Austin Texas

Yep It Feels Like 107 Degrees

Monday morning I got up early and Michael took me to Barton Springs to go swimming. This was by FAR my favorite thing about Texas and I was SO glad I did it. Thanks to my friend Neal, I knew about it! Otherwise I wouldn’t have known how cool it was. Barton Springs is near Zilker Park and not far from downtown. It’s an oasis in the middle of a very hot, very dry city. It’s a river fed by springs and it’s about 67 degrees year round (I am told).

They’ve made a part of it into a sort of pool for people to enjoy when the heat becomes too much to take. There is a diving board for kids and you can swim, play, or float. It only costs $3. Totally worth it. But, if you arrive from 5 a.m. -8 a.m. it’s free (or from 9-10pm). I got there at 7:30 and got in free. I was ready to swim!

That early in the morning on a Monday, the place was not crowded. At least, no kids were there. It was just packed with the serious swimmers. It was so cool. I waded in and it was shockingly cold. At first I thought it might be too cold, but I was invested in doing it so I sucked it up. It was very cold at first but then it was nice. The temperature outside was 85 degrees, so the cool waters felt nice.

The length of the pool was 1/8 of a mile. I started swimming. Where I started I could stand up easily and it was rock under foot. It was fine, something I was ok with. Then I started swimming and it got deeper and deeper and I realized it was NOT a pool—there was STUFF in it! There was lots of grass and underwater plant life that was rather scary for someone used to swimming in a pool. AND there were FISH! One was as long as my arm. It was huge and shocking. The water got deeper and was eventually 14 feet deep and there were parts where I could not see the bottom.

I’ll admit, I freaked out a little bit. I swam to the end of the “pool”, my heart had been pounding in my chest and my heart rate was in the 160’s. Entirely from panic. Well, I had my first adult experience with open-water swimming! Eventually I got over my panic and swam my laps. There were no lanes, people just kind of swam. There wasn’t an issue with confusion, but my form wasn’t great because I kept having to look up to make sure I wasn’t running into other swimmers.

I spent an hour in the water and swam 1.5 miles. It felt AWESOME! I LOVED IT! I never got completely comfortable in the springs but it was fun and I got better at it. I LOVED swimming outside. It’s so much better than a gym experience.

Michael picked me up and we went back to the hotel to shower and dress, then headed to an early lunch. The goal WAS J. Meuller’s BBQ cart. It was supposedly the #2 BBQ place (Franklin’s being #1). It was closed. We were SO bummed out. Truly.

Our second choice was a restaurant downtown called Lambert’s. Yelp reviews made it sounds really good, so we gave it a try. Lambert’s was a very cool, trendy restaurant. The service was impeccable. The food was pretty good. On a scale of 1-10, 10 being Franklin’s BBQ, Lambert’s was probably a 6. It was better than anything we’ve had in Portland, but not Franklin’s.

I got the jalapenos hot link and the brisket that was cooked in coffee (didn’t taste like it). It came with baked mac n’ cheese and beans. The brisket was good. I had two pieces that were “black and fatty” –meaning it melted in my mouth, and a few pieces that were drier.

The mac n’ cheese was odd. The first few bites I was unsure of it, but I warmed up to it. It was creamy and had a velveeta kind of texture and flavor. Lunch was good and I was stuffed. I only ate half of my sausage because I just couldn’t finish it.

I left off with our BBQ lunch. After lunch we headed to The Capitol building to do a self-guided tour.

The architecture was amazing and the history was cool. Had we had more time, I would have preferred the guided tour to really hear the history of the building.

Then we went to the Zilker Botanical Garden. It was hot as hell. I was very, very uncomfortable and felt lethargic. The heat was just beating down on us.

We walked around the gardens, which were pretty, but it was too hot out. I can’t say I thoroughly enjoyed the parks because of that.

My favorite parts of the garden were the lotus flowers and then “dinosaur” garden. There was also a pretty waterfall. It only cost $2 to go to the gardens and I’d say it’s worth a visit–just go early in the morning before it’s too hot.

We headed back to the hotel for a short nap. It was so needed. After that, we went back out. The goal was Mount Bonnell. Supposedly it was a nice hike and a spectacular viewpoint.

We drove out of town and then up a hill passed nice house. We parked at the bottom and then walked up the stairs. It was just too hot to really hike. The views at Mount Bonnell were worth the sweaty walk.

