Sunday, January 29, 2006

Tour of Austin, travelogue part 1

Whenever there is a first time visitor to Austin, it's pretty obvious where to take them -- the standard sights to see. But what does one do with visitors who have been here several times over the past half dozen years? Such is the quandary we face with the visit of Doug's parents this weekend, who came down to see him and escape the northern Missouri winter.

They arrived Thursday night. Since it was Thursday, it was brew night and they got to experience Doug and Robert brewing beer. They have been to Austin enough that they went to some of the their favorite places (like Book People) on Friday while we were at work, and on Friday night we took his folks out to dinner and to catch the Austin Wranglers.

But what to do for Saturday, something his folks hadn't done before? We decided to start the day with breakfast at Maria's Taco Xpress on South Lamar. We really didn't want a heavy breakfast, so we figured breakfast tacos would hit the spot. I'm almost embarrassed to admit that in the six years Doug and I have lived here, we haven't once frequented this Austin landmark. After all, we live in the northern suburbs and that's quite a drive just to get breakfast tacos. Let's face it, there is basically a place on every corner in town to get breakfast tacos, so why drive? But this restaurant was featured on Rachel Ray's $40 a Day and we thought his parents would get a kick out of it. Ends up that the drive was well worth it -- the migas breakfast tacos were outstanding. Doug said that if Maria ever opened up north, he would be there every weekend. Alas, the funkiness of the place can only exist in South Austin.

We had planned to go to the Sunset Valley Farmer's Market after breakfast, but the much-needed rain put a crimp in those plans. Instead we headed out towards Johnson City and visited one of our favorite Texas wineries, Texas Hills Vineyard. I think they have one of the pretties tasting rooms around. We sampled a variety of wines and Jim & Barb and Doug & I both bought a couple of bottles.

Leaving Texas Hills, we continued north on Hwy. 281 to Hwy. 29. We decided we would take Doug's parents to the see the eagles. While they said that they have eagles in Missouri, once we got to the nest, they were impressed. We were able to spot all three adults. We still haven't seen the eaglets, but maybe that is an excuse for Doug and I to make another trip in a few weeks.

Since it was lunchtime, we headed on in to Llano and to Coopers barbecue. This was the first time we've been there that there wasn't a line around the building. I guess the rain kept the bikers away. Doug's parents were very impressed with Coopers, but like our last visit, Doug and I weren't "wowed."

Doug's parents were getting a bit tired, so we headed home, taking the scenic route of FM 1431 past Inks Lake and Lake LBJ. Doug and I still say we can see his parents becoming snowbirds and getting a place on the Highland Lakes so his dad could spend all winter fishing.

We let his folks rest up for a few hours and then took them to an Austin Ice Bats hockey game. The minor league team was playing the Oklahoma City Blazers. What was interesting is that they were calling it the "Red River Shoot Out" and the Bats were wearing Longhorn jerseys and OKC was wearing OU jerseys. It actually was a bit confusing as I wanted to yell out "Go Horns!" instead of "Go Bats!"

The game was pretty exciting and we had fun. There were a couple of fights, with one of the OKC players clocking one of the Bats in the face with his stick. The game ended in a tie. When this happens in minor league hockey, it goes into a five minute overtime period. This too ended in a tie. Next step -- a shoot off. This is where five players from each team get to shoot for a goal. At this point, it's only the player against the goalie. The team that shoots the most goals wins the game. The tension builds with every shot, but the Ice Bats pulled it through to win the game.

Today we have another full day planned, complete with brunch at one of our favorite places and a play at the Zach Scott. The travelogue will continue later.

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