In the last couple of weeks, I've gotten to see a lot of family on the Cooper and Boka sides of the family.
My mom and my aunt Amanda visited July 30 - August 3 (Friday -Tuesday). My aunt Amanda is just 32 years old and we grew up more like sisters, so it was really fun to have her visit. Not that my mom isn't cool too. We all had a blast together! Also, some of the Boka clan was visiting from Ohio July 28 - August 4 (Wednesday - Wednesday). Was busy trying to catch up with everyone, but fun!
When Mom & Mandy got in, we went out for lunch at Chuy's Hula Hut, a great Mexinesian (Mexican/Polynesian) place on Lake Austin -- a place I've been visiting for almost a decade on my trips to Austin. Great mixed drinks, great food, great atmosphere. Then I drove them around central Austin, showing them the sights. We stopped at the Umlauf Sculpture Garden in Zilker Park, which is a great area to walk around and take in some great art. We also helped celebrate my friend Kristen's birthday that night with dinner at Max's Wine Dive downtown. Great wine selection and food.
Saturday, Mom & Mandy & I went to Burnet, TX to visit the Boka clan. Brian's uncle (and godfather) Mike, aunt Stephanie, and cousins Nick & Ryan were all in from Ohio and were in Burnet to visit Uncle Bruce & Aunt Kay. Bruce & Kay's whole clan was there too -- daughters, sons-in-law, grandkids, etc. Then another Boka cousin and his family came over, so it was a full house! That night, upon returning to Austin, I took Mom & Mandy to the Mean Eyed Cat, a Johnny Cash-themed bar that always has good live music and a laid back feel. We met Erin & Chad there (they live right next door). From there, we went to a 10:30 showing of Spiderman at the Alamo Drafthouse. You might be wondering why Spiderman was on at the movie theater...well, the cinema did a "Master Pancake" presentation of that movie, which means they had comedians mic'd up to ad lib lines, mock the acting and special effects, do skits, etc. There is always a drinking game involved in the Master Pancake showings, which is fun. By a fluke of luck, the theater was very full and we got to sit in the balcony on a loveseat with private drink and food service. It was pretty cool! Definitely a uniquely "Austin" thing to do, and I think my mom and aunt loved it. When the movie was over around 12:30 Saturday night/Sunday morning, they also go to see 6th Street in full swing.
Sunday, we went to San Marcos, which is about 35 minutes from my place. It has the best shopping I've ever experienced -- a Prime Outlet mall right next to a Tanger Outlet mall! They have a Cavender's (cowboy boots), Old Navy, 2 Banana Republic stores, Aldo, Betsey Johnson, Michael Kors, Tory Burch, Gucci, Prada, Kate Spade, Coach, Bath Junkie, Bath & Body Works, Victoria's Secret, Dooney & Bourke, Levi, Gap, DKNY, etc.....but I digress....that night, we met up with the Bokas to watch the bats fly out from under the Congress Avenue bridge. Unfortunately, the bats waited until after dark to come out, so it wasn't the spectacle it typically is, but it was still neat. Then we went to Gourdough's, a trailer that sells gourmet donuts and which was featured on Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations. Mandy got the Flying Pig, which is a donut with maple frosting and bacon. Mom got one that was all chocolate and coconut. I made up my own donut that had raspberry jelly, cream cheese, honey butter, and candian bacon. Hey, don't knock it 'til you try it! They were outstanding!
Monday, we slept in and didn't do anything until lunch. We went to Juan in a Million, a Mexican place a few blocks from my apartment that has been featured on Man vs. Food. After a tasty lunch, we went to the Museum of the Weird, a little stop on 6th Street that has things like shrunken heads, mermaid bodies, and mummies. Totally up our quirky alley and definitely reminded me of a place Mandy & I would have gone on vacation with Mommo & Poppo (her parents and my grandparents -- I vacationed with them all the time when we were younger). Then we went shopping on South Congress, and this included a stop at a soda fountain/weird candy store called Big Top, which was also recently featured on a Food Network show! That night, we actually just ate leftovers from all our meals out and enjoyed some wine and weird candy from Big Top.
On Tuesday, we took our cameras to Walgreens to get pictures developed and albums of the trip made, just so they pictures would ever leave our cameras and computers! After going out for lunch in the UT campus area, I took them to the airport. After that, I headed to San Antonio to meet up with Brian's cousin and her family, and the Ohio clan for dinner one more time before the Ohio group flew out on Wednesday. Wednesday morning, I took the Ohio clan to the San Antonio airport, met a friend in S.A. for coffee, did a little shopping, then met the S.A. cousins and some other Boka cousins (Brent & Heather and their daughters, Leah & Savannah) for lunch. Whew! Lot of family time squeezed into a week! Then, I went to the McNay Art Museum, a hidden gem in San Antonio. I went there alone and spent over two and a half hours there! I was just enthralled with the works and the selection of great artists who have pieces there -- O'Keeffe, Degas, Picasso, Monet, Pisarro, Diego Rivera. The museum itself is beautiful and has an interesting history. There are courtyards, fountains, and sculptures all over the grounds, and I was able to enjoy the outdoor areas even after the museum closed.
Then, it was back to Austin, but not for too long. I took a quick trip to Dallas this past weekend (a couple days ago) to visit my friend Erin, who is a yoga instructor there, and her husband. I went to one of her classes, a 90 minute hot yoga session -- wow! What a workout! Then we went to a party at the house of Erin & Garrett's friends, who they met at Iowa State. One thing I love about Texas is that it's full of people from the Midwest, so you don't have to go far for Midwestern charm and friendliness!
Now, I'm finally back "home" in Austin, but not for long!! I am packing up, as my summer here draws to an end, and I'll be leaving here on Thursday (the 12th). I'll get home (to my house in Waukee, Iowa) on Friday the 13th.
I'll try to post once or twice more before leaving for Iowa, but in case I get too busy....thanks for reading about my Texas adventures! I will be keeping this blog up and going for the indefinite future, so keep reading!