When I remember Austin, Texas, the first thing that comes to mind is this picture, which, to me, is Erin's interpretation of my French iPod Shuffle, Jean-Louis. "Oui, oui, I vill play zees song for joo, but only eef joo rrrespect me moostache. Vat do you mean, it iz no genuine? Iz so very ausentique! I iz enraged by jur inzinuations! Iz no moar gonna work for joo, joo smarmy eembeseel!"
That's exactly what Jean-Louis sounds like. Well, if he could talk, it's what he'd sound like. And he'd definitely have a vegetable mustache, just like Erin. Why am I talking about an inanimate object, you ask? Well...I don't know...it's just what came to mind when I saw this picture. In all reality, what comes to mind when I remember Austin has NO connection to my iPod Shuffle, especially since I don't even think I brought him along and we certainly didn't use him.
What I ACTUALLY think of is Cathy, warmth, riverside beauty, music, and hats (we'll get to that tomorrow). Of course, we started out doing some sightseeing in Denton, after some sleeping in and showering at Katrina's (which felt wonderful, by the way). After we gathered ourselves together and packed up Katrina's car (a very nice change), she gave us a little driving tour of her town and the school. First stop was Rudy's. He makes breakfast tacos with barbecued beef brisket. Well, I don't know if Rudy actually makes them anymore, but his fine establishment sure does. Rudy has an outdoor seating area where we had much fun pretending we were Jack from Jack and the Beanstalk. Apparently, Rudy is rather...over-sized. Must be all those delicious, meaty breakfast tacos. We would've eaten in his lovely and large outdoor dining room if it hadn't been for the cold front that had consumed the usually warm Dallas weather right before we arrived. Instead, we pretended a bit, then headed inside for some breakfast.
Dr. Pepper (from glass bottles, no less) and soft tacos with eggs, cheese, and BBQ beef brisket. Mmmm. There is no better combination. Seriously, Erin and I each got three tacos--against our better judgment. Turns out, we really should've listened to our better judgment, because we waddled out of there with extreme caution, worrying that we might bump into door frames or elbows and explode. Thankfully, we managed to maneuver our way out the doors without any such unfortunate incidents, but we remained in something of a food coma for several hours.
Which is why it was good that Katrina was driving. After Rudy's, we drove around Denton and she showed us U of NT and the various places she hangs out (including Sweetwater, which, as it turned out, has no affiliation with the Great American Restaurants). We ended up at Starbucks (shocking!), because I needed to do some online research regarding travel times to Arizona and various California locations, as we had yet to find out whether or not we had a place to stay in Flagstaff. Besides, we, er, needed more coffee. Finally, we decided it was high time we hit the road. We'd told Cathy we'd be leaving around 11 or so. Which we did. In Pacific Standard Time, anyway. Heading down I35, not long after we'd gotten out of Dallas, Katrina and I heard exclamations of dismay and horror from Erin, who was in the back seat. "My phone!! It's broken!!! The flip part fell off and I can't get it back on!" she wailed, as we sailed down the freeway. "Everyone's gonna be like, 'See, I told you that would happen. You shouldn't have gotten a flip phone.' Man, this sucks!!"
Erin glares from the back seat, after throwing her broken phone out the window. She'd just gotten a text message after she'd let go and was angry with herself for her impetuosity. Now she'll never know who loved her enough to text her, nor what important insight they felt impelled to send to her phone. Next time, Erin, I'm putting on the child safety locks.
As it turns out, however, the phone still works fine. She just runs a greater risk of calling people with her pockets now. At the time, however, she was inconsolable until I handed her the Nintendo DS. This item is an excellent adult pacifier. She muttered to herself happily the rest of the trip, huddled over the screen, completely unaware of the beauty passing by us.
Well, actually, she did look up long enough to notice we had pulled into a Starbucks in Waco, TX. I, having certain bladderly needs, had requested a potty break, and we just so happened to see a sign for Starbucks. This turned out to be rather fortuitous, despite Erin's rude comments about me always having to pee. She is NOW quite grateful for my above average abilities. While we were chatting it up with all the baristas, I turned to Katrina and said, "Hey, check out that guy's hair! That's awesome!!" We were in there long enough for him to overhear our conversation with other baristas about where we were from, and he complimented Erin's hair, which made it all worthwhile in her opinion, since everything is always about her. Even more fortuitous it was that he was getting off work, which allowed us to hold him captive for one of our "Starbucks # fifty billion" pictures (now, with real baristas!) and lure him into our company with our stunning conversational abilities enough to delude him into thinking we might actually have something worthwhile to say. Poor guy, he never even knew what hit him. Before he knew it, he was sitting at one of the outdoor tables with us as Erin regaled him with descriptions of her musical talent and I nodded in agreement (hey, she may be vain, but I'm still loyal). Jacob, poor unsuspecting barista that he is, actually allowed us to friend him on Facebook and demanded that we put his picture up. Not that he really had a choice in the matter (hahaha, no one can foil Erin and Susi's evil plan to take over the world!).
