Just got back from Texas, y’all! Not just any part of Texas. Austin Texas – what some call the political ‘blue dot in the red sea.’ What residents proudly proclaim ‘weird.’ And what visitors like me found pretty irresistible with its combination of relaxed, friendly vibe; cool, small, clean city bordered by the Colorado River; great barbecue (naturally); and lots of people sharing the roads on their bicycles and scooters. Also clear blue skies and hot summer sun that felt fantastic without that intense humidity we’ve been battling in the Northeast so much this summer.
Most exciting for my family and me, though, was the stately University of Texas (UT) at Austin, which combines all these qualities with the quality education we’re sure son Dan will relish as he pursues his Master’s/Doctorate in Chemistry research.
My kids’ new career and life adventures have brought us down south several times this year – Virginia and North Carolina (for daughter Jamie’s respective teaching jobs), Florida (just for a quick, fun reprieve), now Texas.
All this follows a summer that was many things at the same time, with four adults and five cats in our household. It was wild and wonderful. It was cluttered and somewhat chaotic. It was quality time with kids (and cats and ‘grandcats’) that was super-happy, but tinged with the impending sadness of two kids and three cats vacating at the end of summer.
Once I rejuvenate some more, I may have to blog about the ‘extra-full nest’ we experienced all summer. In the meantime, just want to share some of the best things about my first short stay in Texas last week, some of which truly surprised me:
Best church signs:
Best downtown Austin sites:
Best views of the impressive state capital building:
Probably my new favorite statue of all time (oddly in the midst of several Confederate monuments on the state capital grounds):
Best barbecue venues (for great pork and beef ribs, brisket, sausage, and fish and meat tacos): La Barbecue (where the person right before me got the last smoked noodles and cheese – will have to go back!), Torchy’s Tacos (whose fire-hot ‘Brushfire’ jerk chicken had Dan in happy pain), Salt Lick Barbecue (best beef ribs ever) and Pint House Pizza (for a brief meat reprieve!)
Best (admittedly first) peach pie cupcake ever: Magnolia Market at the Silos – about 90 miles North of Austin – where I wore a great big grin start to finish at the mere thought of being in the hallowed land of my HGTV ‘Fixer Upper’ show idols Chip and Joanna (‘Jo Jo’) Gaines, in Waco, TX
Best ‘Texas revisited,’ second night home meal: amazing bean salad (a.k.a., Texas ‘caviar’), pork ribs and corn
Best son ever (in or out of Texas):
Best of luck Dan and look forward to many more happy visits to your new ‘home away from home’! You too Jame – in Arlington, VA – the dream!