Sunday, July 15, 2007

Austin -- Part 1

Hey, have I told you about my Austin trip yet? No? Well why don't I do that now?

Monday, July 3, I flew into Austin to visit my friend Forrest and check out for the first time the city I've been planning on moving to. I won't keep you in suspense: I loved it, and can't wait to move. Hopefully by October, if all goes as planned (which, I've found, it rarely does).

The weather was humid, but not nearly as bad as I'd been preparing for; the Fourth of July I spent in St. Louis a few years ago was ten times worse. Normally, during this time of year, Austin would be experiencing many days of 100+ degree weather; this year, it was cloudy and gloomy, with frequent thunderstorms, just about the whole time I was there. You may have heard something about the rain -- about northeast Texas being pretty much underwater for a couple of weeks. Austin was on the fringes of that. We got plenty of rain, and even some flooding, but not the "disaster area" rain going on just to the north, thankfully.

So it was only in the mid-80s, most of the time. Even when it rained. That was fine by me.

After stopping at Forrest's place to drop off my baggage (and have a couple of Lone Stars, of course), the first site we visited was the Texas Chili Parlor, one of several Austin landmarks featured in Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof.

Don't you feel more like you do now than when you came?

I had the chili cheese dog (with mild chili, because I'm a wimp), which comes with either a side of fries, or Fritos. I had the Fritos. Why not?

Where's Jungle Julia?

They don't serve Lone Star there, so I had to settle for a Jack & Coke. Shucks!

Oh, there she is.

It was a damn fine start to my Austin education.

Next up: the Mellow Mushroom, at which Forrest is a manager, bartender, and runs the weekly trivia game. Sadly, he had to work there that night, but I had a fun time hanging out there with him, meeting many of the cool, fun employees, and immediately forgetting their names. (Sorry, guys. Nothing personal. I do that with everybody.) Check out the website, which appears to have been created by the people behind Homestar Runner.

Wanna play some Jarts?

The site's even got a cast page (that's Dude and Mel, above), and cartoons! Well, one cartoon, so far. According to an envelope seen in the cartoon, Mel and Dude live at "420 Shroom St." That's hitting the drug references pretty hard, right there.

Check out the Longhorns T-shirts Dude and Mel are wearing. Hook 'em Horns!

The Mushroom's bar has 25 beers on tap. Very nice! And one of them is my favorite: Pyramid's Apricot Ale (or, as it's been renamed, Pyramid's Apricot Weizen; the hell with that, I still call it the Apricot Ale). They put this beer on tap the very day I arrived in town. Forrest handles the beer orders for the restaurant, and knew what I'd like. My boy is looking out for me! I thanked him by having about eight pints.

Free Willie!

Here's a shot from my camera phone. For most of my time in Austin, I would completely forget I had a phone, let alone one with a camera, so I took very few pictures. This fella on the waterfall is supposed to be Willie Nelson. Why Willie Nelson is kayaking down a waterfall in a restaurant, I have no idea.

After Forrest's shift, he and I and another Mushroom employee, Memphis Brian (there are three Brians, so they all have nicknames), drove down to check out the bar scene. We wound up at The Ginger Man on 4th St.

Named after the J.P. Donleavy book. Look it up -- I had to!

It's an excellent bar in what I believe is called the Warehouse District. It's very near the infamous 6th Street, which is legendary for its many bars and drunken debaucheries. I actually never did visit 6th St. while I was in town, and from what I hear, I didn't miss much. Fucked-up college kids looking for fights isn't quite my speed these days. I prefer a quieter, friendlier crowd. And a nicer beer selection -- the Ginger Man's got over eighty beers on tap. Very nice!

I had one of each.

The inside was very inviting, with little nooks with couches and shelves of books and whatnot, but it was crowded, so we stepped out to the beer garden out back, and had a pint under the stars. It was a lovely evening, and a fine wrap-up to my first day in Austin.

This Austin recap is already getting out of hand. It's all those pictures taking up space! But pictures are pretty.

So -- that's enough for one post. Up next -- my Fourth of July in Austin. It didn't go quite the way I was expecting, but it was still a hell of a lot of fun.

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