids. After the concert we went to a local burger bar called Hopdoddy for a burger, some fries and a milkshake, it was very good and then we headed home.

On Monday, we shopped at the flagship Whole Foods store, Waterloo Records and the surrounding area before heading to Lafayette. We discovered some important words of wisdom on a store.  So, breathe and relax – your health depends on it!

As we headed south of Austin toward Houston,  some of the Texas wildfires were in our view as huge plumes of smoke filled the skies. In fact, near Houston the smoke almost blotted out the sun. Today, wildfires still rage in Texas and many homes have been lost so let us remember those in harm’s way. They need our prayers and RAIN DANCES!

All in all Austin was a very good adventure and we would like to return at some point for more exploring but the 100 degree temps and hot winds really put a damper on the outside exploration.