In all seriousness, we had a blast hanging out with our new-found friend. He was engaging and funny and a great sport. He and Erin agreed to collaborate musically, something Erin has been wanting to do forever (if she could just shove her huge ego out of the way). They decided they'd model themselves after The Postal Service, to which I responded that they should call themselves UPS. Reasoning that perhaps they weren't quite at UPS level, they decided on DHL--Jacob's idea, I should add. Anyway, we ended up talking for well over an hour, and finally pulled ourselves away guiltily when we realized it was 4 p.m., and we still had at least an hour and a half before we'd get to Austin, where poor Cathy was patiently waiting for us. Sorry, Cathy! Erin and I are suckers for cool hair...
The sun was showing off as we rolled into the outskirts of Austin, amidst rush hour commuters and Motel 6 signs, which dotted the free way every five miles or so, the nightly rate increasing by several dollars as we neared the center of the city. I used the spare time in the traffic to snap some sunset shots and ogle the sky.
So we finally arrived at Cathy's, ready for adventure. And food. By this time, Rudy's tacos were but a hazy memory and our stomachs demanded something besides the gallons of coffee we'd offered them. We walked down to 6th Street, apparently the famous street for restaurants and clubs and music. Unfortunately, our options were actually pretty limited. Tuesdays aren't a big party night, I guess. Who knew? We lucked out though. There was this cozy little Irish pub with a live band that wasn't so loud you couldn't hear yourself think, so we settled in for some fantabulous grilled cheese, Shiner Bock, and tunes. The band, although a cover band, were actually really good and mellow. The sax player was great, plus he looked like Don Knotts. Which is always in a person's favor. Sometimes I wish I looked like Don Knotts.
The guitarist reminded me of my friend Bradley. Not because he looked like him. He looked nothing like him. But he played guitar like him: really well--with style and skill. I texted Bradley, telling him where I was and knowing he'd appreciate it. Erin, operating under the assumption that I was at a loss for how to respond to the text he sent me, decided to take it upon herself to respond for me. This was great, since she said exactly what I had wanted to say--although I pretended to be upset: "When I dream at night I dream of goats and they remind me of our friendship and the moon and corn on the cob which I ingest with much zeal." How did she know?? Have we really been together so long that she can truly read my mind?
Erin demonstrates that she DOES know how to take pretty pictures of other people, when obliged to do so.
Shortly thereafter, Katrina and I realized we were twins. So we made Erin take a picture of us, which was hard, because she hates taking pictures if she's not in them. Somehow, we finally managed to get her to cooperate, and we had to snatch the camera out of her hand before she could delete this one, since she also hates any picture in which anyone else looks cute. I had to make amends by taking a really hot picture of her delighting in the Guinness ice cream/brownie dessert she reluctantly shared with me. Needless to say, the results were much to liking and she insisted that I post this picture last, so that everyone would remember how hot she is:
Erin being hot with the dessert.
After dinner, we walked back to Cathy's place, catching a night view of the city skyline across the river once we got back to her apartment, which is right on the water. Katrina and Erin were sleepy (Erin's always sleepy. She says that's how princesses keep their good looks), so they quickly collapsed on the air mattress and began a long night of loud snoring, which Erin tells me, is also a necessary attribute of beautiful people. Against the backdrop rumble of zzz's, Cathy and I stayed up until at least 1 a.m., and we had a wonderful heart to heart. It was just like old times. I love Cathy. She's always real with you, very authentic, very wise, very easy to engage in meaningful conversation. I love her down-to-earth insights and that ubiquitous sense of humor that peppers her conversation. Cathy helps me laugh about things, she helps me find humor in everything. I love her attitude toward life. Finally, we went to bed, I on the couch (glad to escape the air mattress, which Erin claims is the only way to get a good night's sleep), and Cathy in her bed--all of us snuggled up in the little but charming studio apartment she calls home. I fell asleep to thoughts of our conversation and wonderings as to what the next day would hold for us.