We neglected to think about the rest of the 9-5 world when we left for Austin around 5:00pm last Friday and hit traffic, go figure. It wasn’t too bad and in a little less than two hours we reached our hostess’ house in Austin.
Rachel had a friend of the family who had family in Austin. Although not quite sure who I was about to meet I was very excited to see Austin, the famed liberal bubble in Texas. Our hostess Janice was gracious enough to serve up a late dinner after her son Nick had arrived as well. Luck for us Nick was our age and (with some persuasion) willing to give us a tour of the infamous 6th Street bar scene.
I would like to say there are no words, because there weren’t at first, but after the initial shock I had endless observations to make.
The street we parked along, got help me if I could ever find my way there again, reminded me of Barmuda in Eugene or Ballard in Seattle. Quite a few bars all together, larger music venues tossed in, etc. Here, the sound was distinctly different. The jumble of music being blasted through speakers or performed for a eager crowd drowned out the street noises with little difficulty. However, this was not 6th street.
Reaching the corner we turned right, into adult Disneyland. A good trial run for New Orleans I assume but little of my previous nights out had prepared me for this. Nearly every store front was a bar each with a different name, bouncer, drink special, image to sell. Where to begin?
Nick was patient as we wandered the row of bars. “They close of the street here on weekend nights” he explained. It created an odd blend of a hometown street fair/Main Street at Disneyland/and a night out in Isla Vista where sidewalks don’t exist.
There were street performers, preachers, girls dancing in windows, dear god so much people watching! Our first stop was a sleezy staple bar boasting the misleading name, “Shakespeare’s Pub.” The drink special there? $5 mini-pitchers of Long Island Ice Teas which was quite a deal for us travelers on a budget. The main draw however was the rooftop bar. From there we could look down on to 6th Street and across to the Austin skyline.
We made a couple more stops on our tour of 6ht Street before calling it good. Overwhelming as it was I enjoyed hanging out with Rachel and Nick. Plus I don’t think I’ll find people-watching like that for a while.
Saturday morning we woke up, a little late as per usual, and gathered our things. Time to hit the road again. As much as we would have like to see more of Austin, Houston was the next stop on the agenda and it lay three hours away.
We visited Nick at Mimi’s Café where he works for some breakfast at noon before a speed tour of UT. More than anything Austin reminded me of a larger Eugene, in the sense that its culture is largely built around the University. The Longhorns certainly have an unmistakable presence in Austin, it would be a very fun place to go to school. The music is just everywhere. You can’t be that!
On campus we toured the LBJ Library, drove past the stadium and bell tower then popped in to see a Gutenberg Bible (Dakota and I went to Gutenberg while we were in Germany but the museum was closed and we saw no Bible, fail.)
Again, the rain had followed us east. A brief stop at a bookstore became an expensive wait as the rain POURED down. The other customers and employees seemed quite elated. It was a sign that the drought might be finally coming to an end.
Once the rains subsided we scurried to the car and set our course (via my map app) for Houston, Texas! The last piece in our Texan Trifecta.