Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Keeping Austin Weird

We spent the last week in Austin because BJ had a conference there, and the boys and I felt it was only right to tag along. I had been very much looking forward to spending time in this truly weird city, seemingly in direct contrast to the fact that I spent not a single minute researching anything about it before we left. Nevertheless, Austin was waiting when we arrived, and based on some recommendations from friends we found our way around pretty quickly.

One of my greatest and favorite friends reported to me that she and her husband hadn't been nearly hipster enough for Austin, a statement which I only guessed meant that she thought the city was weird and wasn't a huge fan. I'm not sure. I'll have to ask her next time I see her. What this says about me I'm not sure, because I felt very much at home in the city and was extremely regretful about having to come home at all. I've never considered myself to be a hipster; I actually kind of have a self-image of being a goody two-shoes. I suppose upon deeper self-reflection, though, I must admit that a woman who is a cloth-diapering, baby-wearing, breastfeeding-in-public, nose-pierced, tattooed, blue-voting mama might be a tad bit alternative when compared to the Oklahoma norm. Although I feel comfortable in Oklahoma, I also feel a kinship to most liberal cities with progressive social movements. Our four years in Minneapolis were fantastic, although I must say I never did feel completely at home in the broad-minded Twin Cities (save the divergent little community that somehow elected Michelle Bachmann into office)--but that was only because those people really love frigid, eight-month winters, a characteristic that I still can't wrap my mind around.

Politics and preferences aside, the five of us had a spectacular time. We stayed at the Hyatt Regency downtown on South Congress Avenue and the river. Underneath the Congress Avenue bridge is an urban colony of something like a million and a half bats, and every night at sundown they all come flying out at the same time to hunt insects. A giant crowd gathers every evening to witness the spectacle, and it really was mind-blowing. Our hotel was within a two-minute walk of the site, which was fun. The hotel pool was a favorite with our family, and we could be found there everyday making new friends. Because the boys wore floatation devices and because the pool had very wide steps down into a large shallow part, it was quite reasonable for me to take all three boys to the pool by myself and never fear losing control of the situation. George even became comfortable enough that he would jump from the side of the pool in all by himself. Sadly, though temperatures routinely climbed into the 90's on all days of our stay, the hot tub was the bigger favorite among Silas and George. Favorite restaurants and food trucks (of which Austin has many) included Torchy's Tacos, Lucy's Fried Chicken, Home Slice Pizza, Hopdoddy Burgers, Genuine Joes, Elevation Burger, Amy's Ice Cream, and tons of local delicious beers. Some nights we enjoyed meals outside on communal picnic tables under shady trees with Christmas lights in them, and we were joined by an Austin community that loved to spend time outside even in the heat. Only in a place with great food could I chase three children all day, swim in the pool, sometimes go for a jog on the treadmill when they all went to bed, and still gain weight. Alas, it was worth it. Lastly, on the way home we broke up the trip into two days. On day one, we headed to Dinosaur Valley State Park, southwest of Fort Worth, to view fossilized dinosaur tracks from two separate species all along a riverbed. The second day we enjoyed the Dallas World Aquarium and lunch in downtown Dallas at El Fenix before piling into the car and heading home at the last possible moment. Grateful for getaways!

He caught the eye of many a lady in the pool.
Drinking straight half-and-half (or, as he dubbed it, "little coffees") at a pancake restaurant

Yup, I think they're all in there.
Painting at "The Thinkery"

The Thinkery was truly a very neat experience for the kids.

Van! Van! He's our man!--at Hopdoddy. We loved the hanging highchairs with chest harness!

Can you see all those little bats zooming out?

The boys and me at Sandra Bullock's deli restaurant, Walton's Fancy and Staple. Sadly, Sandy and I didn't become BFF's during this escapade...but only because she didn't make an appearance at her restaurant while we were there.

Van getting love from his bros. I only just now realized how blonde George is.

Acrocanthrosaurus tracks!

At the Dallas World Aquarium. Don't let him fool you. I wasn't the only one having fun.

My favorite shot of the trip

Let me put this into perspective: that crab was like three feet wide.

A boy and his daddy

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