(Quote by Willie Nelson)
I am so lucky; I spent November in Austin. I had never been to Austin, but I suspected I would like it. In the late 90’s/early 2000’s, several Seattle friends in the Rockabilly scene moved there. It was as if Seattle and Austin were sister cities; whenever friends visited, they returned with glowing reports about how much I would enjoy it.
As if all Austin has to offer was not enough, I scheduled some serious socializing during my visit. Stephen and Kevin came from Houston for a weekend.
Blossom, the daughter of my former law partner and dear friend Rebecca, lives in Austin, and we hung out several times.
Blog reader turned friend Tammy also lives in Austin, and she showed me around, including music at Antone’s, and a lit crawl.
Michelle from Sacramento, whom I have known since college, came for a weekend; we toured the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum, sampled the Chef’s Menu at Barley Swine, and stomped our feet at a sacred Texas roadhouse.
Blog reader turned friend Rick visited from Wisconsin. He used to live in Austin. He introduced me to some of the best pizza I have ever eaten at Pieous, and invited me to a dinner party with some local Austin friends that was both stimulating and sublime.
The pups also got their socializing in at all the off-leash dog areas in the city, and a dog lounge/bar. I love a city that loves dogs.
The first two weeks I spent northwest of the city, at Emma Long Metropolitan Park.
It was a bit of a drive from the park to downtown Austin, but I came to know the neighborhoods and communities in the north end, including North Burnet, Allandale, and Rosedale. Staying north also made it a short drive to Georgetown, a charming, historic Texas town with a courthouse on the town square.
The last two weeks were spent at McKinney Falls State Park southeast of town, where I hosted Thanksgiving with Tammy and her daughter Jessica, food courtesy of Threadgills.
From the park it was a short drive to the shops, restaurants and bars of South Congress and the plethora of great restaurants on South First Street.
In many ways, Austin and Seattle are similar. Great food, including pop-ups and food trucks, breweries and distilleries, architectural preservation, rich history, live music, fun and funky people, liberal politics, tons of outdoor activities within a few minutes drive from the city, cool old neon – the list goes on and on.
There are many not-so-great ways that Austin and Seattle are also similar. Traffic. Homelessness. Sky-rocketing housing prices, fueled by a tech boom. Loss of identity and diversity due to hipster gentrification. During the lit crawl in East Austin I met a 35-year-old native, who lamented that so much of the city was losing its character. “Keep Austin Weird” nowadays is just a slogan to her. In her mind, chain stores are the norm, and artists are pushed out. She believes maybe one out of 10 people in the city are originally from the area.
Living in Seattle for over 20 years, I felt exactly the same way about the Emerald City. I fear we are homogenizing America. Unique cities and towns are disappearing – they all look the same. But, if you hunt for it, the distinct personality of Austin shines through, from its grand old hotels,
to its native (adopted) sons.
Its Texas heritage,
the Tex-Mex and barbecue,
and a spirit unlike any other Texas town.
I’ll definitely be back. November and December are a great time of year to be in Texas.