Last 2017 Travel Blog

North America
June 25th 2017
Published: June 25th 2017
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Welcome to my final blog for 2017, unless I won the $123,000,000 Texas Powerball last night in which case you will receive many more holiday blogs after this one. That reminds me, I should check my numbers today.

Noel and I flew out of LAX very late on the 16th and landed in Austin Texas about 2.30 AM local time. It was really weird walking through a completely empty airport terminal with absolutely no one around, except security, as everyone had pretty much finished work hours before. The couple of guys staying behind to guide the plane to the gate and unload the luggage didn’t look particularly friendly at that time of night.

Austin was awesome mostly because our VRBO hosts were AMAZING. Thank you, Lex and Marilyn, for being so wonderful and for all the tips on what to see and where to go in Austin. We were so happy to get to know you both. If anyone is looking for a great place to stay about a 30 minute WALK from the centre of Austin just give me a call. The studio apartment was great.

We had 3 days in Austin. The first day we slept late, went to a local eatery for brunch, had a wonderful couple of hours chatting with our hosts and drinking their grog (thank you again) and then Lex and Marilyn even drove us into town so we could see a country and western singer called Toni Price at the Continental Club. The place is just as it was in its heyday and Toni was a great singer and had some great musicians backing her.

The next day was pretty jam packed. Started out with a tour of the Austin Capitol building (worth every penny of the free entry) and a walk to the Bullock Museum to see a Stevie Ray Vaughan exhibition and explore the history of Austin and Texas. Next port of call was a bar in West 6th Street called Peche where Noel decided to hook into a few cocktails. When we were leaving we noticed a two man band/singers called “The Texas Two” playing to nobody in the next door garden area. So we decided to stop and have a personal show. They were very good and kept reintroducing themselves using different names, probably to see if we were paying attention. After receiving applause from two crazy Aussies for over half an hour we left the “Texas Two” and moseyed on down to a brilliant Italian restaurant called La Traviata for dinner and then down to Congress Avenue Bridge to watch millions of Mexican Fruit bats fly out from under the bridge, at sunset, to go looking for food. Stop number 7 was The Elephant room where a 13 piece jazz band were setting up. They were also super great but we only stayed for half an hour or so before the last stop of the day back at the sunken outdoor garden where a different group were rocking out lots of 1980’s covers. The place was choc-a-block full so Noel and I decided to stand up on the footpath next to the bouncer. We had THE best view in the place and weren’t squished between hundreds of people. Only drama was that we couldn’t buy a drink to have while watching the group, who were called The Spazmatics. It was a huge, but super good, day. No taxis were around so we started walking. Would you believe, not 1 but 2 busses past us as we were BETWEEN stops. We walked ALL the way home in the middle of the night. Luckily for us it was a balmy 30 degree night, there were no scary parts of town to walk through and the studio was only a half hour walk from the centre of the city.

Day 3 was pretty low key after a tiring day 2. We walked down to Barton Springs natural pools right near downtown and had a sit in the cool water. It was too shallow to swim and some of those river shoes would have been handy, if we had bothered to buy any, as the pathways and the springs themselves were full of rocks, both big and small, which hurt my little tootsies…A LOT! Long walk home in the muggy heat via another spring (which cost too much to enter for just a short stop off so didn’t bother) and went to a great sports bar/restaurant about 100 metres from the studio for dinner. The meals in America are HUGE so top tip of the day is……DON’T order a starter. Just order a main meal. The number of times Noel and I have been caught out with the arrival of complimentary bread and/or salad is ridiculous.

The next morning our host drove Noel downtown to pick up our hire car and we set off for San Antonio via McKinney State Forest (half hour from downtown Austin….seriously) for a swim in the smallish pool at the bottom of a teeny tiny waterfall….just a trickle really. It was freaking me out a bit because there were tiny fish in there and they were biting me. They are like piranhas!!! Well not really but I didn’t like it. It was like underwater bugs on you. YUK! Next stop on the short road trip to San Antonio was a renowned bar-b-que restaurant in Lockhart called Black’s BBQ. Really good food and we got some freebie desserts because Noel and I were the visitors from the furthest place on Earth that day. We beat those Canadians by about 10,000 miles!!!!!

Our accommodation in San Antonio was great being a 5 minute walk from the Riverwalk. Our 2 days here were filled with exploring the Riverwalk on foot and by canal ride, which was great as our boat captain was hilarious. We also drove out to San Jose and Concepcion missions and were lucky enough to be at San Jose when the church bells rang for midday Mass. We decided to go in and say “hello” to God after missing church for the last 7 weeks (I know….we are going to Hell) and it was American Father’s Day here so Noel and all the other dads got a blessing from the priest. He was a bit chuffed.

Now the drive over to Houston was very surprising for us. You know how when you think of Texas you think of flat, endless red dirt??? (well we did anyway). Nope!!! Eastern Texas is GREEN, GREEN, GREEN. Think of Wolli Creek with all those trees, vines and bushes and that is what this area is like. We visted the Waterwall and the Galleria in Houston city. The Galleria is a huge mall that houses only the shops that mega millionaires would frequent. Jimmy Choo, Prada, Tiffany & Co, Rolex etc etc. And it has an ice skating rink inside for all the people who can’t afford to buy anything in the shops.

Next day was NASA Space Centre Houston which was heaps interesting even for a dummy like me. We got to sit in the media/family room behind the “Green” control room made famous in the Tom Hanks movie about the rescue of the Apollo 13 astronauts. There is a huge hangar with the Saturn V rocket that was meant to be used to launch Apollo 18, but the programme was scrapped and it never got used. There is soooo much information and many interactive displays and movies to see here, you really need 2 days to see it all.

And now we have been at our last stop for the past 3 days. We are looking after 3 super pooches for Cathie (aka “Tex”) and her husband Barney while they visit family in Colorado. They are lovely people and have an amazing house about half an hour from a brilliant satellite city called The Woodlands” which is another half an hour out of Houston. Did you know that Houston is the 4th biggest and 4th most populous city in America? Neither did we until I saw it on a sign near the Houston Bush Intercontinental airport when we dropped Cathie and Barney for their flight. We did find out it was massive though when we had to drive from the NASA area to their home in Waller. It took a really long time to get here even with highways that are 6 lanes in EACH direction!!!!!!! Noel and I are taking it pretty easy for this last week. Watching TV (one of Noel’s favourite things), swimming in the huge pool, going out for dinner or lunch (one of my favourite things) and hanging with the doggies. As it is a bit rural here we have bunnies and squirrels on the lawn every day and pretty red Cardinal and Blue Jay (??) birds sitting on the windowsills and in the bushes. It is so peaceful after a hectic 8 weeks on the road. We have 3 days left at Cathie and Barney’s place before heading back to LAX for a day and a half which will give us just enough time to buy the last of our souvenirs (I hope….I hate shopping) and repack our bags for our flight home.

I’m looking forward to seeing you all again soon and to giving my beautiful boys a huge hug and kiss. Warning Gwynne boys….mum is coming home soon. Start CLEANING now!!!!!!

I hope everyone has enjoyed reading my holiday journal/blog. Thank you for taking the time to do that.

Love to y’all. (Just like a Texan would say. J)


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