When we finally arrived at our halfway point, Austin, TX, we were all good and fried. After a week on the road, it was so nice to be at our friends' gorgeous home on Lake Austin, to rest and recover and recoup. After a great night’s sleep, Harry got up with the pup, while Roman, Ford and I slept in. Best. Gift. Ever. When the boys and I finally stirred, we saw that Obi was having the time of his life, playing with our friends’ dogs, running all over the lawn and leaping off the lake wall in to the crisp, cool water. Dog heaven, for sure.
For breakfast, we headed to Torchy’s Damn Good Tacos, and yup, they were indeed damn good. Roman and I had the Wrangler Taco and Harry had the Democrat. Our friends tell us that when President Obama came to Torchy’s, he, too had the Democrat. But of course.
We drove back to the lake and just spent a quiet day enjoying all the gorgeousness. There was a short hike with dogs, lots of fetch, and plenty of swimming – with kids, adults and pups. For the first time since we left home, I wasn’t feeling guilty or selfish for bringing our sweet Obi along - he was having a ball. Our friend said, “You know, dogs just want to be with their people.” True, but they also want to swim in a lake and sprint around a yard like maniacs.
In the afternoon, Harry took a nap, and the boys and I sat on the screened-in dock, reading, writing, drawing, and enjoying the cool breeze that came with a light afternoon shower. I was starting to feel like I was officially back in the South, and that something familiar was wrapping gently around me. As I eased in to the sound of the raindrops on the dock, and the change in the temperature from hot to cool, I knew that the hardest part of our journey was over, and that the comfortable and safe part had begun. There was still adventure to come, for sure, but nothing that we couldn’t handle. After the heat dome, the emergency vet, and the west Texas flat, we had made it to this gorgeous oasis, and all was well.
That night we went into the city for dinner and music at Stubbs BBQ. The food was great, and the band, Lake Street Dive, was amazing. The stage was covered, but the crowd was out in the open, with a storm wind blowing through the courtyard. At one point, the lead singer shouted, “I feel like Beyoncé!” as her hair and dress swirled all around. It was awesome. Their encore was a live version of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody that brought the house down. It takes serious balls to cover Queen at all, ever. But live, and in between Dixie storms? Dayum.
Day two in Austin was all about the lake. Our friends took all of us out so the boys could attempt waterskiing, and we could all get dragged around on a raft. Roman and Ford were troopers and cheered each other on while almost, almost getting up on their skis. And when it was time to pull out the raft, they went alone, together, and with me. It was a blast, and we laughed and smiled until our bellies and cheeks ached. Our friends brought snacks and Harry manned a brilliant playlist. The skies were blue, the water was cold, and the day was perfect, perfect, perfect.
That night, we drove over to The Salt Lick for a BBQ dinner with some more old friends of Harry’s. We sat outside with Obi, and talked and ate for hours. All the kids played together – and with Obi - and danced to the live music. Austin was doing even more of its magic.
After two nights in one perfect place, and the first long stretch of just plain, old ease, it was so hard to imagine getting back on the road the next morning. But we had miles to go, and as much as I wanted to move into our friends’ guesthouse situation and live there to the end of my days, it was time to get moving.
On our last morning in Austin, we went back downtown. We ate breakfast at the original Torchy’s, because, really, who doesn’t need more breakfast tacos? After we ate, Harry dropped us off, and then left to pick up the ultimate Austin souvenir: four new tires! Yay! The boys and I strolled along South Congress and nosed in the shops. I bought a beautiful silver ring at Limbo, and then we got some cold sweetness at Amy's Ice Creams. Harry joined us soon after, and we turned once again toward the freeway. We talked about how much we loved Austin and I mused about how fun it would be to live there. Roman and Ford went silent. I turned to them and asked, “Does it make you nervous that I talk about moving to almost every place we travel?” Roman looked me in the eye and said, simply, “Yes.” Okay, note taken.
Our next destination was Lafayette, Louisiana, but on the way we stopped in Luling, Texas for some world-famous BBQ at City Market. (Yes, somehow, we were about to put away more BBQ. But, in our defense, we were in TEXAS, y'all! Vegan cleanse comes later!!) Luling has a population of about 5,400, and I swear most of them were either inside City Market or eating their BBQ outside – in the 90+ degree heat. And I completely understood why - it was insanely delicious. The ribs and brisket were so tender and so perfectly seasoned, and then coated with their incredible sauce. We went inside and checked out the smokeroom where the cooks were doing their thing. It definitely lived up to its name, with the fragrant clouds of smoke lending a gorgeous, otherworldly air to the space.
After our meal and a short walk for the pup, we hopped in the car and drove off, leaving Texas behind, and with our eyes fixed on Louisiana.
Where We Ate:
Who We Saw:
Where We Shopped: