Austin Beer

I am an enormous fan of Austin beer. My standard favorite is Austin Beerworks Fire Eagle. Delish. I have lots of favorites but today I am trying a new brewery in Austin: Adelbert’s.

This one is Scratchin’ Hippo which I have to say, I’m a fan. I don’t normally choose Belgian beers when I go to the store but this would be the first one I’d pick. Highly recommend! Also, I really enjoyed the Naked Nun, another great choice from Adelbert’s. 

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166 Miles later…

I’m back safe and sound! I rode from Houston to Austin this weekend with Team ACFE’s Intangible Assets. It was incredibly difficult but I absolutely loved it. See you next year MS150!!

ms150 finish

SXSW

It’s that time again kids! The infamous SXSW has come to Austin. Prepare to park your car and dust off your bike because SXSW is a time where traffic never moves and parking is a distant dream.

Despite the fact that I am fortunate (or unfortunate in this case) to have a full time job and cannot attend all the free things that happen in the day, my plan this year is to make the most of Austin’s legendary event. The key, I have learned, is to RSVP to as many free events as possible. So far I only have a few shows lined up for myself but my big plan tonight is to work out a schedule. Tomorrow at the Belmont will be Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr.

Maybe a free concert by the Shins at Auditorium Shores next week?

The possibilities are endless!

Bike Your Butt Off

Up until I turned 14 I biked everywhere. Every day I biked to school with my friend Marissa. In the summers we biked to the local shopping center, to everyone’s house, to the historical gardens and village where we could go get milkshakes at the Soda Shop and look in the toy store. There were very few places we even considered going that needed a car. Even just being on your bike was a destination, an activity in itself. We didn’t need more than to just start riding.

Then  high school happened. Biking wasn’t cool anymore.  All we wanted were our drivers licenses and to take rides in older kids’ cars, much to our parents dismay. When I finally realized biking was in fact not only environmentally friendly but completely awesome I was off to college in hilly Asheville, NC.

Tons of people bike in Asheville but it’s hard and most people just put on their walking shoes rather than climb the hills, legs pumpin, sweat pouring and all that jazz. So when I biked for two hours yesterday, it was the first time in a looooooong time.

The Thursday Night Social Ride is a well known event in Austin where about 200 or cyclists ride around town at a relaxed pace and end up at a bar. I misheard the description when I was told about it. I had gotten the impression there would be stops along the way and bars etc. Oh no. It was a 16+ mile ride at a leisurely pace (really? cause I was pretty far behind everyone) where periodically people would stop, pull out beers and smokes out of their bags, chit-chat for 5-10 minutes and then move on once everyone’s together again (til I caught up basically).

I will preface this by saying earlier in the day I had nothing to do (re: Boring) so I walked over to a friend’s house in Hyde Park where I had left my bike. I figured I would make it a fun easy stroll, pick up my bike and be back before it was totally dark.

Problem number 1: I live pretty far east so it’s about an hour to downtown.

Problem number 2: I wore the wrong shoes.

Problem number 3: It’s another hour to my friend’s house not including my ATM stop, water stop, and stop at the Halcyon cafe where I decided to put up my feet for a while.

On the way there one of my only girl friends called and invited me to come to this ride. Sure! (Idiot.)

Problem number 4: It’s extremely hard to find your way in a new city, on a bike, in the dark. Oh and surprise!, my borrowed bike’s lights don’t work. (A very nice boy biked me there for fear I was a danger to myself and others.)

In the end the ride was fine, but by the end I had nothing left. And by the end I mean I quit after two hours. My friends and I biked back to where I had just picked up my bike hours earlier and I was made a grilled cheese and wrapped up in a jacket and tucked in a corner where I felt permanently immobilized. (Did I mention Problem number 6:  Improperly dressed for cold?)

I was able to move at some point early this morning and biked my sore little butt home.

In conclusion: I’m not giving up next time! But I’m also not going to walk all over kingdom come before either. I’m going to try again and I highly recommend others do too! Continue reading

Market Mania

So far I’ve spent this blog just kind of blabbing various thoughts in my head or expressing anxiety over certain life troubles. That’s totally not the point here.  The point is an exploration of Austin, something I seem to be doing but not actually putting it down here. So all the things I’m about to say happened before the holidays but who really cares. Better late than never.

My favorite thing in the world is markets. Every city I go to I find out if they have a market. What kind is it? Is there more than one? It doesn’t matter if it’s food, craft, flea, cheesy, or holiday themed. I will go there and I will love it. To the vendors of these fine places, I apologize. I rarely actually purchase anything. Not only am I simply poor but I also poorly plan things. I can never afford to buy much and I, for some terrible and unexplainable reason, have usually just been to the grocery store right before I go to the farmer’s market.

