Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Just Back from a Weekend in Austin

We flew out to Austin last Thursday to spend a little time with some friends and hang out doing Austin things. Cynthia and Bill have a great house in Lost Creek and since the temperature in DC was hovering in the 40's, it was great to be in the 80's for a few days.

We had a leisurely breakfast on Friday, then took a walk on the Town Lake Hike and Bike trail, doing the loop from MoPac to the Lamar Foot Bridge. We were amazed at all the changes in the downtown skyline and all the new residential construction downtown. At least the trail was still more or less the same. After the walk we had a late lunch at Magnolia Cafe on Lake Austin Blvd. I had a heaping bowl of black beans with avocado and pico de gallo and a cornbread pancake on the side. Great Austin comfort food.

Friday evening we drove down to South Lamar for the Happy Hour/Dinner at Maria's Taco Xpress. An old acquaintance of mine, Leeann Atherton, was performing there outdoors on the deck with a band. She was singing and playing guitar, with Juliann Banks on bass, Sonny Coleman on lead guitar and Bill the Buddha on drums. They played a mix of covers and original tunes, mostly high energy rock and blues. Leeann can belt it out with the best of them and she did a fine Janis impression on Piece of my Heart. After the show we drove up Lamar to a "new" place, a Greek wine/beer bar called Opa's in an Old House with a great patio area in front underneath a pair of gorgeous Live Oak trees. That was a great finish to the evening.

On Saturday, we drove over to Manchaca & Stassney and had breakfast at the Bakehouse. Cynthia told a funny story about a column that John Kelso had written about them and calling them out for their pretentions at trying to be an "International" restaurant in South Austin. They have pictures of International destinations on the walls and lamp covers in the booths which are globe maps.

After breakfast, Laura and I drove around a bit, taking William Cannon over to 290 near where we used to live and then took 290 up to MoPac and drove around downtown, mostly taking 5th Street east past I-35 and then 6th Street back across town. We stopped at Waterloo Records and I looked around, while Laura did a little shopping at Chico's. Then we drove across the river and stopped for a couple of drinks at Chuy's on Barton Springs. Inevitably, we talked about our own retirement plans and how maybe we ought to put Austin on our short list. The major drawback is whether we could handle the summer heat again.

That night we had a belated "Retirement" Party for Cynthia at their place. A lot of good friends were there: Mita, Cindy & Gemma, Anne & Dan, our friend Danielle, and a couple of others. There were fresh squeezed lime Margaritas; chicken, beef, and pork margaritas with lots of fixins; plenty of beer and wine; and, ice cream to top it off. Definitely off our diets. I played a few songs as the night wound down.

Sunday, Bill and I drove out near Bee Caves and played golf at Falconhead Golf Course. It was overcast and much cooler, which was good for the golf. The round started out pretty well, but unravelled a bit as it went on, but it was a pleasant way to spend the afternoon. That night we drove down to the Saxon Pub to hear the Resentments. Laura and I hadn't heard them since 2008, so we hadn't seen them since Stephen Bruton died. John Dee Graham had also gone his own way, so, for us at least, it was a fairly new lineup. You had Bruce Hughes on Bass, Jud Newcomb on electric and acoustic guitars, Miles Zuniga on acoustic guitar, Jeff Plankenhorn on pedal steel, mandolin, and guitar and Johnny Morocco on Drums. I think that Jeff might have been with them the last time we saw them, but he was more just a backup player at that point. This time he was a full member of the ensemble and some of his songs were among the highlights of the evening. They are really fantastic and have great energy. They mix country, folk, blues, rock and even a little jazz (mostly Bruce Hughes on the jazz). A great evening and a great end to the weekend.

Monday we were up early to catch a flight back to DC and our lingering cold spell. Too bad we couldn't just quit our jobs and move back...

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