Wednesday Morning, March 8
Last Wednesday morning I had to drop Mr. Bring-Home-the-Bacon at the airport at 6 a.m. for a flight back to Detroit for work. What’s a solo gal to do before dawn in Austin? I fired up Yelp! to see what was open at that time of day. There aren’t many choices, I can tell you.
Check it out: Voodoo Donuts! They create some really wacky but delicious creations. No problem getting parking at that time of the day, either. I had to try the namesake doughtnut and saved the mango-filled one for another day.
By 7 a.m. my gut was groaning, so I headed out. The Texas Capitol Building was less than a mile away, so I opted to walk off at least a few bites of that donut.
The Capitol area incorporates a dozen different state buildings, dating from the mid-1800s to the modern era. There are at least a dozen monuments and memorials on the grounds, and another dozen sculptures. Various plaques described the history of the area, including buildings that had to be razed when the grounds were expanded in the 1990s.
It’s truly a beautiful campus. Trees dot the landscape, and the ground gently rises and falls. Guests and employees – some in sport coats with a crest stitched on the front? – entered through a half dozen gates and doorways. The official website has a crazy amount of further historical data and dazzling photographs. I highly recommend a visit if you find yourself in the area.
Here are a few of the pics I took with my cell phone.
Unfortunately for me, the Guest Services building was not open until 9 a.m., and I did not have time remaining on my parking meter to explore inside the building on my own. So I called it a day and headed to the thrift store a few miles away which opened at 8 a.m.
Sunday Afternoon, March 12
Shawn returned on a very late flight on Saturday night. After letting him sleep in, I took him to a local eatery for breakfast. It was…. Just ok. For $25, I expected more. More service, more food, more flavor.
Maybe this is part of the reason that Michigan rates so very low for healthy living. We like our breakfasts, and we like a lot of it! On weekends, we like to eat a big breakfast, then have one more meal in the evening.
From what I’ve seen so far in Texas, breakfast doesn’t seem to be a very big deal. Oh, there are IHOPs and Cracker Barrels all over, but that’s it. Back home there are coney islands and diners and the Original Pancake House and Bob Evans – and on and on, specializing in breakfast. It’s probably for the best that we can’t overindulge at breakfast here – I know it’s healthier to eat several small meals throughout the day.
This was my first experience with kolaches, and they were delicious! Kolaches are pretty indigenous to south Texas. Here’s a terrific story that tells the origins of the savory treat and best places to obtain them. And now that I write this, I’m craving another bacon-and-cheddar kolache…
Sunday’s weather was cold and dreary – about 50 degrees by this time. But we had our jackets, so we took a short drive to Mount Bonnell which is rated as #8 of the top things to do in Austin on TripAdvisor.
From here you can gaze down on some of the $.5k-$3M homes on the Colorado River below. And far in the distance from one angle you can see the Austin skyline. This area has quite a history. Check out this great Austinot article for details.
The views were nice; I’m hoping to return for a sunset view on a nicer day.
OK, it’s only about 2 p.m., still wet and cloudy from yesterday’s rain, but I don’t want to waste our only sightseeing day of the week! The Texas Museum of Military History (http://texasmilitaryforcesmuseum.org/about-us/) (#31 on TripAdvisor) at Ft. Mabry was only another mile or so away, so we headed there next.
As we drove to the gate we spotted some re-enactors in costume. Turns out we were just in time to watch a demonstration of skills and a mock battle between volunteers in Civil War battle dress. These volunteers provide their own uniforms, firearms, and even artillery!
Thank goodness they also provided us free earplugs. The musketfire was loud enough, but the cannons really BOOMed! Of course they did not use shot, only the gunpowder charges. Apparently it takes a full pound of gunpowder for each cannon shot.
Shawn videotaped the entire battle, but I’m not really willing to use that much of our WiFi data plan to upload it! But this short clip of one of the cannon is pretty awesome:
We wish we had videotaped the speech given by the narrator at the end. He was very eloquent and engaging. The overall theme of the obviously well-rehearsed, passionate speech was that it’s important to remember our history as a nation and as a people. Americans have the innate ability to come together regardless of past differences. The experience was concluded with a reverent recording of Taps.
After the battle, we wandered through the museum. The museum perfectly encapsulated its name. Kids won’t find a lot here, as the displays are all static, mostly in glass cases (smaller items like uniforms and arms) or behind railing (the vehicles). Like all the other kids, I was disappointed that we couldn’t actually climb on the tanks/vehicles….
The re-enactment was definitely the best part of the day. I’m hoping serendipity continues to smile on us like this to give us these wonderful opportunities.
Looks like fun! I spent a couple of nice days in Austin, wandering about in brutal summer heat. Things I remember: thousands of Mexican free-tailed bats pouring out from under an overpass at sunset, the Treaty Oak, several moonlight towers, Stevie Ray Vaughan’s statue, and the UT campus (including the famous tower). I wanted to visit, but didn’t have time for, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.
The bats are also on our “To Do” list! We’re hoping to take a sunset cruise on the water to watch them. Just dependent on Shawn’s work schedule, weather, and then those oh-so-tricky mammals taking wing!
Do you know how often they do those reenactments? I would love to watch something like that. I feel like Austin is one of those places you could spend months in as a tourist and never see everything. Your photos of the capital show that…. so much to see and do. Very cool!
Thanks for the compliment! I got the impression that it wasn’t very often – the host/narrator said that the volunteers participating in the exercise came from all over the state of Texas. The Museum does have an “Events” page on their website, and it was listed there, so I’d check there first.
I’m excited because next weekend we will ride a restored turn-of-the-century train 66 miles to see a gunfight and the Teas countryside. That’s our big splurge for the month, I think. We’ll definitely provide a review of that attraction!
Laura, I just randomly found this while looking at another potential stop for us: https://www.mrps.org/events/civil-war-weekend
Wow, cool. I guess I always thought of reenactments as being limited to places like Gettysburg. I need to look outside the biggest historic battlegrounds and see what’s around. Of course, that is the downside of living on the road – you have to get lucky to be in the right place at the right time. Hopefully we’ll have some luck like you did. Thanks for the great idea!