Texas

Austin in Winter

Austin had been great to me when I visited in winter 2015. Heading back in January 2018, I knew I would find plenty to do and see. Good yoga to be had for sure. There was an ominous icy forecast for my second day in town, but I stupidly took a believe it when I see it approach.

 

It was partly cloudy and warming quickly towards 70 degrees when I pulled in on the bus from Houston. Not the most scenic of Austin arrival points north of town:

Austin bus station

For such a large city, Austin is decidedly low slung and sprawling. Mostly one-story buildings spreading out for miles all around the built up central downtown and university district.

As I headed down the far reaches of Airport Boulevard, I started to encounter some vintage, quirky businesses. Austin prides itself on staying unique:

Haven't seen a VCR in 20 years

Architecture of an even older vintage as I closed in on downtown:

32nd & Duval

I carried on into University of Texas territory:

Looking down Dean Keeton St

The grounds of the state capital fell into my path next:

Tribute to Texas School Children

As I continued south towards the Colorado River which cuts thru the middle of Austin, some towering new construction came into view. Austin has been swelling rapidly with an influx of new residents for years.

Austin going vertical

I was walking around in delightful 70 degree winter weather, expecting to hear from my pal Jacquelynn any minute who was due to host me. She teaches yoga in Austin and is just a wonderful presence who I know from back when we both lived in Portland, Maine.

I did soon hear from Jacq...and she had come down with a virus! The perils of January travel; I missed seeing a few family members at my Houston wedding due to the flu as well.

No need to panic though Austin has an abundance of Airbnb options. I quickly found an affordable alternative spot to sleep. I crossed over the Colorado River with a new target address for the night.

View east from the Pfluger Pedestrian Bridge

More one-story adorableness ensued:

As darkness took hold I had reached bustling South Congress Avenue:

South Congress scene

So much to see and eat in this part of town. I got some delicious pizza at Home Slice Pizza and then peaked in on the live music at The Continental Club just down the block:

The Continental Club, opened in 1955

I joined the pack of people lining up outside Army's Ice Creams just a few storefronts away. One of the dudes working was flipping scoops into cones behind his back!

I'd thoroughly stuffed myself, so it was time to convalesce in a bed. My spot for the night nearby:

My room

I got to bed early, but in the middle of night I awoke to rain and wind smacking the window. By sunrise, a cold front had completed its arrival. It was 25 degrees and sleeting! 

I was not about to spend the day huddled in a small bedroom. I layered up and prepared to brave the cold, damp day. I had plenty of stuff to layer on top; basically just put almost all 4 of my shirts on. I had wool pants with me that I brought for the Houston wedding so warm legs were assured. And I'm all about Darn Tough merino wool socks, so my feet would be toasty. The problem would be covering my precious head and hands...I had left my gloves and hat by the Buffalo Bayou in Houston.

No problem. My neck warmer became an ear warmer and I had a hood on my jacket. And for my hands....socks!

Socks on my hands!

I was feeling inspired as I walked along on ice-glazed streets in the freezing rain:

Skating along deserted streets

My ingenuity was working out. Hands were staying plenty warm. As I strode along surprisingly relaxed past closed business after closed business, it became apparent that I would have to entertain myself for the day.

Everything shutdown with the weather

I journeyed back into downtown finding even more businesses closed. Walked past one very trippy sculpture by Ai Weiwei:

Forever Bicycles by Ai Weiwei

It was while wandering the quiet and cold streets of downtown when a beat dropped in my head. A beat to a rap song....that just suddenly spewed out of my mouth. I give you a Berndog original:

I carried on rapping for about a mile. Then carried on smiling as I swept down Lamar Boulevard. Sweet bus stops along the way, but not a bus to be seen on the slick, deserted road. The only things operational seemed to be a few yoga studios, movie theaters and some restaurants. That was plenty to keep me happy.

Some new development along Lamar with artful touches:

Bike racks?

My destination was Sukha Yoga for a late afternoon class. Unfortunately my friend Jacq was not able to teach with her illness, but the owners Mark & Erinn are lovely people so I knew I'd be in good hands.

Class was packed. Good joyful energy in the room. Many people seemed to have been enjoying a day off work or school.

Yoga spot

For the rest of my day, I'd plotted seeing a film. Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is tucked away among a large complex of apartments up Lamar from Sukha:

Film time

I saw Call Me By Your Name which was brilliant. The lobby had another film advertised beautifully:

Inside Alamo Drafthouse

Back out onto empty sidewalks I entertained myself with glowing light:

Unfortunately closed

The neon lifted my spirits:

And more happy glows inside Bouldin Creek Cafe where I stopped for dinner:

Delicious Bouldin Creek Cafe

I had to dismiss the affections of a kitty beneath my door to get to sleep:

Cat Paw Under Door

A quiet departure from the Airbnb on my last morning:

The sun came back! Temp was in the 40's too as I headed out on my walk to the bus station:

Back doors along South Congress had some character:

Some high-end food items:

Trendy businesses died off as I got farther south

And the death of all ambience when I had to cross over and then walk along highway 290:

Car fumes

And just what brought me down into this ugly landscape you ask? Well, I waited too late to book my Greyhound ticket out of town (only one bus per day down to San Marcos and it sold out). At first I thought I had totally screwed myself, but turns out there's another bus company in town.

Tornado Bus to the rescue. Unfortunately they are pricey as hell costing 3 times more than Greyhound. But the staff at the station were so kind...plus free snacks and coffee!

Ate all the animal crackers

The bus was an hour late. I made use of the time researching my next stop in San Marcos while Mexican soap operas blared on the television:

Tornado Bus lounge

I made the best of my short stint in Austin. The ice storm had closed the Bullock Museum that I was psyched to see. The flu had taken my friend Jacq out of the equation. I had a good time at the movies though, saw lots of cool local businesses and bravely recorded my first original song. I was in good spirits as Tornado Bus drove south to San Marcos.