I could see the sparkling Colorado River, the mansions along the riverside, and views of downtown Austin. It was fun.

Finally, we headed back to Congress to just walk around and kill time. Window shopping, then stopping for a slice of pizza at Home Slice. Michael got a slice of pepperoni. I had a few bites but mainly just enjoyed a cool lemonade. Next up: a small cup of ice cream.

Yes, I was totally indulging in Austin. But to be fair, I wasn’t eating much (mainly 2 meals a day) because the heat killed my appetite. But a cold ice cream was what I needed in the heat. It was 99 degrees “but felt like 107”. Ugh.

The ice cream hit the spot. I got the Mexican vanilla. It was rich and creamy, tasted like it was made from real cream and vanilla beans. Amazing. So glad I got it. We shared the ice cream and then sought refuge from the heat in the Driskill once again.

QUESTION: How do you handle the heat? Does your workout routine change?


I wanted to work out Sunday morning but the hotel was charging $10 to use the gym. Meh, no thanks. Not worth it—especially since we were heading to another hotel that had a free gym and pool. It really bothers me when hotels nickel and dime guests. Despite that, the hotel was beautiful and an enjoyable stay.

Michael and I had a quick breakfast with his Dad and stepmom in the hotel restaurant. My cousins Melina and Leah were able to join us! I was so glad I got to see them. They both live in Dallas. The last time Michael and I were in Texas, it was for Melina’s wedding. It was so good to see them.

After breakfast we checked out and rented a car. Destination: Austin. Wedding stuff was over and Michael and I were off to celebrate our 4th anniversary!

The drive from Dallas to Austin is brutal—long, boring, nothing to see. We arrived in Austin around 3:45p.m., checked into our hotel (The Doubletree—very nice, glad we stayed there) and then headed downtown to start our festivities!

We walked around Congress Street—the heart of the action—and it was HOTTER THAN EFFING HELL. Oh my god. Sweat was dripping down my back and face at an alarming rate. It was so uncomfortable. See the above photo? Most restaurants and bars in Austin had these fans and misters to keep people cool. It felt nice.

We finally found refuge in a shaded outdoor patio beer garden. The huge trees shaded the guests and we settled in with some Texas beer (essentially like drinking water) and relaxed.

There was a band playing and it was just such a fun, cool vibe. I had plans to meet up with a friend who moved to Austin a few years ago. Neal met us at the food carts on Congress Sunday evening.

Michael and I got an order from the Fry Baby food cart to-go. It was 2 pieces of fried chicken (which Michael ate) and 1 piece of fried cod (which I ate) and some delicious, salty fries.

The three of us took dinner over to Barton Springs park to eat in the shade. I was so glad that we spent the evening with Neal. He was a fantastic tour guide. He suggested that I return to Barton Springs to go swimming, and took us around town to show us around.

Eventually the three of us ended up at the water front to see the bats.  It was clearly a popular event. The place was packed. We ended up waiting over 2 hours to no avail. Perhaps the heat wave made them not want to fly, but we eventually gave up. We were all disappointed.

Despite the disappointment, it was a fun evening with a friend. We dropped him off and then Michael and I headed to 6th Avenue to see the “action.”

6th Avenue was the party. Even though it was Sunday night, the place was popping! It was a row of restaurants, pubs, clubs, drive bars and crowded with people. It had a very Las-Vegas –Strip-vibe. It was just one big party!

We walked around and just checked everything out and then ended up getting a drink at The Driskill hotel. It’s right downtown and totally worth a visit. We both want to stay there next time—granted, if we can afford it. Something tells me it’s pretty spendy.

The Driskill is where the Top Chef contestants stayed last season for Top Chef Texas. It was totally cool to hang out there! The bar was classy and beautiful, and The Driskill does Air Conditioning right! It was like entering a walk-in meat locker. Gorgeous.

We tried the Texas version of an IPA. Yes, I am aware I am a total beer snob. If I can’t get the good microbrews that I like (and can find everywhere in the NW), I usually just drink wine. But I thought I’d give it a try. It was ok but not great. Better than Shiner, for sure.

It was a very, very long day and a late night but I was glad we stayed out and “partied”. If by partied you are imaging we were back at the hotel and asleep by midnight. 😉

QUESTION: Have you ever been to Austin? What was your experience?