Note to all I-10 drivers: the route from Baton Rouge to Lafayette is almost all bridge. That’s right, just one long bridge. Mile after mile after mile of bridge (Lake Charles, Atchafalaya Basin, Whiskey Bay Pilot, Mississippi…) . Oh, and the Mississippi bridge? HUGE. A few people decided to capture the moment on video (going East not West) and I think I’ll share it here (please listen to the commentary, because it’s amazing)
It’s funny how stereotypes are there for a reason. I stopped for gas just outside of the Texas state line at a place that boasted Texas BBQ and lots of clubs of, um, lesser repute, shall we say, that often included “Bayou” in the name (still technically in Louisiana).
Just after I hopped back on the freeway, all of a sudden everything changed. I passed the sign that let me know I was now in Texas, but the sign really wasn’t necessary. All of a sudden, everything was just BIGGER. The road was bigger, and I was somehow now the only non-truck vehicle I could see. Stretches or highway were bigger, signs were bigger, rest stops were bigger, everything in Texas really is bigger. Cities are certainly no exception. Houston is HUGE. I was more than happy to drive right through it over the massive expanse of freeway systems there. Eventually I reached my destination, the end of Leg #3 of my road trip: Austin.
Other stereotypes? Cowboys in Texas. Driving on 290W I saw crossing the street in front of me a boy on his horse. Yup, his horse. Just casually crossing the freeway. I guess a horse is a means of transportation just as much as a car is… the funny thing is I wasn’t quite shocked by this sight, but rather that he was not wearing a Stetson.
Cowboy boots, however, are still very much in style (whew). And I saw a few of them as I saw Austin. Yes, folks, I actually got to see a city while on this road trip. I’ve never been to Austin before, so my host, Allisa (a friend from Orvieto excavations and MA studies at Arizona), took it upon herself to show me what the city had to offer.
First things first: a long drive left me thirsty and the perfect place to quench my thirst was at a birthday bash for a friend in Allisa’s department (at UT Austin).This took place at this super neat-o coffee shop/watering hole near campus, call Spider’s.
Then we headed to S. Congress Street to walk about and get some grub and just enjoy the night.
It wasn’t too late a night. I had a 7:30am date with a barbell and Chad Vaughn! And my buddy, JJ, who I hadn’t seen since October 2010! I met them at GrassIron Gym, which is basically a dream come true gym for anyone who loves lifting. The entire floor is like one giant platform, and all their bars and plates are Eleiko. *swoon*!!! I joined these Austin lifters for snatch grip push press, snatches, clean and jerks, and back squats. 2 hours later, I was sweaty, happy, and left awake, energized, and with hugs all around. I love it when people I don’t know are encouraging me through a lift, hoping that I, a total stranger (but mutual lifter), find success.
Then I experienced the Austin Zoo. It’s not your average zoo, because it’s actually a rescue sanctuary. It started as just a petting zoo of sorts with lots of farm animals, but since has expanded to including black bears, tigers, lions (one of whom was neutered young to be a ‘guard lion’ for a drug lord… he’s missing a mane because of it), monkeys (many of which were rescued from owners who just decided they couldn’t handle them any more), coatis, wolves (2 of whom have only 3 legs), lemurs… all sorts of animals. It even has a blind leopard, who shares a cage with a black panther.
And, of course, I did eat BBQ. Texas BBQ, mind (there is a difference!). We went to The County Line, which consisted of a beautiful drive out of Austin to this really BIG barbeque joint near a creek. We got some margaritas while we waited for a table, then dug in to MEAT and more MEAT. The portions were BIG (as is the theme in Texas), and… well I’m sorry to say we all took home leftovers. I know what I’ll be eating on the drive tomorrow!!! There were many signs around saying “Eat here. Diet later.” Word.