We know we’re rather behind, and Angie has a big story to tell about events in the past week, but we are likely to be off the grid for the next couple of days so we want to say hi and get something up, even if it’s a bit out of order.
We spent last night with an old friend in De Soto, just outside Dallas. We had a lovely time catching up, as well as a fantastic dinner that he cooked for us. We’d had a challenging but relatively uneventful couple of days of driving from Palm Harbor (overnight stops in Pensacola, Fl. and Marshall, Tx. and driving through parts of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana before reaching Texas), so it was nice to kick back with a friend. I think the high point of the previous couple of days driving was crossing over the Natchez Trace, where we spent a week earlier this year.
Anyway, we headed out from De Soto early, since we had a tentative plan to meet one of Angie’s cousins for brunch in Austin.
As with so many parts of this trip, things didn’t go quite as planned and we had to adjust our plans on the fly several times. The first problem we encountered was a horrendous traffic jam on I-35. We had stopped at a Buc-ees for gas, and to experience this crazy, huge gas station-cum emporium, with more gas pumps then I’ve ever seen at one station.
This may be the first gas station we’ve been to that has dog clean-up stations.
When we got back in the car, we couldn’t figure out why the GPS had added so much time to our journey and was not directing us back onto the highway. We soon found out: bumper-to-bumper traffic on the highway, that we later discovered was due to a jackknifed semi, which had blocked the highway on both sides. We were trying to find our way to a detour, since Waze was telling us traffic was moving at about 4 mph on the highway, and at that moment, Angie received a call from her cousin telling us that his wife’s flight home from Florida was also delayed. We decided we’d continue to head for downtown Austin, and touch base once cousin Suzy was back in the arms of Matt and the kids. Angie and I discussed, and agreed to shoot for the place where we had originally planned to meet the relatives. We mapped a new route, actually much prettier than I-35 would have been, and eventually reached Austin.
The next change in plans was required when we pulled up at the restaurant (Moonshine) and saw the huge crowd that appeared to be waiting for a table. Not to mention, no evidence of anywhere to park nearby. We immediately decided we were not having brunch there, since it would take forever to get a table and we were too hungry, since it was already gone 1 P.M.
Eight blocks later we were able to pull over safely and park for a few minutes to consider our options. For such a hip town, Austin sure is full of traffic! We decided to head for Whole Foods, not knowing that the chain was founded in Austin, but knowing that they usually have two things we needed: parking, and a dog-friendly patio. We arrived at what turned out to be the flagship store, which was huge, and got some lunch while waiting to hear back from Angie’s cousin Matt.
The store also has bike work stands:
He soon called and we decided to meet at an Amy’s (homegrown Austin ice cream), which Angie had discovered was really close to the Whole Foods! Brilliant! So we met them there and had a lovely but too brief visit. By the way, I broke with my own tradition and had the Kahlua ice cream, which was really good.
Part of the reason for the short visit was because Angie and I needed to get to our hotel in Junction, Texas as well as picking up groceries for the next couple of days from Central Market (recommended by a friend of Angie’s who used to live here).
I’m glad we left Austin early enough to enjoy the drive through the spectacular hill country of the state. If we had known how lovely it is, and that we’d be passing through major Lyndon B. Johnson country (including Johnson City), we might have planned differently. Angie and I have decided this goes on our list for a return visit, preferably with bicycles, since this is prime riding country (no, we didn’t stop at Mellow Johnnys in Austin, since we are Lance Armstrong unfans). We were surprised to see rest stops on this route, and have found the Texas stops to be some of the nicest we’ve seen on our travels, other than some we saw our first time through Mississippi.
We arrived in Junction around 8:15, so we had a late dinner and relaxed with WALL-E before crashing.
One final note for the day, Texas drivers may be worse than Florida drivers, very aggressive and reckless. Florida drivers are just clueless and meek.
Final bonus pix of the day, babies in the swallows’ nest outside our hotel room.