I joked last night to Tracy that Austin, Texas, seems just like Washington, D.C. but with different hats. He looked around, at the hordes of sweaty soccer players and the hipster parents with feral children—all at the brewery where we were sitting—and he totally agreed. Except that the only cowboy hats around were on the band. Everyone else had on those flat-brimmed trucker hats that hipsters wear across the country.
It’s totally unfair of me to make fun of this place already: we’ve gone into town only a couple of times, so far.
An Urban State Park
We’ve been settling in at McKinney Falls State Park, which is actually inside Austin city limits (how fun is it I get to say that?). How it came about is interesting: this land has been in use for ages, notably as part of El Camino Real de los Tejas during Spain’s attempt to dominate Indigenous peoples here. After America took it over, it became the homestead for a thoroughbred horse breeder and his slaves, who built the stone buildings and walls that are protected by the park today.
As a Virginian, I feel like slave-built stone walls in the woods are a dime a dozen, but what’s new to me are the lovely fields of blooms here this spring.
Bluebonnets line the paths and park roads, and you can’t help but smell their sweet scent even without bending down to get a closer look. Man, have we been sneezing.
Check out this live oak along the path that circles the park: rangers have placed that support on the left to keep a branch above visitors’ heads. The trees in central Texas are magnificent.
Onion Creek runs through the park and creates its namesake falls the park, but they’re just a trickle right now. Still, people pour in each day to picnic by the creek and to fish and just hang out, even in the middle of the weekday. The weekend here is going to be crazy.
Speaking of which.
We did a lot of online research to find venues with good, local beer and food and music, and we waited until warm weather rolled around to hit the first one last night: a brewery only ten minutes from us. It might as well have been in Washington, D.C., for all the freaking children running around.
When we lived near D.C., Tracy and I watched as breweries went from allowing children in taprooms, to providing games for them, to offering birthday parties, until we just couldn’t go to certain ones anymore. I mean, really, children’s birthday parties at a brewery? Aren’t they supposed to be about beer?
I understand that breweries want to lure in the big demographic of young parents by becoming a family destination. But what about those of us who want to enjoy our beer—without being swarmed by crying, screaming, running, falling, jumping kids?
Last night Tracy and I changed seats a total of five times, trying to avoid the children. We ended up leaving early.
We really did that for me: I cannot see children in these situations without turning into the worst kind of parenting expert ever. My brain focuses on how the parents should have taken their kids home by now, how they’re hovering or ignoring or committing any number of parenting sins that make me apoplectic with anger. Tracy makes fun of me; I told him it’s like being a life guard at a pool full of sharks, and he rolled his eyes. I just can’t relax while bad parenting is happening near me. And if you’re letting your little kids run around a brewery at night, you’re all bad parents! So there.
Turns out I don’t like country music, either. I know, not exactly a news alert, is it?
What was weird last night is that the band members all seemed like solid musicians, and they were tight together. But you could hardly hear each one. If they’d been an East Coast band, the fiddler would have been working his ass off, but this guy didn’t even jump in with his playing, he wandered into the song every now and then like a docile stray cat. The guy on pedal steel guitar knew what he was doing, but he hardly ever took the lead, and he played that pink guitar in his lap for only a few licks.
Country bands don’t jam, is the problem. Tracy says you can’t two-step to unexpected jamming, and I bet he’s right.
The undeniably stellar part of the night was a plate of brisket we enjoyed with our beer. I’m no expert, but I’m thinking that brisket was better than what we had in Memphis. Heck, this is Texas, after all. Even in Austin.
The Tent’s Demise
Here’s what’s kept us delayed from going into town: the tent finally died.
Wind in Brownsville, then heavy rain at Choke Canyon ripped the roof, but since we’ve had Tent #2 for less than a year now, Tracy was able to get Clam to agree to send us a new one.
What’s funny is that they want us to send photos of specific pieces of the tent that we cut out and arrange apart, just so. I’m guessing they want to know for sure that the tent they’re replacing is dead, that we’re not going to keep using it or sell it when they send the new one.
So, as instructed, Tracy cut out the bottom of the zipper, two screen panels, and both sections with logos on them, then sent a picture of these pieces all together. It was painful to watch him take a razor to our beloved outside living room, especially since we won’t be able to take delivery of the new one until we get to Iowa. It really had been beaten by the wind in Brownsville, though, so goodbye old tent. Tracy dropped it in the park dumpster.
The weather looks to be rainy for several more days here, so we’ll have to wait to see about further forays into the live music/local beer scene. In the meantime, we’re going to stock up on items we’ve been keeping on a list labeled, “To Buy in Austin,” organic, vegetarian, locally-sourced, humanely raised, fancy expensive stuff we haven’t seen in ages, plus a list of unusual spices we’ve depleted.
We can make fun of the D.C./Austin vibe all we want, but we’re totally a part of it—Airstream and tattoos and craft beer and holier-than-thou parenting and all.