|The journey to Austin was quick and easy, though we both believe Greyhound could take a pointer or two from ADO, the main bus line in Mexico. We made a half hour stop in San Antonio, where Sam and I raced over to a Quizno's to grab a little lunch. It's worth noting that this experience completely overwhelmed me - the line moved really fast and I couldn't remember all the things I once knew about Quizno's, or English for that matter. Our sandwich came out with no cheese (but she didn't ask me if I wanted cheese) and mayonnaise, which neither of us wanted. The next time I want to kick the incredibly slow person in front of me in line somewhere, I hope I might recall this little experience, though I'm guessing I won't.
In the Austin bus station, we were greeted by my old college roommate Sean and his wife, Kasandra. Two years ago, these two were high flyin' in New York City, got sick of the grind, quit, moved to Austin and decided to take a little time off. In this time off, they have completely remodeled the kitchen in their new house, built a shed, trained the hell out of their three incredibly cool dogs (Argo, Kuma and Abby), put together three or four computers and a home network, and made plans to bring Wal Mart to its knees. (Sean has actually contemplated working his way through the ranks of Wal Mart and then dismantling it all when he hits the top - for those of you who know Sean, this is not as far-fetched or improbable as it may sound). Sam had only met these guys once or twice, and I hadn't seen either of them for six years, so it was really cool to get to spend some time with them. Plus, they had one of the more comfortable beds we think we've ever slept on.
A very large portion of our visit in Austin consisted of sheer relaxation and great conversations. One result of this is that I took only one picture the entire time we were there. It's not that there weren't multiple vistas worthy of a picture, it's just that I never once thought to carry the camera with me. Some of the highlights of our visit:
* When we arrived on Thursday, we grabbed some food and immediately headed to a viewpoint high above one of the dammed off sections of the Lower Colorado that runs through Austin. A series of seven (or so) dams create a set of beautiful lakes that can be boated on (except for the lake right next to the city) and there are a few beaches as well. Toward the end of the visit at this park, a thunderstorm rolled in, so we got to witness our first storm in quite a while.
* On Friday, we had a drink at a restaurant called The Oasis which had an awesome view of Lake Travis (or at least I think that was the name), another one of the seven dammed off lakes. It was VERY windy, and on one occasion, Sam's menu was converted to a pointed projectile as it whipped to the other side of the deck and nearly beheaded someone at another table.
* Saturday night, we headed downtown to 6th Street to have some dinner and drinks and hunt down some music. Austin is well known for its music scene, and as we wandered around, we could hear music pumping from nearly every bar we walked past, of which there are plenty in the 6th Street scene. At 10:00 or so, the police blocked off the road to allow the hundreds of people walking around a little more space. This was a pretty impressive scene: I can't remember the last time I've seen this many people wandering the streets and cavorting. There were pizza windows every few steps and the sights and sounds were a bit overwhelming. This coming from a guy who's overwhelmed at Quiznos. Definitely a lot of energy. As for music, we discovered too late that a band I like a lot, The Decemberists, were playing a sold out show at a club on 6th Street so we walked for a bit and finally stopped in at a bar to listen to a band called Sigmund Fraud. Sounded pretty good, though the lead singer was not mic'ed appropriately and it was impossible to hear anything he was saying.
* On Saturday, we lived every Texan's dream: ate some pretty damn good BBQ and headed to the Garden Festival at the Botanical Gardens. The gardens were gorgeous and tranquil and we wandered around for quite a while checking out all them plants.
* Perhaps most noteworthy, we played a riotous game of Hunting, Fishing and Camping Trivia. Surprisingly enough, Sam was in the lead for a long while, but, though we didn't actually finish the game and Sean and Kasandra know five times more than both of us on these topics, I still think I skunked everyone with my extensive camping and elk knowledge . . . I ended with the most pies.
On Monday morning, we got up and grabbed some breakfast and then headed to the train station to catch our 10:30 train to Michigan. Of course, the train was delayed for whatever reason, so we spent an hour or so chatting in the parking lot before the train actually arrived. At the end of the conversation, we made our plans to meet up again in six or seven years and took off to catch our train.