I want to start out by thanking y’all for your wonderfully kind compliments and words of encouragement. Y’all really know how to make a girl feel special : )
SOO, one of the best parts about being a teacher (besides how wonderfully rewarding it is, of course) are all the breaks. I’ve come to realize that they are very strategically placed throughout the year. What I mean is, just when you think you can’t stand hearing one more excuse from a student as to why they didn’t do their homework or why something isn’t fair, voilà, there’s a break. I’m kidding, of course, but it’s no joke that school breaks are the bomb.
I took full advantage of the most recent Winter Break. I celebrated my first night of freedom by going to the Joe Val Bluegrass festival in Framingham, Mass, to see my friend Bobby play fiddle with his pretty spectacular band called Town Mountain. Good ol’ boys playin’ good ol’ mountain music. If you haven’t listened to them, look em up on Spotify or iTunes. Guarantee you’ll like their tunes. Anyway, this was my second year at Joe Val, and I have to say, it is a scene like nothing I’ve witnessed before. Old, Yankee bluegrass fans who go goo goo over these Town Mountain boys, proudly representin’ the South. I’d upload a killer video of Bobby shreddin’ fiddle, but that would require an upgrade, which I can’t afford on a student teacher’s (lack of) salary.
Saturday morning at 6am I caught a flight to Austin, where desert and sunshine were anxiously awaiting me. I was meeting 3 girlfriends from Boston and one of their friends from Dallas (who I can now call my friend), but they weren’t in yet, so I called a buddy from college who I knew was in Austin celebrating a bachelor party. He and I caught up over a nice breezy brunch on a patio on South Congress St, before meeting the rest of the bachelor party at Cain and Able’s, a restaurant/bar on Lake Austin. Yep, me and a bachelor party. Needless to say, that was fun. And I was delighted to realize that the only shirt my buddy brought on the trip was one I’d given him a million years ago with the caricature of my uncle, the Magician. Here’s a pic. If anyone wants a shirt, lemme know, I’ll put in an order for ya.
My girls, Olga, Meg, Sally and Alyson arrived, which is when the party really began.
After a few hours of fun with the bachelor boys, and an adjacent table of guys wearing neon tank tops and stylin’ shades (they assured us they weren’t gay), we headed to our hotel to freshen up, during which time I entertained my girlfriends with my newly acquired ukulele skills. By that I mean I played the only four chords I’ve yet to learn. I played them over and over and over again while my friends tried to tune me out by cranking up Pandora’s “back that ass up” radio. Thanks for obliging me, ladies. All fresh and ready to go, we headed out to explore the famously fun city. I’d gotten a ton of recommendations from anyone and everyone who had heard I was going to Austin, so I felt pretty set on what to do. We started the evening with a pre-dinner cocktail at the Driskill Hotel.
I’m spoiled and bias when it comes to old, historic hotels but the Driskill, built in 1886, was an impressive sight to see. I do love a good brick and mortar piece of history! The hunting murals and taxidermy adorned walls in the bar area really set the Texas mood. After a martini…. or two (I’m not naming any names!) we headed off to Malagas, a highly recommended tapas bar, where we snagged flowers for our hair and Olga filled her purse with chocolate mints. Cured meat, cheese, wine, sangria, Texas martinis, a little Boston-bought bun I found in my purse, oh, and a salad for some greens….. did us right! Mmmm.
The night that followed was a fun filled, bar hoppin’ good time. I won’t go into details, but involved were a gay dance club, a faraway music hall, a row of watering holes in quaint little houses, and a few totally inappropriate taxi drivers, one who told us all about his sex life. Ew. I think I know who instigated that conversation…
I woke up, exhausted, at the crack a dawn on Sunday, but couldn’t go back to sleep. I thought about mastering those four chords but decided against it out of respect for my friends, so instead opted to go for a walk. The Austin Marathon just so happened to be going on, so I wasn’t the only person out and about at such an hour. I’ll tell ya though, nothin makes you feel more worthless after a night out on the town than a bunch of healthy, motivated marathoners. Ugh. I stood at the finish line for a bit and cheered on the stragglers, which somehow gave me a sense of accomplishment.
When the ladies woke up, we switched hotels (in order to get Alyson’s Hilton employee passport discount!) and went to South Congress St. to shop and explore. I really like South Congress. It’s a unique, artsy neighborhood overflowing with character: handmade craft vendors, food trucks, vintage clothes/boot-filled campers, cute restaurants and live music filling the air. We spent the afternoon perusing the area. We popped in a few boutiques, bought some jewelry, ate Tex-Mex and stuck out like sore thumbs at a motorcycle-style bar with an awesome old man electric band.
Everyone besides me had to wake up crazy early to fly back to Boston, so we decided to have an earlyish dinner and take it easy. We walked along 6th st, and had a beer at a bar with a one-man cover band and an enormous lite up American flag (not the same one as in the Faith Hill video, we later found out – but not before we mimicked her pose)
We devoured some tacos and enchiladas at the Iron Cactus (it was a Tex-Mex meal kinda day) and then fat, happy and sleepy, we headed home to eat ice cream in the hotel hot tub : )
Big fun in Texas!
Three back to Boston, one back to Dallas and one headed further West. California dreamin’
Winter Break, part two coming soon.