Austin — and STAPLE!

Spent a long weekend outside and then in Austin. STAPLE! (all caps and exclamation theirs; I'm not shouting) is a small-press show that we heard about a couple years back at SPACE* and have been trying to get to ever since. Monica's aunt and uncle Carol and Doug also have a house outside Austin that we've been meaning to see for years. So when Monica discovered ExpressJet and their nonstop service to Austin, we were set.

An uneventful departure on Thursday, except for Monica sawing her thumb open cutting our bagels, and including a quick stop by Jeff's to get some last-minute comics from the group. Into Austin by around 2:00; figure about an hour-and-a-half from our door to the airport gate, and about that long in the air. We hit the road out to Hill Country and Doug + Carol's.

Carol met us at a store in the town nearby, then guided us the last 20 or so minutes on the backroads to their place. It's on (a lot of) land they starting buying years and years ago, finally custom-designing and building their own house. We began with our tour of that, which we'd seen in photos. It's a beautiful, open structure, built for entertaining and guests. There's one central space with a big, long kitchen and kitchen bar along one side, living and dining areas along the other. One half of the house has the guest rooms, the other their area, including the wine cellar. (All photographed the next day, when it was cloudy; click for larger.)


We chose a room at that opens on to the deck out back. And then we were off on a tour to the barn area, driving down the twisty dirt road (and catching a glimpse of Lance Armstrong's land). We met their horse Hawk and his two donkeys, Daryl and Daryl (Gray Daryl and Brown Daryl).


They followed us as Carol showed us the creek that runs there, the swimming hole, and then they stayed behind as we saw the older cabin they used to live in on the weekends while clearing and building. Feeding time, and getting the donkeys back across the creek and Hawk away from the fresh grass was a bit of work, but Carol rounded them up.

We headed back up to the house to feed the cows, and then inside to socialize, joined in the evening by Doug. He selected a terrific wine from his collection and set about preparing our bacon-wrapped grilled tenderloin, as we sat at the kitchen bar. Their setup is a terrific idea, and ideal for such great cooks and entertainers. We visited for a while into the night.

When I got out of bed the next morning, Doug had already left for work and Carol wasn't in the main room — but Hawk was at the door.

Carol soon joined us, got me to feed Hawk a carrot, then made a great big, hearty breakfast. While we washed up, she set about currying Hawk. And then retrieved the saddle to set us up for a little riding. We've each only been on a horse a couple of times in our lives. And Hawk knew it. He was grumpy about having to work and was taking advantage of our lack of experience. But Carol taught us, reasoned with Hawk, and we got to trot around the house a few times. It was good fun, and he's a real character, and we got to reward him with some grain at the end of it.


A brief lunch of some wild hog, courtesy of a neighbor, and then we were off to the city. But first, a giant nose picture of Hawk.

The drive in took some time, with traffic and kind of confusing highways and interchanges. But we made it to the hotel, right across from the STAPLE! venue. Dropped our stuff and sought out something to do, deciding on heading to Zilker Park. Our plan was to see Barton Springs and what that is all about, but wound up just parking and walking along the exercise trail by the river, ducking down to the water at one point to see the wading birds and rowers.

It was soon dinner time, so on Marc's recommendation, we went down the street a bit to Shady Grove and set up out on the patio for the evening. It's probably really great when there's live music, but we passed an enjoyable evening, luckily having chosen a spot by the bar under an overhang, so when the brief rains came, we didn't have to call it a night. Lingered a bit, then went on to the STAPLE! pre-party at Austin Books.


It's a huge (by Santa Fe standards) shop in the midst of an expansion, and we got to socialize a bit before heading out.

Saturday morning, we were off to the show. Setup went pretty quickly and we were all ready when the doors opened.

There was a steady stream of folks later in the day — we were cautioned that the crowds really don't pick up until after lunch (which makes sense in a city where one of the main attractions is the night life). Managed to get away and check out some of the other vendors and make some sales, even right up to the end. And were too busy to get a lot of photos, but plenty of folks are posting to Flickr if you're interested: here, here, and here (and our meager contribution here).

We still had momentum from the day and headed right back out to get some barbecue for dinner — and the recommended stop was Iron Works Barbecue. Good stuff on a patio right by the river. And that took us up to the afterparty nearby at Red's Scoot Inn. We hung out there, visited with some local artists that we didn't get to meet at the show, and stayed for the DJ and live art show for a while before calling it a night.


Because we spotted a donut shop on the drive home, Sunday morning was donuts and packing. We drove off to the University of Texas area to kick around for a bit. We wandered the campus, looking for the information center, but even that gets a late start at noon. So walked along "The Drag:" Guadalupe Street.

Found a place for some lunch, then went back to the campus to get tickets for the Tower tour (yes, that tower). At 1:00, the student tour guides gave us a history of the building, built in the late '30s, it was the library for around 40 years.

Students would request books on the first floor, and graduate students would (allegedly) roller skate around on the floors above, sending the books back down via dumbwaiter. And, as they noted, the tower itself complies with the law that states that no tower can be taller than the state capitol building, but it's constructed on higher land so that it's "not one, but two" (counting on the forefinger and pinkie to make the Longhorns' horns) "feet taller." It also houses a carillon, and until the carilloneur's recent retirement, he would entertain the students regularly with a selection of current and/or topical selections.

It was windy up there, a bit cooler than the ground. We were allowed to wander around for about a half-hour.


With just a little bit of time before we had to go to the airport, we stopped by the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library. Construction around the area made entry difficult and time-consuming, but we got a few minutes to poke around, including in the 7/8 scale replica of the Oval Office.

Back to the airport, a little more barbecue for dinner, and home. We left a cloudy, windy day — but muggy, maybe a bit cool for t-shirt weather, but you'd be OK. We returned to blowing snow.


During our weekend away, Joan and Ken arrived in town. They're housesitting for J+J for a week or so. They're taking M+D's place because of M's hip replacement surgery yesterday morning. Everything went fine there and she continues to do well.

So, after showing the house, we went off to dinner with them at the bar at Ristra. We had a fun time out, visiting and talking. It's great to see them out here and we and look forward to catching up with them some more in the next few days.

* SPACE was going on this same weekend. While we were off in Austin, Matt and Carol were busy winning the Day Prize.


paulbob said...

B & M:

Excellent post about the trip to Austin. A co-worker is from there and recognized many of the pix, so I guess your story checks out.

Looks like fun! Maybe a future Memphis-like weekend raid?


Bram said...

Well, we're definitely going back…hopefully before next year's event.

Raphael Della Ratta said...

No wine cellar pix ?!

andy said...

XJT...they only cost me money. When Continental fires you, you know you're in trouble.

M got a hip replacement? Hope recovery is going well.

Bram said...

Yeah, I didn't have the camera when we got the wine cellar tour. And I failed to get any shots of the vineyard on the gray day. Oops.


M had her surgery on Monday, and today transferred to a rehab center. She's doing really well and will be there for about a week.