But since my move to Austin I have had the pleasure of exploring several of the city’s fine markets. A friend of a friend, offered me a few hours work helping him sell bison at his booth in the Austin Farmer’s Market Downtown. Check it out: Thunderheart Bison! From this couple Saturdays of walking around right before the vendors shut I got to see a bit of its selection. And while this market does not compare to most cities’ markets (none of the Austin Markets are very big), it is so far my favorite regularly occurring one. I’ve had very good luck buying vegetables from various vendors here (two weeks ago I bought green tomatoes and made fried green tomatoes, goat cheese grits and biscuits with fresh parsley and garlic in them) and the marinated feta I bought rocks my world. It’s all food here, both prepared and otherwise. The breakfast tacos are addictive and the  chocolate I bought my dad for Christmas from Cocoa Puro Kakawa Chocolates was a big hit. There’s also live music which usually varies as much in style as it does in quality. It’s definitely a get there early type situation. Everything will sell out.

Next I tried something with a little holiday spirit, the Blue Genie Art Bazaar. And while it is oddly located, has a horribly designed website and is pretty small, it does not disappoint. It was packed with local jewelry, artwork and other various crafts. It was cute and quirky. My only drawback was that it was not cheap and my wallet is quite small. I wasn’t able to afford much there although it all depends on what you’re looking for, etc.

The Armadillo Christmas Bazaar on the other hand was all disappointment. Located at the large Palmer Events Center and with excellent advertising, I thought it would have a variety of prices and things I might be able to purchase. With a $4 entry fee, surely it would be worthwhile. There was certainly a variety of crafts and artwork. It was pleasantly accompanied by live music and had (over priced) food and drink for sale. Many shoppers were walking around sipping local beers and probably equally delightful glasses of wine. Everything, absolutely everything, was expensive. Necklaces similar to those I saw at Blue Genie were twice the price. All but the cheesiest of gifts seemed to live in the $40+ range. Painful. After learning how much these things would cost me, including the cup of tea I wanted to sip, I was no longer truly able to enjoy the bazaar and took my leave. I’m sure the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar is up many people’s alleys but it did not accommodate mine.

Today after a bit of yoga and a short jog by the lake (look at me and my healthy new year!) I stopped by the Hope Farmers Market in East Austin. It was very small and certainly not busy  but fun, upbeat tunes were being played. And when I bought my cauliflower and expensive eggs the vendor gave me another one for free. Thank you, helpful vendor man. I enjoyed all the artwork displayed and while I wasn’t hungry, there was a lot of happily munching people walking around on sausages, etc. My favorite part of this market has to be what HOPE stands for. I never even thought that HOPE might have a special meaning before I saw a sign: Helping Other People Everywhere. Check out the Hope Campaign to find out more about their work.

In Port Arthur, Tasmania, I walked around their convict museum. There was a section on convict tattoos and what they meant to the men that wore them. The one that captured my eye the most was a large tattoo of Lady Justice with her scales. Can you imagine what it must have meant for a convict, possibly wrongly imprisoned as was common and given the overly harsh sentence of being transported from his home to live as a prisoner across the world, to get a tattoo of Lady Justice? At first I thought the men would have been mocking justice, saying that they are proof it doesn’t exist. But as the museum’s board informed me, it meant hope. Hope, that one day justice would prevail and they would once again be free men.

Since I saw that I realized hope is what life should really be about. The hope I have for my own life, for my family, for the world. But the Hope Campaign has perhaps formed an even more accurate and important view on the word hope.

How can there even be hope if there are not people “Helping Other People Everywhere”?

Bring It On, Texas

It’s almost a new year and it’s a time for setting goals into motion. Ideas and intentions need to be revived and re-energized.  The last blog I wrote was all about exploring Australia and discovering the ins and outs of being a solo traveler. We laughed, we cried, we asked for more pictures.

Now, I am taking on a task that may seem small time after the big Oz but it’s just as daunting.

I moved to Texas.

Growing up, I learned to dislike Texas. My dear old dad fled the state over 25 years ago looking for four individual seasons (not scorching hot and sort of mild), people who won’t cry over football games and a fresh start. I heard all about the arrogance of Texans (Sorry Dad, you’re not exempt), the love for guns, the terrible heat. When I got older and found myself in love with the finer things in life: art, music, travel, wine, and new possibilities, I knew I would never move to Texas. It would be suffocating both physically and emotionally.

But then I heard about Austin.

Soon after graduating college, I decided that my ultimate goal was to scare myself. Every life choice should be a challenge, an obstacle to make me stronger and more self-aware. And through these choices, I hope to become better equipped to find out what it is in life I’m truly after.

What’s scarier than a liberal moving to Texas? Kidding. Austin is obviously a haven for such people but of course, I don’t know any of these other people. I know a total of 4 people in Austin (two of whom are out of town). I don’t have a job and my financial safety net dwindles by the minute but it’s a recession and people everywhere are getting by. I can too.

I’ve started this blog to keep me motivated in the face of economic and social depression to explore Austin, explore Texas, and conquer the fear of going out into this so-called “real world”.

In the meantime I have a lovely lady to keep me company, Frank Two (didn’t name her, not my cat):