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  • Writer's pictureRachel McCarty

Austin - November 2019

Updated: Sep 21, 2020

Hello, Inkers! Thanks for taking a peek at my first travel blog. I’ve already failed at my ‘post once a week’ goal, but I’ve been working on getting my blog site set up and perfected. I also still have a full-time job. But I’ll work on being regular with the blogs. On with it – Austin, Texas!

Even though my preference is to be at home, alone (hello INFJ!), I really do love to travel. One of my best friends, Phlynn, is as untethered as I am when it comes to husbands, children and pets, so we often travel together. With only a short window of available travel time and a desire to go somewhere neither of us have been, Phlynn and I decided on a long weekend in Austin, Texas.

My nature is that of a compulsive planner, but when traveling I prefer to have plenty of ideas of things to do or see, while leaving most of my time unplanned so as to ‘go with the flow.’ Phlynn is the same as me in that regard, and that’s why we’re such good travel partners. So with a list of potential activities and an Airbnb booked, Phlynn and I flew off to Austin on the morning of Thursday November 7th.

We flew Frontier, whose home is now in the south terminal of the Austin airport. I had received an email from Frontier earlier in the week mentioning the change to the south terminal, but I didn’t think much of it because I figured there would be plenty of signs explaining how to get everywhere. When we landed, we de-boarded on the tarmac via a ramp. That’s not unheard of so, again, I didn’t think much of it. But then we entered the terminal. And when I say ‘terminal’ I mean ‘very small building.’ We were only allowed to go left, which led into a room containing the luggage carriage, restrooms, a few chairs and some vending machines. Later we would find out that the other side contained the check-in counters and the waiting area with restrooms in each section, and one convenience store in the waiting area. There was also a taco restaurant outside with a fairly sizable patio. But that’s all.

Turns out, the south terminal is a completely separate building from the main terminal. If you could drive a straight line between the two terminals it would only take a couple minutes, but the line isn’t straight. Not that it takes a long time, maybe 15-20 minutes, but the route is definitely what I would call ‘round-a-bout.’ After Phlynn and I picked up our bags from the practically toy-sized luggage carriage, we took the not-so-straight shuttle ride to the main terminal and picked up our rental car. The car rental company was low on available cars and I very quickly declined the minivan, so we got a free upgrade to a luxury car. I don’t remember what it was, so don’t ask. All I know is it wasn’t a minivan.

Let’s just say that driving Texas roads is an adventure. It honestly looked like the highway in Austin had been blown up and they were just making due with the frontage roads. And left turns – whew! I don’t think I can even describe the nightmare that is, and that goes for the highway ‘exits’ as well. On our way to San Antonio one day we missed our highway on-ramp because it split from our side of the road to travel between two lanes of opposing traffic. Sort of explains the nearly 2,900 traffic deaths in the state.

The ’bombed highway’. If I had gotten a picture from the other side, it would look even more like a scene from the apocalypse.

Once we checked in to our Airbnb house, we went to H.E.B. for some snacks and breakfast items. We don’t have H.E.B. in Colorado, but I wish we did. They have some great grab-n-go items that would be quite helpful with lunches and snacks in my life. We also checked out the little boutique inside the grocery store, and I bought my new favorite bracelet, so WIN! After the store, Phlynn and I just settled in to the house and watched some TV before going to bed.

Our Airbnb was actually in Bastrop, not Austin, in a gated community. It was a beautiful area with beautiful houses, each of which had a significant sized plot of land. We chose our house because they have a salt water pool in the backyard, but the weather did not cooperate and we weren’t able to use the pool. Phlynn and I both agreed, though, that the house was still worth it and that we would book that house again in the future (hopefully in a season we could enjoy the pool).

Front of the house from the street. This is the front yard! And there’s our luxury car on the right.
Part of the backyard, including the pool and lounge areas, the top of the grill on the left, and a lot of (currently soggy) yard. There was plenty more yard to the left and right of this picture, and I was standing on a patio with some cozy seating.
Master bathroom window above the bathtub. This bathroom was a dream, with a separate shower, two sink areas on opposite sides of the room, plenty of storage, and the bathtub that neither Phlynn or I ever used. Phlynn’s room had a Jack & Jill bathroom between her room and one of the other bedrooms. There was also an additional room with some bunk beds.

The husband of a friend of ours grew up in Bastrop and she suggested visiting the little town, so we decided to check out Main Street on Friday. One of my goals since I bought my house a couple years ago is to build my art collection. Now, I’m not talking about original Monet’s; I just want unique art that can’t be found at the house of anyone who shops at Target. Nothing against that type of art/décor, that’s just not where I’m at in my life. So when I found a 6x6 acrylic drip piece that doesn’t look like an acrylic drip piece (it looks like some sort of plant) and that matches my house, I bought it. We also got delicious cupcakes from Simply Sweet Cupcakes, and I bought some mulling spices after tasting mulled wine for the first time (yum!)

A little area in Bastrop with a restaurant, café, shops and a bunch of antique, rusty stuff. Pretty much everything I love.

After sharing a couple of whiskey flights at the distillery in town and wandering through the rest the shops, our travels took us back to Austin, by way of the Berdoll Pecan Farm. I’m not big on pecans, but I think it’s illegal to not stop at Berdoll if you’re in the area. Or so I’ve heard. My parents love pecans so I got them a mix of flavors. Once we’d had our fill of pecan tasting and gifts, we continued on our way to Austin for the Waterloo Greenway Creek Show.

The Creek Show was one of my favorite parts of our trip. There were seven or so installations along the creek itself, then there were some other attractions across the street. All the installations used light in some way to express their statement or idea. Some of them were interactive, which is great in theory, but people are jerks and were damaging the art. My favorite pieces were Downstream Upcycle and The Ghost Boat. Downstream Upcycle was a ton of hotel shampoo bottles filled with glow-in-the-dark neon liquid that were attached to a wall of sorts. The Ghost Boat was a boat structure that had glowing oars that moved. It was so pretty, and the reflection in the water looked like an infinite black hole past the glowing oars.

Downstream Upcycle. I love neon and glow-in-the-dark (who doesn’t?)!
The Ghost Ship. My favorite favorite (yes, I meant to say that twice).

People say Austin is a ‘cool’ city. I’d probably disagree. To be fair, Phlynn and I only spent a handful of hours there, but the ‘go to’ places that I read or heard about were bars and restaurants. Don’t get me wrong, I love trying new restaurants and I enjoy a libation or two. But it just felt a bit like Vegas or New Orleans to me. Like Vegas without the amusement rides and giant hotels. Or New Orleans on a slow day. And that’s just not my scene. The people that enjoy bar-hopping and getting drunk can have Austin. Too many people and too much noise for my INFJ self. I’m out. (I sound like I’m one hundred years old, don’t I?) But let me know if I missed the real ‘cool’ part of Austin. Besides the Creek Show, that is. The Creek Show was cool.

That was it for Friday. On Saturday we ventured out to San Antonio. Both Phlynn and I have been to the Riverwalk, but a friend of Phlynn’s who now lives in Texas was going to be fairly close and we wanted to meet up. I like the Riverwalk, but there were a lot of people and I’m not a fan of crowds, if you haven’t noticed. I did learn something new, though! Our river cruise operator was very knowledgeable about the area and he showed us the optical illusion of the ‘paper-thin’ building; I hadn’t been told about that last time I was there. Once Phlynn’s friends got there, we ate dinner and then headed back to the house.

Just some pretty flowers along the river. I liked the contrast between the bright pink and the different shades of green.
The ‘paper-thin’ building.

Sunday we went to Fredericksburg for the wine trail. Phlynn is a big wine fan and she knows her stuff. I, on the other hand, do not. We always joke that if I like a wine Phlynn will hate it, and vice versa. I like my wine cheap and sweet. I’m surprised Phlynn hasn’t unfriended me yet because of that. Needless to say, our polar opposite tastes in wine don’t stop us from doing plenty of tastings. In fact, we taste a lot more wines with our varying preferences. Our best stop was Messina Hof. Part of the reason I have a hard time with wine is that the descriptions promise yummy fruits and chocolate and other flavors, but the kind of wine that Phlynn likes tastes like dirt to me. At Messina, though, I bought a red wine (whaaaa????) that promised butterscotch flavor and DELIVERED butterscotch flavor. It’s called Aggie Network Midnight Yell. So good.

That pretty much sums up our trip to Austin. We flew out Monday without any issue. All in all, a very good trip. Stay tuned for the next one!

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