Austin, TX: Feb 19 – 24, 2017

After a short visit in Houston we headed off to Austin. We left mid-morning for the 3.5 hr drive. Since we were on the road during lunchtime I started looking at Google Maps for an interesting place to stop at for a bite to eat. I discovered that just up ahead was a place called Hruska’s: http://www.hruskas-bakery.com/ . This Deli / Restaurant / General Store was established back in 1912. I figured that any such place that has lasted over 100 years in a very small town must be good. Their specialty is a dessert called Kolache. Essentially, it was a divine sweet tasting roll with fruit filling in the middle; a donut-want-a-be? They also have rolls stuffed with sausages, cheeses, and other such things. They are known for their burgers, so not knowing much about their other specialties we went with that. They were very good. Before we left though we stocked up on a few of the sweets and stuffed rolls for future meals. Everything was good, but not something we could eat very often.

Once we arrived in Austin, at the McKinney Falls State Park, we set up the RV and headed out for a bike ride around the campground. They have a 2.8 mile loop which travels along a creek. The campground is a wonderful resort just 15 minutes from downtown Austin. We had a very large and private lot, surrounded by nature. After our bike ride we hunkered down in the RV, as a storm was expected before to long.

The storm did not arrive until midnight and it came with a vengeance. We woke up to the RV swaying, which is saying a lot for a 20-ton vehicle! The phone was hollering with Severe Weather and Tornado Warnings. The rain was pounding the RV and the skies appeared bright with so much lightening going on. It was our first, and I hope our last, such storm in the RV. I actually got up and got dressed in case we got blown away. I wanted to look decent in such an event. The storm raged for nearly 4 hours. In the morning we learned that a couple tornadoes did touch down less than 5-10 miles from us. We felt fortunate to have gotten through it unscathed.

Since we had been up nearly all night with the storm we were pretty lazy in the morning. In the afternoon we went to a hip coffee shop to enjoy some Java and Wi-Fi.

On the way back we checked out the SoCo (South Congress) district. This is an area of trendy shops, artisan crafts, art galleries and local restaurants. We enjoyed a stroll up and down the streets window-shopping. Charlie enjoyed some Nitrogen Ice Cream.

The Continental in SoCo is a retro bar featuring a variety of bands. We stopped by to check out the music. We loved the environment and vibe, but the music was far too loud and not quite the type we enjoy.

The next day, back at the campground, we were hoping to hike a few more trails. However, in order to access the trails you have to cross the river and with all of the recent rainfall the river was raging. There was no way to cross it. So we went golfing instead. It was a beautiful day and the course was just down the street.

We had read about a couple of interesting towns an hour and a half away so we took a day trip. As we drove towards Luckenbach and Fredericksburg we passed the Lyndon B Johnson Estate. We  took a tour of the “Texas White House.” I recommend it if you are ever in the area.

We also passed a large number of wineries along Rt 290. Little did we know that we were on the Texas Hill Country Trail, touted as the #2 wine destination in America. Unfortunately, we were not able to enjoy them since we had a lot of driving to do. Maybe next time.

We stopped in Luckenbach, a ghost-town like community with a population of 3. In 1970 a rancher and Texas folklorist bought Luckenbach for $30,000. This enabled him to govern the dance hall as he saw fit. There are only 2 buildings in the town. One is the dance hall. The other, remnants of an old post office, serves as a working saloon and general store. After a 10-minute walk around the area we got back in the car and continued our journey to Fredericksburg.

Fredericksburg is on the National Register of Historic Places in Texas. It was founded in 1846 and populated primarily by German descendants. We didn’t have a lot of time for our visit. If we had more time we would have visited the National Museum of the Pacific War. It is located in Fredericksburg in honor of Admiral Nimitz’s birthplace.

For our last day in Austin we toured the downtown area. We found a brand new YETI corporate store. We just had to stop by and check it out. It’s a very hip store. They have a bar, with YETI coolers for seats, a stage where bands play on weekends and an area where you can customize your new YETI cooler.

After drooling over YETI products, and playing with bears, we crossed the river into the city. We took a tour of the State’s Capitol building. It is a beautiful castle like building. There is an interesting story about the exterior. The designers had planned to clad it with limestone. They procured the necessary quantities only to discover that the high iron content of the limestone led it to rapidly discolor with rust stains when exposed to the elements. Fortunately, the owners of a nearby granite mountain offered to donate, free of charge, the necessary amount of sunset red granite as an alternative. The original limestone was used for much of the interior structure.

In the early 90s they expanded the capitol building by adding 4 extra stories. Since they did not want to change the way the building looked they added all of the extra stories below ground. It is pretty phenomenal. This being Texas, they had to have the largest US capitol building.

We indulged at Frank’s for lunch. They offer very unique, and fabulous tasting, hot dogs. I enjoyed a FICO ANATRA: custom-made duck and pork sausage dressed with fig Mostarda, crispy shallots and goat cheese. It was divine!   http://www.hotdogscoldbeer.com/austin/eats/

Here are a few more pictures from the McKinney Falls State Park. As you can see, the bluebonnets were starting to bloom and the deer were excited to graze around them.

Our next destination is San Antonio.

 

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