Last week was spring break at the school where my husband Mark works, and my work hours are flexible (since I’m still underemployed… but that’s a post for another day), so early in March we decided to take the plunge and take an actual week off. We were psyched for a trip since we haven’t had a vacation longer than a 3-day weekend since our honeymoon almost 4 years ago (sad, isn’t it? What can I say, don’t marry a workaholic!).
Once we decided to do it, we had to come up with a destination. Southwest Airlines was offering ridiculously low fares to Austin, Texas, where my beloved brother Nathan lives, so off we went. Nathan took time off work and was our personal chauffeur and tour guide, and he and his housemates put us up in style. Spoiler alert: the trip was awesome.
Here are some of the highlights:
My brother’s girlfriend gave us an evening tour of the state capitol building, including the underground tunnels used by government employees. We got to peek through windows into congresspeople’s offices. It was extremely cool.
We visited Kreuz Market, arguably the best barbeque in Lockhart, TX. Lockhart is the barbeque capital of Texas, and Texas is pretty much the barbeque capital of the world, so yeah… we ate the best barbeque in the world.
I took pictures of just about every funny, ironic, creative, or vintage sign we saw around town. Ended up with about 500 photos. Quite the photopalooza.
We visited the Mean-Eyed Cat, a Johnny Cash-themed bar. Yeah, it was as amazing as it sounds. The jukebox was first-rate, one of the good, old-fashioned, non-downloadable ones, about 80% classic country. Also, the bartender must’ve taken Lawrence from Office Space (“Hey Peter, man, check out channel 9, check out this chick”) as his personal role model. When we told him we were in town on spring break he lifted up his shirt and yelled “Wooooo! Spring break!”
Sadly, I wasn’t fast enough to get a picture of that.
And we saw a real live cowboy outside of Lockhart! We had stopped at a sort of rural mini mart for sodas and met a man who had ridden his horse to the store, apparently to sit on the porch and chat, and watch the world go by. (No one seemed to think it was as funny as I did that he tied the horse up by the gas pump.)
But our trip was awesome for more than a week of sightseeing and hanging out with my fantastic brother and his fantastic social circle, as well as some dear friends of our own. And it was awesome for more than the incredible food we consumed for 5 days (aside: Mark gained 5 pounds in one week, I lost 2. Clearly the all-BBQ-and-Tex-Mex diet works better for women. Yes, R&D is on it.). It was awesome because for a week we could pretend we didn’t have jobs to worry about, we didn’t have to clean anything or pay bills or do any real-life stuff… just have fun. Dude, I’m starting to get this whole vacation concept. This could change my workaholic ways!
We’re already working on ways to bring the vacation mentality back with us. Or at least, since we unfortunately do need to resume working and checking email and paying bills, we’re at least going to crib some of the creative ideas we saw around Austin. Truly that city has cornered the market on awesome, but surely we can have our little bit of awesome in the Bay Area!
I think in embracing his inner hippie, Mark is about to begin experimenting with home brewing. (This idea actually horrifies me, but everyone’s favorite hobby is giving me a hard time, so why should I deprive Mark of the pleasure?) Stay tuned for his account of this adventure.
Also, the Mean-Eyed Cat is covered inside and out with Cash lyrics stenciled in black spay paint. We’ve decided to stencil some of our favorite song lyrics and nail them up on our fence. More on that project as it develops…
Lastly, just about every place in Austin, whether it’s a private home, a restaurant, a bar, or a store, is filled with cool salvaged stuff. Rusted farm tools, carnival signs, music memorabilia… you name it, they’ve got it.
This has totally inspired us to start our own collection. We’ve been looking for something to do with our new, rather undeveloped backyard: now we have our purpose. In Austin there’s a very controversial structure called the Cathedral of Junk, a sort of a tower of… well, junk. Recently city authorities have been called in to force the Cathedral’s creator to bring it up to city code.
While we didn’t have a chance to join the grassroots effort of people in Austin pitching in to save the Cathedral, perhaps we can help the spirit of the cause by at least creating our own collection of stuff with character and style and history. I saw a Craigslist ad today for a free toilet- perhaps we’ve found our starter.