Her Ladyship

Notes from the gutter.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Keep Austin weird

That apparently is Austin's unofficial (or at least, god, I hope it's not officially-endorsed) motto. We drove up there, braving the traffic, on Saturday. I had been wanting to go to Austin since I moved here, but with it being about a 3 hour voyage round-trip, it just never seemed to be the right time. But Saturday was a beautiful day, perfect for a road trip, and it was a friend's birthday. Well, technically, it was the birthday of a husband of a grad school roommate of one of my college roommates, if that makes sense, and I hadn't actually met either of them, but we'd corresponded via email and this seemed to be a good excuse to go visit. So off The Texan and I went.

Austin is a lot smaller than San Antonio and has an almost bipolar disconnect between its funky college-town vibe and the suits around its Capitol. A lot of the area around the university reminded me a lot of Berkeley. Ah, falafel joints and Urban Outfitters - what would a college town do without you?

We trundled around the Capitol grounds quickly, since they were about to close. Verdict? Beautiful building, reminiscent of most capitol buildings. And that damn lone star was on everything that could be held down and stamped with one.

Outside there was a woman in an antebellum outfit getting her picture taken with her own private cadet honor guard. Still not sure what that was about, but it looked very picturesque, if a bit hot. I am so glad we don't live in a time where we have to wear all that frippery. I love a good belle of the ball dress as much as the next girl, but I would flip if I had to wear all those layers in this heat.

One typically Texan thing on the grounds was a brass plaque dedicated to the West fountain. Which is no longer there, and for which there is no photographic evidence. I was puzzling over the sign, trying to figure out why they would commemorate what in my mind would be a non-issue. Do they also put signs up next to where water fountains used to be? Are there dedications to the hallowed grounds of old bathrooms? What up with that? The Texan took one look and informed me as to the fountain's importance: it was fed by an artesian spring, which, in this neck of the woods, is worth its weight in gold. Fair enough then, I stand corrected.

After, we drove to Lake Austin for dinner. Now, that's the way to have lakes: a less than five-minute drive from downtown. None of this inconvenient hiking or mountaineering or anything like that. We weren't the only ones with this idea and had to wait a while for a table. Luckily, the Hula Hut has quite tasty margaritas and free chips and salsa for those biding their times until a table opens up, so it wasn't that bad a wait at all.

And the birthday boy and his wife were incredibly nice and friendly, so the whole trip worked out quite well.

I still think that commanding others to "Keep Austin weird" seems somewhat contrived: either you're weird naturally or not. That's just me though.


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