Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Ringing in a new decade

Once all was revealed about the can’t-believe-we-managed-to-keep-it secret trip, it was time to hit the road.  I’d pre-packed for us while home sick earlier in the week.  So, loading up and hitting the road was surprisingly easy.  The four hours to Austin passed easily enough.  Riley takes road trips so well.  She slept in my lap the whole time.  

The rental house was stunning.  By the end of the trip, we all agreed we could happily live in that space.  It was clean and efficiently laid out while feeling very cozy.  The kitchen was also to die for, as was the view of the creek behind the house.  We took Riley for a walk to get the feel of the neighborhood upon arrival.  There’s a surprising lack of sidewalks in Austin!  I really expected it to be very walker-friendly.  It is….sort of….because people just walk in the streets.  I hate walking in the street.  Oh well.  I guess you do what you have to!  

We ventured out to grab a nibble and made a lucky find: a Flying Saucer!  So, we each had a beer and split an appetizer.  We hadn’t eaten since breakfast, and it was nearly 6pm!  I had a local beer: the Livewire Hefeweisen.  My hubby went for a classic that we both love: Delirium Nocturnum.   For the nibble….brats con queso with tortillas.  It was sinful in every way.

The Bringer of the Fun arrived and we headed out on the town to a recommended eatery: the Iron Cactus in downtown Austin.  I have to admit, the atmosphere was a huge turn off for me.  The place was trying too hard to be hip and cool, or at least that’s how I saw it.  The food was amazing though.  Red-headed bridesmaid had arrived by the time we ordered, so she and I split the roasted chili relleno stuffed with goat cheese, chicken, pepitas, and cranberries.  

We all agreed it was past our bedtimes and turned in immediately.  Sadly, Riley had other plans.  She did not like being away from home.  She had her crate, her bed, and even a frozen carrot, but it wasn’t the same.  She hated being in that room, it seemed.  After two hours of trying to get her to stop crying, I had to take her and her crate to the living room to sleep.  I’ve never seen my husband so close to snapping.  He was exhausted, and I decided it was best to separate them.  I put her crate RIGHT at my head by the couch.  She could see and smell me.  That made her happy enough, and she was sound asleep within 30 seconds.  So, I just stayed out on the couch.  My husband came and got us around 5am, and all of us slept in the bedroom for the first time that night.  

Breakfast was needed to make up for the lack of sleep, so we walked to a nearby café.  I had an interesting-sound dish that sort of fell flat: sweet potato hash.  But the Bringer of the Fun discovered the secret to this little café….the pancakes!  I’ve never had better.  Ever.  So, go to Kerbey Lane Café and order pancakes.  You won’t be sorry.

All four of us decided to go exploring on foot in the early afternoon.  We wondered around the UT campus just as the football game was starting.  We even spotted the band.  It was a nice outing, and Riley really loved smelling everything in sight!  We even got to meet a couple dogs, but one of the flipped out.  The little dog slipped his collar.  The owner threw the other dog’s leash at me to hold, and I missed it.  The leash tore my pinkie nail backward and broke another.  I ended up standing on the leash, nursing a bloody hand.  It was a sign I need to be quicker on my feet….and keep my nails shorter.

The afternoon was passed happily in our rental.  I went out for some snacks and wound up with amazing cookies, hummus, and artichoke dip with pitas all split four ways while playing a board game called Zombies.  You’re supposed to play against each other.  Yeah, we scrapped that and played communally to beat the game, which was far more fun.  

A quick change and we were back downtown.  A friend had told me that he thought we’d like a bar down there called The Ginger Man.  He was right.  The bar was the dark-wood and brass sort with benches and lots of belly-up space.  The draft pulls lined and entire wall.  Such a beautiful sight to me!  Everyone got adventurous and tried new-to-them beers.  The music was varied and low enough to talk without shouting.  The waitress was friendly and quirky.  Yeah, it was truly a wonderful bar.  We stayed four over three hours!  Some local friends met up with us.  That made the evening even more fun.  Finally, the need for food (more than just the liquid sustenance we’d been enjoying) kicked in.  The redhead’s friend recommended an Irish pub called Fado just across the street from The Ginger Man.  Perfection.   My meal was Irish Tex-Mex: a quesadilla with boxty potato pancakes in place of tortillas.  The hubby let me try his fish and chips.  The breading was light without a trace of grease and the fish was clean-tasting and very flaky.  Overall, it was an evening not to be easily topped!  I was so pleased.  And I believe my husband was too.

Sadly, Riley still didn’t like sleeping away from home.  I laid on the floor for at least an hour with my pillow…..rubbing the spot behind her ear that makes her calm down until she was in a deep sleep so that I could get back into the bed.

Sunday morning, more pancakes were required.  I’d only had a bite the morning before.  This time I wanted my own.  I got apple whole wheat.  Redhead got pumpkin. The hubby got buttermilk.  Epic, epic pancakes, all of them!  I need more pancakes like this in my life!

All that was left was to clean up, pack up, and drive home.  All happened just as uneventfully as before.  I’m so glad we took this little vacation.   It was worth all the planning.

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