Austin, Texas, Day 2 — Thursday, September 26, 2019

Austin must be in the western part of its time zone. We thought that because when I awoke, I was surprised to be greeted by darkness. Nick and I, being morning people, decided to find breakfast. Knowing that our children are not morning people, we let them sleep in.

Nick found a breakfast cafe that  was recommended by Yelp! It was a short walk from the hotel, which pleased us, because the temperature was already high and climbing higher.  The cafe focused on Mexican and Guatemalan recipes. The majority of its patrons were people headed to their offices who would consume their food there. When we travel, we typically try local foods immediately. Instead, Nick ordered bacon and eggs,  and he raved that it was the best bacon he had ever tasted.  I ordered  one of the few “American” choices on the menu, French toast. Wow! Crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside, not fancy or overly sweet, it was absolutely delicious.

From there, we walked to the Tourist Information Center a few blocks away. We were greeted by an extremely enthusiastic clerk who gave us fliers about every place of interest in town, and made restaurant suggestions.

Back at the hotel, we discovered that Nicholas and Carla were ready to start exploring with us. We walked to the Capitol Building and signed up for a Tour of Austin’s Hispanic History. None of us had known very much about the history of Texas and there was a lot to learn.

After the tour, the temperature approached its daily high of 97 degrees, and we were all ready for lunch. Yelp! told us that the nearest place was a  Tex-Mex restaurant, El Mercado. Even though we had  Tex-Mex  food  the night before, we were too hot and too  hungry to look for a different type of cuisine. We soon discovered that while the  restaurant from the night before featured American style Tex-Mex food,  this restaurant was more authentic. The kids had brisket tacos,  while Nick and I had pork and chicken. They were wonderful, as were the refried beans.

My niece Dawn lives in Texas. She had planned to arrive early, but was delayed because of severe traffic issues. We returned to our hotel, where Nick though a nap was in order. Nicholas, Carla and I headed to the  hotel pool. Many people were relaxing around the pool, but on one was in it. We found out why. The water was very, very cold. It seems that the water in the outdoor pool circulates into the indoor pool, where the temperature is very low. As Nick, the scientist later explained, although the water at the surface of the pool gets  hot because of the air temperature, that hot water evaporates, leaving the cold water to rush in from the indoor pool. Although this was disappointing, along with the indoor pool there was a whirlpool, in which the water temperature was wonderful. We thoroughly enjoyed that.

Dawn arrived. It had been about a year since she visited us in Connecticut. We spent lots of time chatting, and I was so happy to hear that she loves her job (she is an RN) and has really good friends with whom she loves spending time. She has organized a bike riding group.  On Saturday mornings, they ride for twenty miles, stop for breakfast, and ride twenty miles back. She loves bike riding, and I’m so pleased that she has many friends and neighbors who enjoy it with her.

We had all heard about the bat phenomenon in Austin. At this time of year, more than a million bats spend their day asleep below the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge.  At sunset, they awaken and begin their search for food (mosquitos and other insects). Many people gather on and below the bridge to watch this phenomenon. We all wanted to see it, too. Back at the iInformation center, I had asked about a barbecue restaurant for which we would not have to wait on line and that was near the bridge.  The clerk recommended Cooper’s, and said we’d have no trouble getting in if we arrived before 6 PM.

We followed the clerk’s directions. Dawn, an expert in Texas barbecue, explained the food at Cooper’s. We saw huge vats of brisket, ribs, and chicken that had been smoked all day long. When you place your order, the meat is cut and trimmed as you watch. We all ordered brisket. Texas brisket is not prepared with a sauce but with a dry rub. You can order a thin sauce on the side. There are also side dishes such as cole slaw and beans, and desserts, a variety of crumbles. The meal melted in our mouths.

After dinner, we stepped outside the restaurant and were a few steps from the bridge. Many people stood atop the bridge, while others went under the bridge to the river level. We found steps leading down to the river. Although we saw a few bats, they were on the far side of the bridge. Somewhat disappointed, we decided to return the following night to book tickets on one of the boats we could see whose passengers were enjoying the view.

We walked back to our hotel. On each trip we forget something, and on this trip, I forgot to write down our steps on the previous day. This day’s total was about 19,000.



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