Thursday, January 5, 2017

Christmas on the Bayou & New Year's in Austin!


Where has the time flown?!  Other than my Christmas wish list, I haven't posted since before Thanksgiving!  With the holidays & poor weather, the boat projects have taken a brief pause and we spent both Thanksgiving & Christmas day in the hills of Mississippi at my brother's house.  We also checked out the New Orleans' boat parade, which was a first for us.  The lights reflecting on the water were so pretty!


Check out this guy in the glowing green suit! What's that thingy called that pushes you up with water?  Santa was behind him running the show.  There were also a few other "Santas" that were lit up and paddleboarding .. a really festive night!


We also went to a party at a friends house for "Santa on the Bayou".  Santa & his elves made their stops at the docks and gave gifts to the kiddos .. in exchange for some "spirits" & Christmas cheer!



Christmas Eve was spent at our daughter & son-in-law's house .. drinking wine, watching Saints football, baking tons of cookies n fudge, and eating a brisket dinner.  We miss having a real house sometimes, and it was so nice to relax with our "kids" and our "grandkids" .. the two dogs!  They're a mess! 


We played Santa to ourselves and took advantage of some really good deals on our wish list .. binoculars, a stainless nesting pot set, an Aquabot, a handheld compass & an inflatable kayak!  All of this was under $250 bucks!  We also bought some micro-fiber fabric to re-cover the salon cushions, a stainless sink for the head, & faucets for the head & galley ... all on sale!  To get free shipping, we threw in a flexible cutting board & a fillet knife.  It really did feel like Christmas around here!


With winter weather & living in a tiny condo, we were itching to get away again.  We decided to get away for New Year's and came up with Austin, TX.  We chose Austin because we'd never been before, could drive in about 8 hours & we found a great deal at Habitat Suites that would allow us to invite our daughter & son-in-law.  For $89 bucks a night, we all got free wine, beer & snacks every night, made-to-order breakfast every morning, and had a kitchen & den to spread out.  You know we always find the deals, and we'd definitely recommend this place!

We arrived just in time for the hotel's happy hour, then we hit downtown's 6th St. It reminded me of Bourbon St with the bars, restaurants, shops & music.  I have to admit .. without the strip clubs it seemed much nicer, and cleaner!  The view of the capitol was pretty too ...


The next day was kinda dreary, so we checked out another area of Austin that had all sorts of cool shops .. and graffiti.








We took a tour of the capitol .. the door hinges were huge!  A sign of the times .. while waiting in line to get inside, we noticed a cardboard package just sitting on the side of the steps.  We all looked at each other as the folks in front of us also noticed .. should we call those bicycle cops over?!  The guy in front of us slowly walked over to it and discovered it was open and full of drink glasses.  Whew!


We then headed over to Jester King's farmhouse brewery in the Texas Hill Country. We took a tour of this authentic farmhouse brewery, which was pretty interesting. It's a bit different than the sterile environment of our local Abita Brewery! As night descended, we tried a few brews & enjoyed the cafe lights outside while sitting inside a huge barn & meeting new people.  I enjoyed the "Figlet" brew!  The place also sold home-made pizza, which smelled so good, but we held out for bbq at the "County Line" afterwards .. recommended by a new friend in the pizza barn. I wish I would've gotten some night pictures .. it was a really cool setting with the hills, brew house, barn, outdoor seating and cafe lights.


The next morning, New Year's Eve day, started with a visit to Gourdough's food truck.  Our son-in-law heard about these awesome donuts, and they did not disappoint.  Donuts topped with all sorts of sinful toppings .. we don't have this in New Orleans!  Here's one with cream cheese icing, bananas, caramel, pecans & graham crackers.  The other is topped with cream cheese icing, bacon, strawberry jalapeno jelly, & candied jalapenos .. OMG!


We needed to burn off some of that food, so we decided to another recommendation of our barnhouse friend and check out Mt. Bonnell.  At only 0.3 miles, this is a short & easy hike that overlooks the Colorado River. However, there is a 200 ft. elevation gain from bottom to top and it rises 775 feet, making this the highest point in Austin and providing gorgeous views of "Hill Country" & downtown Austin.  Ken being silly ...



We stopped to enjoy the views of the river and the houses, and by the time we got to the top the sun came out for the rest of the day!  Yeah, her eyes were closed .. 



After all that strenuous hiking, we were thirsty!  While in Austin, a "Facebook" follower recommended that we check out the Oasis on Lake Travis. We hadn't heard of this place, but it looked cool .. it turned out to be a great recommendation!  We chose the Oasis Texas Brewery over the restaurant, and enjoyed a flight of beers while overlooking the lake on our last day of 2016. We felt like we were on the islands instead of Texas!



We then headed to the Rainey St. Historic District, which is a bunch of renovated houses that are now restaurants & bars. Our son-in-law had found this on the internet .. what would we do without it? We had a few beers and some sausage at Banger's ... oh, the food here in Austin is so good, but so bad!  The area was really cool & quaint.

After a rest at the hotel, we headed to downtown for the fireworks show on the waterfront ... Happy New Year!



We heard it was storming, not raining, on New Year's Eve & Day back home in New Orleans .. so glad we had good weather in Austin!

The next morning we did something we hadn't anticipated .. the "Polar Bear Splash" in Barton Springs!  Yep, we jumped in the 68 degree springs to start off 2017 with a splash!  Our kids had mentioned it, and when we realized they were serious .. we had to do it.  Well .. I had to do it, but Ken didn't need much arm-twisting.  The springs in Zilker's Park were beautiful with clear water, hills & views of downtown in the background.


Things could have been worse than sun & temps in the high 60's .. we were glad this wasn't up North!  We got really lucky with the weather, but some locals said it actually feels colder in the Summer.  The water was cold, but nothing we wouldn't do again.  We were really glad we did this!  Surprisingly, we weren't freezing when we got out. I guess our bodies were used to the cold water.




We packed a lot into this short trip!  We arrived Thursday night and left just after the "splash" on Sunday morning, New Year's day.  We hated to come home to storms that night and the next day.  Where can we go next?!

We really enjoyed our first visit to Austin!  Like most big cities, it has its share of problems with the homeless so be prepared to be asked for money when downtown.  However, the hippie vibe mixed with downtown, the Capitol, breweries, "Hill Country", parks, springs, lakes, lots of great bbq and TONS of food trucks serving some awesome looking food .. what's not to like?!  Like Miami, there was even bike stations throughout downtown and the park.  If we'd have had more time we would have loved to bike ride for a day .. guess we'll need to go back sometime.

We are so thankful for our family and the adventures we've had! We are really looking forward to what 2017 will bring. We wish all of you a healthy & happy 2017 .. and thanks for following along with us!

Hasta luego ... until then.  Mid-Life Cruising!
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