Riki and I recently visited Austin and surrounding country for a much need birthday weekend escape. My cousin Lenn lives on an incredibly beautiful ranch down in Wimberley, smack in the middle of Texas hill country. It was absolutely beautiful- a magical place made of hills, mini horses, scorpions, beautiful creeks, natural springs, spice gardens, nature trails, a billion stars, roosters instead of alarm clocks, beautiful peacocks frolicking about...and our own hot tub. I cannot recommend the place enough.
After spending a couple of nights out under the stars we then packed up and headed to the big city to stay with a couple of friends who had just moved there. It was an absolutely great weekend, but far too short. The adventure continues below.
Mini horses! (in size order)
Still not exactly sure what the point of a mini horse is, but they sure are entertaining.
Scorpion attacked by ants.
Yep, a John Wayne clock. (Lenn- I got first dibs on this piece when you renovate)
Goats have the weirdest eyes.
Bob Marley chicken.
Jacob's Well is a crazy natural spring and complex labyrinth of underwater caves. As you can see above, it goes about 30 feet down before it opens up into the most extensive underwater cave system in Texas. At least 9 divers have died trying to explore the immense chambers. Most of their bodies and gear are still down there...somewhere. Many are still classified as "missing" because apparently a body needs to be present for a death certificate to be issued. Ironically, many divers have died trying to recover remains of those who already died. It's a mean cave. It's actually really creepy to open your eyes under water and know that there are some skeletons down there.
Watch this news clip:
Being a natural spring, the well is always pumping fresh artisan water up from the belly of the earth. It stays a constant 68 degrees, even in the winter, which actually gives it the effect of a warm spring since it's so much warmer than the surrounding air.
Water used to spew out of here and reach 10 to 30 feet above ground level. Old timers can still remember when the flow was so strong it was impossible to descend more than a couple of feet into the well. That has all changed. Twice now the flow has completely stopped...once in 2000 and again in 2008, due to droughts and pumping for nearby developments. The fate of the well does not look good. Others like it in central Texas have completely dried up. Let's hope Texas gets some rain soon.
Does pulling over on the side of the road to take a picture of a longhorn classify you as a tourist?
Meat is murder. Tasty, tasty, murder.
The herb and spice garden....smelled insanely good.
Austin City Limits.
"Better cuz we're baked"
I love Austin. It's just as cool and beautiful as I remember it. It's the perfect blend of nature and city. It's one of the few cities besides New Orleans where I could actually see myself living for a really long time. A lot of hipsters frolicking about, eating their veggie burgers with a folk and knife while wearing ironically mismatched articles of clothing, but they're mostly all clean and really nice. The same could not be said for the all the hipsters of the warehouse district and French Quarter.
There are many lessons I would love New Orleans to learn from Austin. For instance:
(1) Being "unique" and "original" does not mean you have to have roaches crawling all over the place. I get it- the wallpaper is original to 1843, but it starting to smell like crap.
(2) Can we get some healthy options in New Orleans? I swear, everywhere in Austin is "organic" and at least makes you think that what you are ingesting is healthy. In Nola the lightest lunch option we have will still put you in a coma. Please, I just want a fresh sandwich that isn't deep fried- at least every once in awhile. Everyone wants to be healthy in Austin, it's almost contagious. The same cannot be said for Nola.
(3) Take pride in how your crap looks. Austin is weird and funky and completely overly hipster at times, but they run a clean ship. The same cannot be said for about half the establishments in the Quarter. The dive bar certainly has it's place, but its almost like we're proud of how dirty our crap is here. Just look at F&M's or Grits...two buildings that should be condemned by the Board of Health, yet they're jammed packed every single night. I don't get it.
(4) Food trucks. Give me more food trucks! There are entire city blocks dedicated to food trucks in Austin! It's brilliant! With all the empty parking lots and blighted property in New Orleans, you think this would be a no brainer! More food trucks!
Food trucks everywhere!
"Never handle grounded bats."
Rik, so happy.
Waiting for the bats...a bit of a disappointment.
The High Ball...by far and away the coolest bowling ally I've ever been to. The special of the night? White Russians...El Duderino would have been proud.
The clock strikes midnight...let the birthday celebration commence.
Fried chicken and bacon infused waffle. Absolute perfection.
Barton Springs on a cold and rainy day...
Hangover + fried chicken + bacon waffles = upset stomach
Very, very cold...
Perfected the hair sling...no big deal.
Of course we get to Austin and it does nothing but rain...
Last night, last pic... :(
Austin and Texas Hill Country were amazing...we'll definitely be back very soon. A few more pics from Riki's camera to come...