Full Circle Back to Weird

After sitting parked in my parent’s driveway for two weeks, I was getting a bad case of “driveway fever.”    There are only so many trips down to the local Walmart, or through the many fast food drive-thrus lining the main street of our 5,000 resident town that I will allow myself to make.    And my dear parents mean well, but it is hard to resist the evil temptations when Dad makes his daily run to the local donut shop or fried chicken shack.

I also get a sense that my presence disrupts their normal routine, as they confess to concerns that my Saturday morning sleep-ins might mean that I have fallen prey to carbon monoxide poisoning.   Or my Dad’s comment that the food I prepared was “still raw.”  😉

With my Mom’s cataract surgery now pushed out until mid-Feb, I decided to make a run for it.   Not too far that I can’t get back in time for the surgery, but far enough to find an infrastructure that will allow me some entertainment, healthy eating, and a venue to get outdoors.    Where better than to return to the place where it all began, Groovin’ in the Grove!

Last March, I started out on my first full timing adventure, spending a month in Austin.   It was a proving ground of sorts, where I would test out my rig. This being my first RV, had I bitten off more than I could chew?    Would it be big enough that I could work inside for 8 hours without feeling the walls close in, yet small enough that I could feel comfortable maneuvering solo?

Every day was a learning experience as I had to ask the man at the front desk about the “city adapter” they required for sewer hookups, which meant I had to confess I had been “holding it” for three weeks.   I needed to get the bugs out of my MiFi, VOIP phone and router systems to see if I could actually take my virtual job on the road.   And figure out how to solve problems on the fly….like hail storms during conference calls!   Austin was the perfect venue….not too far from home if my new lifestyle failed miserably, yet far enough that I couldn’t go running back at the first mobile office obstacle, of which there were many.  But one by one, I worked through them with my technical support team (brother Don) and before I knew it, the month had gone in a flash, and I was ready to hit the road.

From this point, I would head East toward the Smokey Mountains, loop down through Atlanta and Lake Lanier, then make a five week crawl up through the Outer Banks.  I worked on my dream to visit all the National Parks from Assateague Island to Niagara Falls to the Shenandoah Valley down to Mammoth Cave, KY  to round out the circle.   2013 would end up being the most enriching and fulfilling year of my life, short of my RTW backpacking trip in 2002.  So it seems only fitting that I circle back for a “Dose of Weird” before I head out for the western loop.

So, “What’s new, Austin??”

Well, for one, there’s a new Ninja painter in town.  And he has a Kung Fu grip, it would appear…which comes in handy when you decide to paint an entire railroad bridge.

And construction is finished on the incredibly (I-would-say-“awesome”-but-I-won’t-succumb) hike and bike trail that surrounds Lady Bird Lake.

Check out the “swan” at the end of the bridge.

Esther‘s still keepin’ it current at The Pool with a new skit on “Perrymandering” (Rick Perry’s attempt to follow in the footsteps of  Wendy Davis)

Still hilariously politically incorrect after all these years!

The bats are gone for the winter, but their legacy keeps turning…

“Nightwing” — What other city would have a statue of a bat? Bats Amore’!

And they followed through on the promise of progress by paving paradise.  All my favorite food trucks  were evicted from South Congress.  Because goodness knows, what Austin needs is a few more concrete high rises.

But equally notable is “What’s NOT new?”

Thankfully, Uncle Billy’s is still brewing — “Brew and Que” –over the fence behind me with all the old favorites,   I can’t stay away from their German-style pilsner, “Rock of Ages.”

East Side Kings is still creating affordable gourmet goodness in four locations…

A food truck in a beer garden — SO sensible!

Poor Qui’s Buns, Beet Fries, and Sapporo on Draft

And the well heeled hipsters are still hanging out at the Whole Foods…

“I know, I know….it wasn’t my idea!”

It feels great to come full circle to the only part of Texas that ever made sense to me.   And the experience is sweetened all the more by the added 6,000 miles on the odometer of my rolling home…

12 thoughts on “Full Circle Back to Weird

    • Thanks, Sherry! It really is a fun town, especially here in the Barton Springs area where everything is so close. Hope you are staying warm in MT! I feel guilty laying here with shorts on, but tomorrow, the crazy Texas weather roller coaster plummets again…

  1. Beet fries??? no kidding… well? I like beets and I like fries…. looks delicious. aw, Austin. thanks for the tour and I reread your Groovin’ in the Grove… post ~ I have always wanted to stay there. I could LIVE there.

    Congratulations, Suzanne. Anxious to follow along on your going West adventures…

    • Carolyn, those Beet fries are from the food truck, “East Side Kings” which was opened by the local chef Paul Qui who went on to win “Top Chef” on TV. Everything they have there is just off the charts fresh and good. Next time you come!

  2. Thanks for the morning laugh…..I can so relate with the food choices regarding the previous generation. I think they were so used to canned vegetables that any veggie with a hint of crispness is considered under cooked.
    Thanks for sharing some interesting sights in Austin, a place we have yet to visit. Right now we’re hunkered down at Canyon Lake waiting for the weather to pass so we can visit the River Walk and Alamo in San Antonio. Stay warm!

    • Hi, Ingrid! Isn’t this weather frustrating!? Friday is the most perfect day ever, in the high 70’s, but of course I had to stay inside and work. Now, today on my day off, I am ready to hit the trail, but it is 43 degrees and rainy out there! Bbbrrrrr!!!! Wish we could meet up somewhere along the way, but I am only here in Austin for another week, then it is back to the Dallas area. Where are you guys headed after San Antonio? Did you visit Fredricksburg already? I stayed in that Lady Bird Municipal Park. Nothing fancy, but the location was pretty good….about 5 minutes out of town…

  3. Glad to be back in the land of the connected so I can check up on what you are up to now. Had to laugh about your parents “concerns”. Completely understand needing a break. I’ve never been to Austin so thanks for the tour of the truly noteworthy. Really dig those hipsters shoes. They don’t look quite so happy. So let me guess….to keep their feet dry, warm, clean….all of the above or something I didn’t even think of??

    • Hi, Sherry — I am so enjoying your trip through the Everglades! I wanted to ask about the “puppy feet,” but I was too embarrassed. The Whole Foods in Austin is right next to an REI, and there was a guy standing there looking like he had just been outfitted head to toe with their latest catalog of gear, including climbers helmet, backpack, fancy windbreaker, etc. Since the dog’s leashes were tied off, I never dreamed he was the owner, until I saw him glaring at me after I snapped the photo. I asked, “Are you the owner? Oh, I hope you don’t mind??” and quickly slithered away. 😉

  4. Since you are in Austin and I currently am skirting the beaches of the Yucatan (and only because I am thus far removed, I ask), where are the photos of that new Vegan diet? 😛

    • Carolyn, now THAT would be a diet for SURE!! Nothing on but a bib and a pair of hiking boots, and everyone would lose their appetite real quick! HAHAAHA!!!

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