There are things I love about my first week in Austin;
Hiking through constellations of pink and blue flowers in the early morning to Barton Springs where fresh pecans scatter the ground and leaves hang down in thick, patterns of green crescent moons. The way the turquoise springs bleed across their limestone canvas. Young parents crouching at the waters edge feeding ducks and turtles with their children, bikers pedaling by, kayakers paddling by, dogs and their owners run by taking full advantage of a beautiful day under a bright Texas sun.
How the city has pioneered their own food and drink scene with boutique smoothie shops, patisseries, and distilleries. The empire of Tito’s Vodka, American-made and gluten-free, that swept across the country. The innovators that renovated the suburban Rainey Street neighborhood into chic cocktail bars or beer gardens. The embellished food trucks parked nearby where burned out bar-goers binge on tacos and tortilla chips. (Myself included.) Or the food trailers parked in lots feeding picnic tables full of patrons.
Its conservation efforts, its buildings that look like animals, the millions of bats that migrate here just to breed and then swarm out each night in a big black cloud to feed.
How the whole city just thrums with ENERGY which could be due to the fact that it is the fasted growing city in the country for the past four years. It just doesn’t seem fair to the rest of us that people in this city are having so much fun. It is no wonder, Austin locals have developed into a rare hybrid of traditional southern charm mixed with bohemian grit.
I love all of it. But we will get to that.
I wanted my first post about Austin to be about a different kind of Austin I was introduced to; which I quickly claimed to be MY Austin.
This second part of my trip was spent shooting Fireball with a bunch of bartenders and bouncers that keep most of 6th Street lubricated. Once my original plans got all busted up (I would explain but I am still not really sure what happened) and I was suddenly calling hotels to book last minute reservations for the night, I fell back into the arms of my kind. The restaurant folk, the outsiders, the wolves at the table.
Meredith was a bubby, quick-witted brunette who bartended at Cain and Abel’s. I was introduced to her by her roommate, Connor, who also works as a bouncer there and is an old friend of mine.
“Your first time in Austin?” She asked. I nodded, bracing myself for the awkward silence or the polite cold shoulder women so often give to each other when males are present.
“Good. We’re gonna git you drunk.”
The girls ushered me from bar to bar. It was familiar to me; gritty, debaucherous, lovely. With them, I plunged into the underbelly of Austin. I had found my pack.
There were beer tastings at the craft beer shop On Tap, burgers and beers with the tatted up day crew of Cain and Abel’s at Black Sheep’s patio seating, some sort of pineapple drink while sitting in a beer garden watching elegant dancers hanging from harnesses in neon costumes pirouette across buildings. Scarfing steak tacos from a nearby food truck as Natalie, leggy and inked out all over told me about her missionary work in Haiti and how excited she was for her upcoming trip.
Sitting by a fire drunk and exhausted, the night’s energy swelled once more with everything we had left in us to dance and spin on white couches of Rio’s roof top lounge.
We made it home with the help of the rideshare service, Uber, known for their low fees, punctuality, salary paid drivers and the ability to track the reserved car’s location.
There was fried chicken for breakfast at Lucy’s and later the perfectly blonde, beautiful Sarah finished her shift and joined us for movies and sushi.
None of this is spectacular.
Well, actually, keeping me out past 1am and getting me to take shots of anything pineapple flavored is..actually pretty spectacular. (Well done.)
But it raises the question of what the word “vacation” means. Is it taking a break from your life, stepping out of your shoes to perhaps wander in someone else’s along the trails at Barton Springs or on a privately owned boat out to Hula Hut?
Or maybe one of the greatest things about vacationing in a new place is it allows you to be your truly, whole-souled self trading in boat tour for a foot soldier’s journey of a typical Friday night in Austin.