Austin Texas

What A Year It’s Been

I kind of knew 2012 would be a challenge. Michael had gotten word from his boss in December of 2011 that he may be losing his job and sure enough, restructuring happened and he lost his job at the end of January. Because of that, it’s been a year of ups and downs. Going down to one income was difficult, especially since my paltry income in no way could cover the mortgage. Luckily, we scraped by on my salary and his unemployment without going into any debt or suffering too much.

Stress levels were definitely high this year but I tried to focus on my personal growth and used fitness as my stress-reliever. I increased my cycling this summer more than I ever did last year. I was able to somewhat successfully commute to work by bike 3 times a week (with some bumps in the road because of lots of flat tires).

The cycling training I did didn’t prepare me for that full Century I wanted to do. Instead, Michael and I biked the Salem Metric Century (64 miles). It was a great ride and I felt strong and happy at the end.

peach

My knees, however, ended up being a literal pain the remainder of 2012. I was diagnosed with the dreaded runner’s knee but immediately started physical therapy, altered my workouts, and was able to rehab my knees enough to try running again. I’m still not 100% but I’m glad I can do something!

The Highlights

The biggest highlight of 2012 was Michael landing the perfect job. I really do think things happen for a reason and the reason for our struggles this year was for Michael to find an even better job than his last one with better people, benefits and pay.

I had my 15 minutes of fame when I was on the local news about my weight loss. And I found an agent for my book!

Traveling

It’s funny how the year that Michael loses his job ends up being the year we do the most traveling. I don’t know how, it just ended up that way. We were really, really lucky this year with our vacations.

The first one was to Vegas. We cashed in all our airline miles to make the trip doable. We stayed at the Monte Carlo and had a wonderful time (but I never have a bad time in Vegas). I won on roulette the entire trip, we saw a Cirque show and ate some amazing food.

vegas

The second trip was to Texas for his sister’s wedding. Since it was a family event we didn’t have to pay for airfare or a place to stay for the wedding. It was nice seeing his family and the wedding was beautiful. We ended up going to Austin for a few days to celebrate our 4th anniversary before heading back home.

wedding

austin2

I surprised Michael for his birthday and whisked him away to the beach. We walked in the sand, saw sea otters, ate some good food and drank beer at Rogue.

rogue

Lastly, the trip to Hawaii. Man, that was a surprise! Another gift from the universe. Our friends invited us to stay with them at their condo and all we had to foot was airfare. I have to say that the best parts of Hawaii were running and swimming in the ocean.

beach
birdsof

Also, the flowers.  🙂

Moving Forward

What does 2013 have in store for me? Only time will tell. I have a lot of goals I want to achieve in the new year and I’m going to be focused and determined to achieve them. A lot of my goals revolve around cycling, my book, and hopefully some personal enrichment. I’m forming a book club, I applied to volunteer at the cat shelter I used to volunteer at, and I’m planning some fun trips (of course one will most likely be Vegas!).

Cheers!

QUESTION: How was 2012 for you? What were the highlights?

Austin Finale

Austin is a cool city. It has a party-vibe to it similar to Las Vegas, but with a hippie vibe like Portland. Everyone says it’s the Portland of Texas. I get it. It’s a fun city, it’s healthy and into fitness. I saw so many cyclists and an incredible number of runners in the city–which impressed me! How the hell do they run when it’s 100 degrees out? The other thing about Texas is that everyone is so friendly. Austin is just a nice place to visit.

I left off my story with me melting in the heat after a hike and stroll through the park. We just wanted to kill some time and relax out of the heat. It was nearly intolerable. We ended up once again at The Driskill.

We both loved the opulence of the historic hotel and the amazing air-conditioning. Their bar was classy, comfortable and the service was top-notch. No wonder it was a favorite. Michael and I had a leisurely drink (he had a Martini and I had a Texas Orange blossom which tasted like the orange and vanilla ice cream cup) and then we made our way to dinner. It was happy hour, thankfully, so our drinks were half price.

Dinner was at La Condesa. Mexican was a must. The place was cool and trendy—definitely upscale. The place was packed when we got there but luckily got a table outside.

The restaurant reminded me of a  yuppie Portland NW 23rd joint. I got a glass of the tempranillo and Michael got a Shiner.

For dinner we ordered the “Guacamole Flight.” If you go to La Condesa, the guacamole tasting is a MUST. It’s unique and you won’t be disappointed. It also came with four salsa samplers.

There were 4 guacamole samples. The first was their plain, original guacamole. Next was one with chipotle jam and sliced almonds on top. Odd, but totally fantastic—smoky and delicious.

Next was guacamole with diced apples and crab! Who knew that avocado, crab and apples would be a good combination? Finally, there was one with chunks of watermelon and cojita cheese crumbled on top. Bizarre but fantastic and it was Michael’s favorite.

For the entrees Michael got chicken tacos and I got the El Califa—wagyu beef and cheese—tacos. There were two of each and we shared. I felt like the El Califa taco was okay but the cheese definitely overpowered the beef. The chicken was mild and tasty. I was also glad that the portions were small because I was honestly sick of eating!

La Condesa was cool and worth a visit, even if you just go for a snack and try the guacamole. It was a little on the spendy side, though.

We finished up our evening at The Ginger Bread Man pub. I got a half pint of the Live Oak Liberation IPA—a Texas beer that the waiter at The Driskill recommended we try. It was delicious and just like a Portland beer! Tasty! I was glad I had a half pint because I’d reached my limit of food, alcohol and indulging.

The Ginger Bread Man was a cool pub (reminded us of The Horse Brass English pub in Portland). I recommend it to any beer fans because there were at least 100 beers on tap.

I ended my jam-packed day EXHAUSTED.

Tuesday – The End!

Tuesday morning I got up early and worked out in the hotel gym. It was empty at 7:20 (which was nice) so I used the elliptical. It wasn’t the best but it was better than nothing!

Time: 53 minutes
Calories Burned: 385

We checked out and went downtown to The Driskill for breakfast before we left. We sat outside on the patio. It was so humid that my glasses and camera lens fogged up as soon as we stepped outside. It felt like we were walking in moisture.

Breakfast in the Driskill café is good and worth a visit. We both ordered the Migas. It came with refried beans and a VERY spicy chipotle salsa. The 2 scrambled eggs had caramelized onions and VERY hot jalapenos in it. The meal was tasty and filling, even though the portion seemed small at first.

Fantastic service at the Driskill—every time we went there, in fact—and I really recommend it. It’s a classy place.

We spent 5 days in Texas total and I was ready to go home after the 4th day. It was a long vacation, the longest we’ve been on together I think. It was fun (and we only had to pay for the Austin portion so it was affordable–the benefit of staying with family!) but I missed “normal” weather, my kitties and VEGETABLES.

How did I do? I indulged, definitely, but I did not go overboard. I ate smaller portions, less frequent meals, and the heat killed my appetite. But I definitely ate foods that are not normally in my diet—fried and fatty. I was so ready to go home and eat vegetables from our garden, fruit, and not-fried foods.

I’m sure I gained a few pounds but will be trying to reverse that immediately back in Portland. I am happy that I was able to work out, run and swim on vacation. It helped me feel healthy while I indulged.

QUESTION: What do you miss most about home while on vacation?