Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Austin or Bust

Last week, Max, the wonder dog, and I took a road trip to Austin, Texas to deliver some goodies to daughter Deb, husband Josh and Stella the pug. After an overnight with son, Dave, wife Tina, grandson Drew and goldens Phog and Cooper, we headed for Austin. We hoped to escape, at least for a few days the cold and snow of Sioux Falls. 

Needless to say, this was a fantastic trip. Usually one dreams about a trip and the actual trip while great does not live up to the expectations. On this trip the events exceeded what I dreamed.

I left Sioux Falls earlier on Wednesday than originally planned because of potential weather. After a short 6 hour drive, I was in Lawrence, Kansas at the home of my children. I got to watch a little Sponge Bob with Drew and then it was out to eat with the family. We enjoyed just the usual typical quiet evening at dinner. We were home early to sit around and visit and play. Finally we were off to bed for an early start for the trip to Austin.

By 6:30 am on Thursday, we hit the road. Max just snuggled into his blanket in the back seat and I had an easy drive down to Fort Worth. We made a quick stop to visit with my high school best friend Robert and then back on the road to Austin.

As we drove into Austin, she lived up to her reputation for traffic. If the traffic were normal, the trip should take 3 hours but we were lucky in that it only took us 3 and a half to Deb and Josh’s house. For me Austin is about food. We went to dinner at a Mexican restaurant, El Chile. Their cuisine was a bit different than my usual Tex-Mex. My enchiladas were fantastic.

Friday was just more than I could have expected. Before I left Sioux Falls, I emailed author and Professor of History at the University of Texas, H. W. Brands. He was kind enough to have breakfast with Deb and me. I cannot tell you what an enjoyable hour that we talked. I greatly enjoy his books and his insights on various topics were remarkable. I will hopefully write more about Dr. Brands in another post.

Breakfast was followed by taking my car in to have some service work and then we were off to lunch. Deb and Josh took me to one of their favorite places, Rudy’s Bar-B-Q http://www.rudys.com/. I was surprised that I really liked it. Let’s see. I had a little (or was it a lot) of sliced brisket on a sandwich and some smoked sausage. All of which was washed down by an IBC Root Beer. God it was good.

We said good-bye to Josh. Poor fellow had to go to work. Deb and I had decided to explore another passion of mine, brewing beer. Online we had found, Real Ale Brewing in Blanco, Texas http://realalebrewing.com/. Off we went the 50 miles to Blanco for the beer tasting and tour. Real Ale Brewing was just another great experience.

After a couple of hours in Blanco, we headed back to Austin. We got home and played with Max and Stella. Josh came home and then we were off to our next food establishment. A year or two ago, I saw a program on Diner’s Drive-In’s and Dive’s on a bar in Austin, Casino El Camino http://www.casinoelcamino.net/. Guy Fiery showcased the bar’s Amarillo Burger. Well, I wanted to have one. Fortunately, Deb and Josh agreed to indulge me. All I can say is that it was very good, just not fantastic. I would go back again however.

After a six thousand calorie day, we went home for a little TV and to bed. I needed my rest for Saturday’s excitement.

Believe it or not, Saturday began with food. We started with breakfast at the Counter Cafe http://www.countercafe.com/. My Breakfast Tacos were excellent. Of course you are supposed to start the day with a good breakfast and that is just what we did. Then we returned home. Josh went to work out and Deb and I just vegged.

When Josh returned, we headed to our next local to gorge ourselves. We headed for Smitty's in Lockhart, Texas http://www.smittysmarket.com/. Lockhart has been voted the Barbecue Capital of Texas by the state legislature and I have been going there since my student days at UT. Smitty's is the original home of Kreuz Market but after a split in the family changed its name. The barbecue is still out of this world. I only had a little for lunch. Let's see, a half pound of smoked brisket and a hot ring of sausage. Oh don't forget the Coke to enhance the meal.

We ended the tour with a drive through the UT Campus. The campus is obviously a great deal larger than when I graduated 37 years ago but I don't remember all the buildings that seem to have been there when I was. I did see some familiar ones which flooded my mind with super memories. Nostalgia is great.

We ended the day with ice cream from Amy's http://www.amysicecreams.com/2.0/#/home/. The Belgian Chocolate ice cream was just over the top. Can you believe that I wasn't hungry for dinner. Well after a relaxing evening with family and the puppies, Max and I turned in. We were up early for what turned out to be an 1100 mile drive on Sunday to return to Sioux Falls.

As I began, this trip went beyond my expectations. As you can tell, I love to eat and I went to one of the culinary centers of the world. Probably, it is a good thing that I don't live there as I would certainly weigh 300 pounds. But Austin is a wonderful place to visit. Maybe next time I will do the music scene for which Austin is famous as well.


  1. Come back soon! ACL is just around the corner. We loved having you.

  2. ACL is going to be great!!! Thanks for putting up with Max and me. Sorry for all of the cholesterol and extra exercise that is needed with all that we ate.