Late in the week we’d connected with Dave again and arranged to meet at their place on Saturday to ride our bikes on the north section of the Salado Creek Greenway. We arrived late in the morning and after unloading the bikes from the car took off to ride the few blocks to the entrance to the greenway. It was a nice day, slightly cool, the recent rainstorms having washed out the humidity, great riding weather.
This would be a leisurely ride; one of the things I like best about cycling is its ability to morph to suit your mood. You can go it alone and ride hard or wander about slowly taking in the sights as I have down near our house in Venice. You can ride with a group, socializing if you’d like or using strong riders to pull you along and make you ride harder than you’d planned.
The miles flew by in a blur as Dave and I rode side by side, talking about our travels, his next assignment in New York City (monitoring some training on an army base), and his upcoming wedding to Jesse in June. Before we knew it we’d hit the end of the greenway and turned around to head back to the house. Along the way Dave suggested we stop for lunch and asked if BBQ was OK and thus settled pulled off at a fairly new restaurant right alongside the greenway, Blanco BBQ.
It’s a nice sized concern with a good offering of BBQ options. Joanna and I split a Chicken and Rib combo with sides of Cole Slaw and Mac & Cheese. The ribs were nicely done and the chicken cooked just right except it had a spicy rub that while tasty, grew overbearing as we consumed more of the meat. The sides were respectable; although no Mac & Cheese could come close to the expensive but multi-mega-cheese-a-licious serving we had at Bohanan’s.
Full of good food, we returned to the house, loaded the bikes on the car and drove back to camp, wishing Jesse and Dave a fond farewell and best of luck on their upcoming nuptials. At the KOA I cleaned up and then drove into town in order to partake of the festivities of the last night of the conference, finding parking just a block away from the hotel. Having seen what the Marriott’s drink prices were like, $10 glasses of wine at the cash bar, I’d picked up a bottle each of red and white for Jim and I to enjoy before and during dinner.
We had a glass apiece in the room while dressing, and then made our way to the annual invite only reception known as Wine, Wit, and Wisdom put on by the folks that operate Freshens and other food concepts on campuses. This is always a nice affair, with good but inexpensive wines to sample, a little bit of food and a knowledgeable host to help us understand the merits of what we were drinking. The final banquet was like all such affairs, long but ultimately enjoyable as you bid farewell to folks for another year. Each one of these could be my last so I make sure to see those people that have meant much to me during my career.
With a short drive of an hour or so up to Austin the next day, Sunday, we dawdled a bit in camp, enjoying a breakfast from the Chuckwagon, Joanna a breakfast taco and I scrambled eggs, bacon and pancakes. With a cup of coffee the tab ran to just $8.15, prices so reasonable you could eat there each morning. We’d be dodging rain for the next couple of days and it really came down that morning. As we huddled underneath the patio cover waiting out the deluge so we could head back to the cabin and our car, we were doubly glad that we didn’t have to break camp, wet tent and all, that particular morning.
The drive to Austin went smoothly but we did run into a bit of a backup approaching the outskirts of town; this would become a common theme during our stay, Austin’s notorious traffic. Like so many cities in the west, Phoenix and Houston to name two (and Charlotte as we’ve come to discover), the automobile is king with little or no focus placed on establishing a transit system. This works until the population starts to increase and the reality soon becomes that you cannot ever build enough roads to solve your transportation issues.
Just south of downtown we pulled off the highway and drove about five miles to McKinney Falls State Park, our home for the next five nights. We’d originally planned to spend four nights here and then move on to Memphis and Nashville, but Joanna’s Mother’s pending move to Charlotte required that we cut the trip short, and we discovered that we enjoyed Austin so much it was worth staying an extra night.
We set up camp in a nice site; one of the only two occupied in our loop it being pretty early in the season. Our new tent went up easily and we would get a chance to test out its integrity when a couple of storms passed through later in the week. As with North Carolina State campgrounds, the ones in Texas forbid the consumption of alcohol and so one must be discrete if they are to imbibe. The strategic use of koozies and sixteen ounce Tervis Tumblers ensures that our illicit ingestion would go unnoticed.
We’d agreed to meet up with Mark and Roberta the next day, Monday and so enjoyed the opportunity to just relax in camp. We had one last big can of Cassoulet that we’d purchased in France (always carry one big can of some stew like concoction in your camp gear), which meant we didn’t have to go to the store to get dinner. We cooked it up and accompanied it with some crackers and cheese we’d brought from home, washing it down with some local Texas beers we’d picked up earlier in the week.
It felt good to be back in camp, something we’d missed doing given our many days (65% of our time) of camping in Europe. To enjoy that Cassoulet, one last connection to the trip brought it home that we’d have to work diligently to create new adventures to rival last year’s trip. It felt like San Antonio and Austin would help to provide that adventure. The next couple of days would provide the answer.
Blanco BBQ: http://blancobbq.com/
Tervis Tumblers: http://www.tervis.com/