It’s July, and that means it’s time for my annual spiritual pilgrimage back to Austin, Texas. Time to visit friends, have some fun, and generally enjoy being a Big Cheese for a few days.
Kathleen and I flew out of Long Beach early Friday morning. As always, JetBlue was on time. Sadly, the TV on the plane was broken. So we had no entertainment. But that was all right. I can be amused just by looking out the window.
On the way into Austin, we could see Lake Travis out the window. I’d looked it up, and the water level was very low this summer. Something to do with not having had rain for two months. Paolo had said we could come out to his house on Sunday to play in the lake, but that it was now a bit of a hike to get down to the water.
This year, the event was being held in the Airport Hilton, so we didn’t have to really do anything to get there. Just picked up the phone and they sent a van over to the terminal to pick us up. After we got checked in, we headed down to meet up with the group for the opening dinner social at Patsy’s Cowgirl Cafe.
After dinner, we went downtown. The next part of the event was a social at the Chain Drive, but first we went to see the famous Congress Ave bridge bat colony. It was an impressive sight to see so many bats flying out all at once. Then we headed over the place and I got to see some more old friends and schmooze a lot. It was a fun evening.
Saturday was mostly in the hotel. The lobby there was cold like a meat locker. After the daytime activities, we gathered up some of the presenters and all went to dinner at the Catfish Parlour. I finally got my fried okra. When we came out, it was starting to get dark, so they had the giant neon catfish sign turned on. After that, it was time to head out to the big party.
On Sunday morning, the event concluded with a breakfast buffet and keynote talk. The presenter was quite good, and he was very entertaining to listen to. After the talk, we hung around the room until everyone had left. I figured I should enjoy being a Big Cheese for as long as possible. And indeed, when we finally left, I could feel my cheese shrinking back down to its normal size.
Sunday afternoon was the Lake Splash. We headed out to Paolo’s, with a stop at Central Market to get food. And it still pains me to say that I really do wish that we had something like Central Market here in L.A. My hat’s off the the people at HEB for pulling it off. They really did a good job with that place.
The water at Lake Travis was indeed very low. The place where we finally set up our picnic is usually under about 40 feet of water. There were a lot of old drowned tree stumps, and the buoys that usually mark safe boating depth were just lying on the limestone. It was kind of surreal. But the water was still nice. Made the heat almost bearable.
Monday was our visiting day. We checked out and took Capitol Metro into town to meet my old friend Mike for breakfast. Then Stu came and picked us up and we headed out for a day’s worth of playing tourist.
We went to Mellow Johnny’s. I got a new water bottle and a jersey. Then we headed over to the park to see the dinosaur garden. After that, Stu took us out to Elgin for the famous barbecue there. And finally, we went back into town and spent the rest of our afternoon at the Yellow Rose.
The flight home was all right. But the TV was broken again. I checked my pictures, and this was a different plane this time. But it was broken none the less. But the upside is that JetBlue gave us a $15 credit for each TV-less leg of our trip. So we can put that towards our tickets to Chicago this fall when we go there for the
Sears Willis Tower stair climb.
All told, it was a very fun weekend. And yes, my cheese has now returned to its normal size.