Friday, December 30, 2005

To Austin

Before leaving for Austin we had lunch with Susan and Brett’s mum; pleasant enough meal although Brett is now sufficiently recovered from his cold that he got into an argument with his mum about why she didn’t want the Mac computer that her children had bought her for Christmas last year. (I think he had wanted to use the Mac as an avenue to spend more time talking with his mum, helping her to get to know the machine, but she had just wanted a computer that worked the way she was used to.) Fortunately the discussion remained civil and lunch proceeded.

I ordered an appetiser for my main course, but when it arrived the cheese-dip with steak pieces was fairly bland and looked like it would congeal in a most unattractive way if left to cool. I ate some of it, but was also grateful that Susan wanted to share her steak and Brett had lots of chips on his plate. Susan is planning a trip up to Boston for a jobs’ fair and was agonising over what the rest of the family would do if she moved to a different state to take up a job offer. Having all grown up to live within a convenient visiting distance of each other and depending on other family members for baby-minding assistance, etc., it would be a big change in the family dynamic if one of the matriarchs were half a continent away, conversely it’s a lot to ask of the family to all follow her: Quite the dilemma.

We shared a lovely dessert though to take her mind off it!

After lunch we loaded up the car and headed south towards Austin, the State Capital, and Rich, Brett’s friend and former roommate, who is hosting us through New Year.

The drive was fairly dull; this area of Texas is pretty flat and endless strips of Ford dealerships and neon-outlined fast-food chains can only hold the attention for so long. I got bored and started messing with the camera on my phone. I got some nice shots of the sunset though – or at least not bad for a fixed-focus one-megapixel device used in a moving car…

We arrived in Austin a little before 7pm (after the best part of four hours on the road!) Rich’s house is a lovely (large!) Victorian mini-mansion on a corner. It reminds me somewhat of the Garden District houses of New Orleans with its two-storey wrap-around veranda. Inside, it’s very tastefully furnished with a seamless blend of period and modern. It looks like he’s put a lot of work into it.

Once we’d got settled we drove into town and Brett and Rich gave me a little tour of the Austin highlights before we went to Chuy’s (pronounced: Chewies) for dinner. Chuy’s is a Tex-Mex diner/restaurant and seemed to be very popular; there was a 70-minute wait for a table. We picked up some cocktails and chips & dip and did some more catching up while we waited for the table.

The décor of the place had a certain quirkiness to it that Rich couldn’t really explain; the ceiling was hung with lots (lots!) of model fish and old vinyl LPs and there were quite a few references to Elvis around which we could reconcile with the records but not with the fish…

The cutlery came in little packets (“Sterilised for your protection.”) which had three prayers written on the back; each one labelled ‘Protestant’, ‘Catholic’ and ‘Jewish.’ Very strange… surely if you are religious enough to pray before each meal, you’re already going to know your benediction?

After dinner we drove up to 37th Street which is renowned for its Christmas lights (see here) and then had ice-cream ‘crush-ins’ at Amy’s, a popular local ice cream chain before heading home to bed.

No comments: