austin: day three.

I woke up feeling like death (sadly, not self-induced): sore throat, achey body, gross.  Thankfully there was little time to feel poorly.  We had lots to do and not a whole lotta time.

First up: San Antonio.

We hopped in our badass car and traveled about an hour south of Austin.  Minus Cheryl and the strangely named streets and towns, there was little to keep my interest — needless to say I was happy to land in San Antonio.

The River Walk was gorgeous — a muddy meandering river through a piles and piles of cute restaurants and shops.  The people watching and the warm breeze were just about perfect.  We grabbed a quick lunch on our way out at one of the restaurants situated right on the water: Casa Rio.  It was admittedly not the best food we’ve ever had, but it did the trick and gave us the chance to relax and take in the sites before the drive back.

Second stop: Amy’s Ice Cream.

I ordered a small mocha cream + white chocolate caramel.  Cheryl had the mocha cream with a Twix mix in (good thinking!).  The mocha cream was to die for.  The white chocolate caramel I could have done without.

We still had some time to kill before the kayak tour, so naturally, we decided to shop.

Shop Stops:

Stag:  hands down, the most amazing men’s store I’ve ever laid feet in.  It was like Blackbird on crack.

Blackmail:  a shop that’s guaranteed to take your breath away the second you walk through the door.  It’s a boutique owned by Gail Chovan — give her a google.  She hand makes clothes right there in her shop (like while you’re shopping, she’s over there stitching and measuring and sketching and making magic).  We started chatting with her and mentioned that we were from Seattle.  She said she was a friend of Curtis Steiners and asked if we’d been to his Ballard store (indeed, we had). We started chatting about amazing shops in Seattle and of course our dear Susan Wheeler came up.  She said, “Oh, yes! I just met her at such and such and she was begging me to come do a trunk show in Seattle!”  We urged her to do so as well (remember this story if you read about our flight home!).

Uncommon Objects:  jaw-dropping, eye-boggling, I-want-one-of-everything goodness.  It’s Pacific Galleries meets Susan Wheeler meets an old general store warehouse.  You could spend months wandering the store and still not see everything.

On our way to meet up for the kayak tour, we decided to take a quick detour through Travis Heights (the east side of Congress).  Cheryl says this is where we’ll live when we relocate to Austin.  It was very quiet, very well kept, and very diverse.  The homes in Austin are interesting — no two the same (at least where we were).  Nobody has yards (that would break my heart).

And then, just like that, it was finally time for the bat tour!

We met our group (and our ridiculously cool “guide”/owner of Live Love Paddle, Casey) behind Joe’s Crab Shack.  We dropped our kayaks into Lady Bird Lake (formerly Town Lake) just before sunset and paddled west toward the Congress Bridge.

While the main attraction was the bats, the view of the skyline from the water alone made this trip worth every penny.  The water was glassy, the sun was orange, and everything within it’s reach was glowing.

We paddled under the bridge where you could hear a million little squeaks, but couldn’t see a thing.  Apparently there was a stench, but I was unable to catch a whiff (maybe because I was sick, maybe because it doesn’t bother some people).  Cheryl could definitely smell it.  Once we were on the west side of the bridge, Casey rattled off just about every bat fact one could ever want to hear (I read about them before we left, so I sort of tuned him out and focused on taking pictures — sorry!).  And then the sun went behind the horizon and we hauled ass back to the eastside of the bridge.  No more than 30 seconds after we slowed, a flood of nearly two million bats started pouring out bridge.  It was like clouds of smoke, drifting off into the east.  Waves, and waves, and waves of bats.  Unlike anything I’d ever seen.  The best part?  It started “raining” and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.  Bat guano — like little summer raindrops.  EVERYWHERE!

The whole evacuation lasted about a half an hour.  It was completely dark by the time we started our paddle back.  Minus the skyline, all that was visible were the glow sticks around our necks.  No one talked…it was quite peaceful.

Food was high on our list of priorities when we finished the tour (it was a couple of hours).  We decided to give Home Slice a try (we’d walked by it a handful of times).  Although the place was packed, we scored two seats at the kitchen bar right off the bat (ha, right off the bat).  We ordered the margarita pizza and a side of marinara (just to taste).  DE-LISH.  The crust was perfect.  The pizza itself was simple and fresh and loaded with basil.  The marinara (which did not come on our pizza) was heaven.  Maybe some of the best I’ve had.  Not too sweet, not too salty — the perfect marriage of tomatoes and spices.  I’d eat that meal over again in a second!

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