Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Austin: Day 3

Day 3 began and ended with potential disasters. 

The first: On Monday morning, we woke up to find we were out of diapers. I don't know how it happened, honestly, because I'm usually on it, but it happened. 

At first, I was pretty lackadaisical  about it, because we were in a city and there were, like, three grocery stores within a five minute radius of us. Here's the thing though: We were, apparently, staying in the hipster heart of Austin, where the grocery stores carry things like kombucha and fancy cheese and all manner of pet care products - but absolutely nothing in the way of baby junk. After a thorough search, we began to worry that babies don't exist in Austin, that maybe baby making and growing is outsourced to, I don't know, Houston or someplace. 

We finally asked at the front desk of our hotel, where we found out we'd have to walk alllllll the way to the very south end of South Congress before we would find the kind of grocery store that carries normal grocery store things. In Las Vegas, I'd bought diapers in the CVS right next to our hotel. Isn't it weird that it's easier to find diapers in Vegas than Austin? Maybe it's not weird. I don't know. 

The walk took us about an hour, I think, and the disaster ended up not being a disaster. Thank goodness. I was actually starting to worry we'd have to potty train that kid on the spot. 

(I know, we probably could've taken a bus but, like I said before, South Congress is a really nice street and where's your sense of adventure? Besides, we were watching the weather app like crazy and it said that it was -40 with the windchill back home, where we'd be heading the very next day, and Texas was a balmy 19. You don't pass up a walk when you have a chance to breathe outside air without fear of frostbite for one more day.)

Crisis averted. And! We found a really amazing little place to eat breakfast: the South Congress Cafe. It has its own busker, and the most amazing steak and eggs benedict thing I've ever experienced in all of my life. I was introduced to Migas there too, and breakfast will never be the same. Plus, our waitress was a complete peach. 

(Sometimes you get a waitress so great that you kind of want to throw your tip in the air so it flutters down around her celebratorily as she walks up to the table. Dear SoCo Cafe: Give that Jenny girl a raise.)

We spent the rest of the morning 'shopping' on South Congress, in and out of all these crazy little stores and art galleries. A favourite was a place called Uncommon Objects, which I can't explain any better than its name does. It was right next to a sweet little art store called Yard Dog - you'd love both places, I think. Knowing you.

There was a music club that elicited a dramatic sigh (not really, but I sensed it) from Barclay every time we walked past it. It was the Continental, and he seemed very drawn to it and kept saying that he wished we could go into it (the shows would've been too late at night for Sullivan, of course). We talked to a guy in the airport later who said that Robert Plant frequents that place and has even been known to do a little karaoke there. So, you know. I guess Barclay has a sixth sense for these kinds of things.

Seeing Robert Plant sing karaoke would've definitely been the highlight of the trip, had we been lucky enough to stumble across that. Rats, hey?

(Side-story about that guy in the airport: When he found out we were Canadian, he said, "Oh! I have a couple of good old Canadian friends! We golf together. You've probably heard of them; I think they're kind of well known in Canada - Wayne Gretzky and Alan Thicke?" He talked about them for a little bit - not in a name-droppy way, just in an old-friend way - and then we all boarded our plane to LA and that was that. And when we deplaned a few hours later, Alan Thicke was trending all over Twitter because he'd died while we were in the air. I thought about how strange it must be to be friends with a celebrity and to possibly find out about their death from the Internet as your plane is coasting to the gate. Sad.)

We got coffees from Apanas again and took the bridge back across the lake and to our hotel, stopping a few times so Sullivan could throw rocks in the water. Mornings like that are what vacation is all about, I think.

After Sullivan's nap: tacos again. A Rainey Street food truck, again. And then the three of us split a Mexican Coke and walked downtown to jump on the monorail in search of a particular music store.

Cue Disaster 2.

The guitar store was so far north as to be seemingly out of the city. We rode the monorail for over an hour until the buildings around us turned into trees and country-side. And then a kind woman leaned over to Barclay and asked him if he knew the monorail would not be returning back downtown that night.

Wait. What?

It was 4 something in the afternoon, not exactly evening. There was no schedule posted anywhere, no notice of the service being discontinued. She told us that they sometimes made announcements so out-of-towners like us wouldn't be stranded in the middle of nowhere when the train stopped at the end of the line until the next morning, but that day, they didn't bother.

Thankfully, the woman, who was on her way home from work, gave us a bus map (we didn't have data on our cell phones, even) and told us how to get to a bus stop, and that the next bus would be leaving in a few minutes and then there wouldn't be another along for an hour and that one would be our last chance. If it wasn't for her, we would've just been...stuck, I guess. What a strange city you are, Austin. We saw her help out a few other people in our exact situation. No one really expects the monorail to call it quits at 4:30 pm, do they?

So we didn't make it to the music store, which was sad, but we did make it back to our neck of the woods, which was relieving. Disaster 2 averted. Sort of. I mean, we spent quite a bit of time on public transit for no good reason, but hey. We'd had a good long walk that morning to make up for it.

And when we made it back downtown, we had the most Texan dining experience possible: Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken. It was a place we'd walked past earlier, and when I peeked in the window I was like, "Well, obviously we have to eat there at some point." Checkered tablecloths, mac'n cheese in styrofoam containers, big hunks of crispy chicken, deep-fried pickles...? It felt right.

We flew out the next morning, made it home by midnight.

Austin: 10/10, would go again. But would try a lot harder to run into Robert Plant next time.