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Published: November 29th 2019
November 18 we left Houston for Austin. We had a quick look at another Jeep but again, it didn't meet our expectations. Our drive west to Austin was nice and we passed a lot of large cattle ranches. We were able to get a campground right in Austin. Pecan Grove RV Park on Barton Springs Road. It was just down the street from a large park that included a huge swimming pool made by damming part of Barton Creek which is spring fed. It was one of the coolest pools I have ever seen. I didn't have the camera with me when I walked up there. The bed is nature maintained and they put a concrete deck around it so it has the rectangular feel. It is 1/8th mile long and it's width is at least the length of a competittive pool if not longer. There were people swimming. This park also was linked to a 10 mile walking/bike path that goes along the Colorado River that flows through Austin dividing the North and South ends. The path goes across the river as well. There were paddle boat and pontoon cruises available too.
It was cold and raining our first
full day there but after that it was sunny and high 60s. We walked everywhere we wanted to go. The guy running the campground Bob at first turned me down for a 5 night reservation but he called me right back and said if we didn't mind our first night parking next to the office with just water and electric hook up for a lower price he could accommodate us. He turned out to be a cool dude. He had an Australian accent, he knew the area and recommended places for us to go. I had already done some research and his recommendation for our Friday night was right in line with what I had thought we should do. He also shared that one of Clint Eastwood's sons lives in that campground as well as Mathew McConahey has an AirStream in there. He shared he even talked to Clint one time when he was looking for his son. Most of the RVs there were permanent residents. He said even Willie Nelson was parked in there one time for the Austin City Limits Festival. That would be a fun thing to go back for. That is in the park down the
street. In October I think.
Being in Texas, in a place known for it's music, I had my sights on learning the 2 step. I had googled top music venues in Austin and near the top was Broken Spoke, restaurant and dance hall. Sure enough they have 2 step lessons every night. It was a couple of miles away so we decided to head there late afternoon and have supper listening to the free band and then do the dance lesson. We finished eating with an hour and a half to wait for the lesson so I suggested to Mike that we could just forget about it and move on. He reassured me it was fine to wait and we should since I wanted to learn how to do this dance. So we stayed and we were so happy we did! Behind the wall of the booth we were sitting in was a room full of photos of the owner of the Broken Spoke with many country music legends. Willie Nelson as a young fella and in current times, Kris Kristofferson, Garth Brooks, George Strait, George Jones, Bob Wills, Dolly Parton, and so many others. He had some hats,
guitars. We met the owner James White and shook his hand a few times. I kept thinking of the artists I just mentioned also shaking his hand! He took a picture with me and we bought a book that was written about his life and Broken Spoke. He autographed it for us. HIs wife still works there behind the bar and their daughter was the one teaching the dance lesson. He built the place in 1964. Just like when we visited the Blue Ridge Music Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway, having seen the country music history documentary on PBS this fall really brought more meaning to this experience.
We took the dance lesson and being a Thursday night, as I had hoped it wasn't too busy there so we were able to dance the 2 step without getting run over by experienced dancers. Mike was a great sport, dancing is not his thing, but he does it for me because I love it so much. He kept me on cue pretty well because I kept losing my count and we'd start over. It was really a lot of fun! My good friend Lisa Sutherland knew all about this
place and James White when I told her about it as she had seen a documentary on PBS about his place and actually has a trip already planned to visit in April. I know she is going to absolutely LOVE it as she is a country music aficionado, I'm just a "newbie" she's been listening all her life😊
Friday night I thought we should go to Saxon Pub and listen to a blues guitarist who plays a free show every Friday night 6-8, Denny Freeman. This was the place and artist our campground host Bob recommended. He told us that Denny played at one time with Bob Dylan. That was a clincher for Mike, he loves Bob Dylan. Denny plays awesome and his band was great. HIs drummer was the primary singer and the best way to describe him is he was a real "cool cat". They played blues/swing type music very fast paced. There was hardly any room in there and people were dancing in every possible open space. It was clear most of the people there were regulars. We were lucky to have the heads up to get there early to get a seat. I danced in
my seat so much that the next day I noticed my abs were really sore..it has to be from that. The couple at the table in front of us, the guy, he reminded me of my mom with that genre of music. He could not sit still! If his wife needed a break, he tried to sit but before half the song was over he was up asking someone else to dance. When it was over, I said to him, "you don't listen to that music when you're driving do you?" He laughed and said, "no, I'd probably go off the road though if I did huh?" His wife told me they are from Nova Scotia but because of the music, they now live part of the year in Austin. Before we got our seats at Saxon, we ate at a Tex-Mex place next door called Maudies. Bob recommended it and it was delicious!
Saturday we walked across the bridge to the North side. We learned 6th street is like the "bourbon street" of New Orleans and the Rainey Street area is where the locals like to go. We tried to eat at Rainey another of Bobs recommendations but
by the time we got there it was packed and would have been an hour wait. We had been walking for hours by then so we moved on to getting something sooner than that. We found a spot down the street playing reggae music at an outside garden type place and had a snack. We walked about 6 miles that day up through the state capital area which had a nice park and some statues memorializing some of the history of the area. We went into the capital building too. The architecture in there was amazing. We walked by some nice bars, restaurants, hotels, and theaters. The walk along water was really nice too.
We just loved our time in Austin. There were people walking, biking, and running everywhere. They also had electric scooters you could rent that people also were using to get around. We thought Sam and Ben would be all over trying that!. We saw some birds and turtles in the water. It just felt like a vibrant place to be active, enjoy good food and music. There was always something going on.
Sunday we hung out at the site as we were waiting for
the electrical part we needed but even then we had a free concert as there was a restaurant next door and they had a jazz band for brunch/lunch. Finally the part arrived, we enjoyed an afternoon of football, and my friend Lisa gave me a call. It was awesome to catch up with her and share our time in Austin as I know she is going to love it just as much!
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