Monday, July 10, 2006

Deep in the heart of Texas.

My week in Austin fast comes to a close. Believe it or not, I'll probably have my first BBQ meal at lunch today. Driving south on Lamar toward Barton Springs, I'll stop at the local hangout Green Mesquite. I may or may not wander on to campus then and do the prints section of the Blanton Museum, which I skipped during last week's first visit. Tonight, Isaac and I might eat at the University of Texas Club, ensconced in Darrell K. Royal Texas Memorial Stadium. Tomorrow it's back to the grind in Starkville, taking an evening flight out of Austin to Houston Hobby and then on to Jackson followed by the drive back to Starkvegas for a 6-9 pm MCAT class Wednesday.

Looking back to my last post, let me pick up the thread where I dropped it. Friday I spent the morning taking a nice walk around the entirety of the Clarksville and Castle Hill neighborhoods. Then I headed south of the Colordao River/Town Lake to check out South Congress Ave, the famous urban bat colony, and the local outsider art scene. I stopped at yarddog and admired Eric Bellis AKA Rico Bell's portraits of this year's Rock + Roll Hall of Fame Inductees. yarddog also supplied my John Langford Elvis by way of Pollock portrait, also known as a copy of the album cover art for The Mekons' "The Mekons Rock 'N' Roll".

MS mitosis and Langford's Elvis ala Pollock

I then strolled down the block for a nice lunch at Guero's Taco Bar, a personal fave of former President Clinton. That afternoon, I spent some time in Austin's largest bookstore, BookPeople. Older than Barnes and Noble or Borders but similar in style though it never cashed in by franchising, BookPeople is not the great independent bookstore you might expect in a huge college town. Instead it has a nice space, lots of seating areas, but relatively bland book sections, and weak and dated staff selections. A real disappointment in a way given the high expectations Waterloo Records and Video set for the local cultural commerce market.

That evening, Isaac and I had a pint on the back covered beer garden at the Dog and Duck and then an outstanding Indian meal at the Clay Pit restaurant.

Saturday we spent much of the day out. After a quick drive around some of North Central Austin, to let the rain pass. We stopped at the Kitchen Door and picked up chicken salad sandwiches for a picnic. Then we drove south of Town Lake parked next to the Parkside Community (Montessori) School and began a hike around Town Lake, which started on the Barton Springs Creek tributary, then headed east along Town Lake until we crossed at the Lamar Avenue Footbridge and headed back to the west. We stopped about 2/3 of the way down at a nice pergola with lake view for lunch. Here are some of our fellow hikers on the trail:

Town Lake Trail

Then on past Austin High to the MoPac footbridge with a stop at the water stations provided by Run-Tex. We marched on to Barton Springs Pool in Zilker Park, where we swam and had a nice cool down before returning to the car.

Here are shots of the pool and the spring mouth in the upper pool.

Barton Springs Pool

Spring mouth at Barton Springs

On the way home, we caught the tail end of the Germany Portugal World Cup 3rd place match on the back patio of the Shoal Creek Saloon replete with a small pitcher of Miller Lite.

Sunday morning we drove around the western and northern hill country of Austin adjacent to Lake Austin, taking in Mount Bonell, the Laguna Gloria art museum and grounds (formerly an Italiante mansion from the teens and now a center for art classes and education) and a quick stop at the County Line BBQ on Ranch Road 2222 for some iced tea and to watch the turtles get fed. Got home just in time for the World Cup final preview. Not the greatest match and a moment of madness from Zizou or perhaps the French who outplayed the italians throughout might have won. Too bad a magical month of futbol is now done for another quadrennium. off to the 'cue!


Green Mesquite BBQ

I did end up having a nice meal at Green Mesquite: BBQ sausage tortilla wrap, side of hushpuppies, and ice tea.


Tonight, we hit one of Austin's finest, Wink, instead of the UT Club. After a pleasantly invigorating walk from home to the restaurant featuring a 300 or so foot drop in elevation, we settled in to a 5 course degustation menu paired with wine. Almost four hours later, we emerged to complete the great circle route along Lamar to 6th and back up Blanco. An evening to savor and remember for a long, long time.

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