Saturday, February 14, 2015

4 Days in Austin, Texas, YEEHAW!

When escaping winter, does it really matter where you go?  It's not as if Ashley and I needed an excuse to escape the brutal wind chills of Wisconsin.  It helps that it was her birthday, and we were longing to see a good friend.

Time to pack our bags, grab our finest boots, and head to Austin, Texas for 4 days and 3 nights of adventure!

When traveling it always helps to be shown around by a local.

And when it comes to local hosts, I'm not sure you can top the work of Sophia Beausoleil.

From beer, to popcorn, shot glasses to pretzels, this thing was insane.

 Our hotel was at the AT&T conference center which happened to be right on UT's campus.

And after drinking some tequila from the basket we were whisked away to "dirty 6th" street.

First stop, something not very dirty,  Parkside Austin.

If you ever go get the sweetbread croquettes or the mac and cheese.  Of course, Sophia went above and beyond and brought a cake for Ashley.

Next stop, was an attempt to get into a speak easy next door.  After buzzing a random apartment at a non descriptive door...

A man opened to tell us they did not have enough room for us inside.  More on this later.

Undeterred, we headed to Sophia's favorite and my soon to be favorite 6th street watering hole---- the Handle Bar.

Of course, Sohpia knew every bar tender.  I was shown the world's first "Bitcoin ATM."

That's good, cause I had no idea how to unload my internet wealth.

The highlight is their seesaw upstairs.

After meeting up with some of Sohpia's peeps, we headed into the heart of "dirty 6th."

I was told you "have to experience the "dirty" once.  And that probably was enough for me.

  I felt too old for the hoards of drunken college age party goers cramming into bars to grind up on strangers.

I did get constant reminders I was in the state of Texas...

The rest of the night was spent bar hopping.

 My phone was on little juice, and before dying for the night, it captured one late night request for Tacos by Yaser.

Exhausted, and with an inevitable hangover on the way, night one was over.


Austin is beautiful.  The weather is beautiful.  The people who've moved from around the country to this exploding city are beautiful.  The food is beautiful, and on a morning walk, Ashley and I found the UT campus was pretty nice as well.

I did some horse back riding.

And learned the local finger pointing thing.

Oh did I mention the weather is beautiful?  A perfect day for BBQ and wine!

Sophia picked us up and we were off into Texas Hill Country.  Our stop--- heaven.

May I introduce The Salt Lick.

The wait to enjoy some of the best BBQ I've ever had in my life, was about an hour.  To kill time we hit of the attached wine tasting room and bocce ball.

Then it was time to eat.

Sophia drove us up the road to a second winery for an awesome sunset.

When at first you don't succeed, try, try again.  We headed back to the speakeasy on 6th Midnight Cowboy were rejected at the night before.

  RESERVATIONS ARE REQUIRED.  Luckily we had one.

I can not tell you what my drinks were because they were so fancy I had never heard of any of the ingredients before.  The place is so secretive we did not take photos.  but we did grab a photo that still is illuminated in the back that marks its seedy history as a "rub and tug (as the bartender put it).

Drinks were followed by ghosts.  Turns out Austin is overrun by the super natural.

Inside the fancy Driskill Hotel you can ask the front desk for a "ghost guide" of the undead that roam their halls.  Of course Sophia and Yaser did.

The night ended by meeting more of Sophia's friends.  Pooped, we called it a night.


Has it only been 2 days?  Seriously?  That means it's been two days I haven't been in a newsroom.  Time to change that.

Sohpia is not just one of the best hosts of all time, she is also a rockstar reporter at NBC affiliate KXAN!  We got a behind the scenes look where we got to see the assignment desk.

Her newsroom.

The studio.

And fun coworkers!

The tour of the station was followed by more of Austin, like the natural year round swimming pool of Barton Springs Pool

Then over to West Congress Avenue.

Austin rule, if there is a line for food, stand in it!

Like the one outside Hododdy Burger Bar.

The wait, of course was worth it.

Top 5 greatest burgers I've ever had in my life.
Eating some good old fashioned American meat really started to make me fell like a Texan!
All I needed, was to look the part.

I probably could spend hours in Allen's Boots playing dress up.  Problem is I can't afford the boots on my feet.

So we headed to the best deal in town... the rowing dock!

For $10 you get a kayak to jump in the Colorado River.

Our trip included turtle sightings and mansions, both of which I am a fan of.

For a pre dinner adventure we traveled to Rainey Street, a marvelous place where houses have been turned into bars like Craft Pride which serves a GAZILLION Texas beers.

I'll skip ahead a bit, and leave out some details, but somehow we ended up at a random Pre-Inauguration party at Austin City Limits

We even got a surprise visit from Governor elect Greg Abbott.

I even showed up in THIS TWITTER PICTURE

Day 4

With time winding down before Ashley and I flight back to the frozen tundra, we made a quick pit stop at the Inauguration.

We even saw some of our friends we met working hard!

If you've made it this far and feel exghausted by this blog entry, then you kind of know how Ashley and I felt on our way back.  STUFF, SATISFIED, AND LOVING AUSTIN.

Thank you Sophia and Yaser for cramming in so much.  I feel like we just hit the surface, and the next time we come back I have a feeling this bustling city will look completely different.