Friday, August 13, 2010

Exploring Austin

Good-bye Houston, and your terrible highway system, hello Austin and... your... terrible highway system. Lets hope this is a Texas thing and that as soon as I'm out of the state things will return to normal. I have my fingers crossed for you NEW Mexico.

Three hours at the much loved speed limit of seventy miles an hour and we were there. We grabbed a motel for thirty bucks a night off the I-35 and then extended it for two. Sure, tomorrow we'd be in San Antonio, but I'd rather drive eighty minutes back here, knowing I had a place to sleep, than try to find one there. Of all the things that have ever made me uneasy about travel it's not having a place to sleep for the night. Also, as the cheapest place I could find down there was fifty dollars a night, this works to save money even with the extra gas cost.

Our first stop? Hot Topic – I know, I know. But it wasn't for me, honest and true. A friend of mine saw my GIR shirt and lamented about how we have a lack of said merchandise in Canada and wanted me to pick one up for her – so that's what I set off to do, and that's what I accomplished. While there, it being (spoiler) Katherine's birthday, I tried to find something she'd like – but shirt after shirt she struck down. And then a tote bag was put back for not having a secure top. Another bag was over looked. This will be important later. With that, we left the store and headed down into Austin.

Pulling up at the visitor centre I made my way to the information desk and asked the ladies working there what I should see. They stared blankly. I asked what I should not miss in the city. More blank stares. Maybe there were some streets I should walk? Nothing – Katherine was giving me a, they will never understand what you're asking – lets escape, our parking time is being wasted, look. But I pressed on. I thought for sure, working in a visitor centre they'd be used to this question. They were not.

It should be the first thing you're asked before being allowed to step behind the booth. It should be required for people who have lived in a city. Here – ask me, “what should I do in Toronto?” Oh, I'm glad you asked:

Head on down to Bathurst and College – it's a great place to eat, and see the streets. Walk up to Bloor an wander through the wacky world of Honest Ed's. You can also take a hand in hand stroll along the water front, and check out the festivals there. Or if hippy chic is more your thing, wander the graffiti covered streets of Kensington Market while shopping for vintage clothing.

You see how easy that was? I've not even see that place for a year (except on the news when it was on fire) and I can tell people where to go. And that's just a fraction – if pressed for more ideas I could go on for hours.

But no, what I learned – there's the capitol building a ten minute walk away – go there. Fine. Very well. That's what we'll do.

Up the streets we walked, the domed building coming into view. Because everything is bigger in Texas, it dwarfs all the similar buildings in D.C. Inside I looked up at the ceiling, reminded of my times in Italy. Then I looked down, trying to avoid vertigo. There was a tour we tried to stick with, but it just went on, and on, and on – so we ran around, took pictures, and then headed back to the street.

Walking back down to Sixth Street, we hung a left back to our car, but stopped off at a store named something not unlike “I love Music.” There you could buy guitar pick earrings (pretty easy to make yourself, but neat non the less.) and toilet seats shaped like guitars. I don't know how to sell this place, but it's worth checking out. If you're in Austin, why not – right? Though we spent only two hours in the city, and saw only a few streets, what we did see was charming, with great architecture, and a lot of life. Given the choice, I think I'd spend more time here than in New Orleans – but I did not see the night life of either (it's hard when you have to be on the road early the next morning) so that might enter into the factor. For daylight excursions though, I'd head down here.

There's also the food. If Louisiana and Texas had a duel, but instead of guns had some sort of cookery unit, and rather than a bullet had Gordon Ramsey judging not to the death, but rather to the pain, I'm not sure who would come out on top. I think Louisiana, as they offer so many different things – but when it comes to meat? you can't beat Texas.

We headed forty minutes outside the city to the Salt Lick Barbecue pit. And it was worth every mile. Katherine ate a regular place, leaving her stuffed. Me? When I see all you can eat for only seven dollars more – well it's foolish not to take advantage. The ribs were good – but after my second plate proved too much work to consume. The beef was good, and slathered in their spicy sauce (which you can buy by the gallon to take home, should you choose)... heaven. Then there was the sausage. The best sausage I have ever had. Fact. There it is – I've been been around the world, but this? This was the best.

Plate three was entirely sausage, but I switched it up for plate four. Luckily the beans weren't so good – so they were uneaten. The slaw was just alright, and the potatoes got boring after half a pint. This meal was mostly meat. And two liters of root beer. God I love Texas. I'm not saying I'm a small guy, but I should have done a before and after weighting with this state. Curse them and their delicious food.

With some beef left, I threw in the towel. Old me would have kept going, and then eaten more. But old me would have had his stomach explode like the spegettio guy in Seven. I've learned through years of pain.

We were going to go watch a AAA ball game after dinner, but with the all you can eat taking its sweet time, we were too late. With any luck we'll catch tomorrow night's game, and that will mark Katherine's birthday trifecta. Baseball, meat, and – oh yeah, I said it was important. We had to return to Hot Topic to grab the bag that Katherine made no mention of at the time. At the Capitol building I was informed how wonderful it was, with GIRs shiny face. I feel this may be over doing it, pulling out a GIR watter bottle, and GIR purse from her GIR bag wearing her GIR t-shirt... but then two people did complement her on her shirt today – and others have been talking about her new wallet, so...

I tell you what, she pulls more girls than I'd ever thought possible for anyone with this gear. Clearly somethings working. Or, wait, what?

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