Day Trip: Austin (2016.04.19)

City Of Austin Power
The old Seaholm Power Plant, with new residential high-rises beyond it
(Copyright © 2016 by Wil C. Fry. Some rights reserved.)

The Cheesecake Factory, Austin
(Copyright © 2016 by Wil C. Fry.)

It began a couple of weeks ago, when my wife learned that one of her cousins will soon move from Attleboro, Mass. (a suburb of Providence, R.I.) to Austin, Texas, along with his wife and son. And not just “a” cousin, but the godfather of our son Benjamin. Then a few days ago, we learned he was coming to Austin for a couple of days to look for an apartment. We tentatively scheduled a meetup, then made it more specific. My wife and I found a good place to eat near their hotel, and a few other things to do afterward.

At the last minute, it turned out the cousin and wife wouldn’t be able to meet with us, but since we had already decided to go to Austin for the day, we went anyway. Chances are, we passed within a 100 yards of my wife’s cousin and never knew it.

My Smokehouse BBQ Burger
(Copyright © 2016 by Wil C. Fry.)

Having earlier decided to treat the cousin and wife to The Cheesecake Factory (at the Arboretum), we had already been looking forward to that, so we ate there for lunch. The last time I ate at The Cheesecake Factory was seven years ago, with M and my parents in Oklahoma City.

The children were magically not hungry, as they often are when we spend extra for their food. It is their calling to perplex us and they are excellent at their jobs. I ordered the Smokehouse BBQ burger, which is about 1,760 calories (1,380, according to another site — the restaurant itself does not make this information available, for obvious reasons). It was delicious. Afterward, I ordered the 1,680-calorie Chocolate Tower Truffle Cake™, which I did not expect to be so large. As my wife shook her head in disbelief, and as I felt myself getting buzzed from the sugar, I ate as much as I could — about two-thirds of it. The taste was heavenly. (I did not eat supper that evening, because I was still completely full. In fact, I wasn’t hungry again until lunch the next day.) RnB finished my cake — because I didn’t want it to go to waste.

We boxed up the kids’ meals to take home (and later forced them to eat it for supper), and walked down to the Arboretum’s pond, which was beautiful — though places were muddy due to the excessive rains of the past several days. A woman and two small boys were tossing bread to the ducks. Adult ducks were watching from a distance while they allowed their babies to gather around the humans for food. I assume they’ve trained their babies to get food this way. We walked around the pond, and then up a rock-paved trail and back, and had a generally good time. It was cloudy and upper 60s.

At The Arboretum
The pond at the Arboretum
(Copyright © 2016 by Wil C. Fry. Some rights reserved.)

At The Arboretum
Baby ducks at the Arboretum pond
(Copyright © 2016 by Wil C. Fry. Some rights reserved.)

My wife and kids on the Arboretum path
(Copyright © 2016 by Wil C. Fry.)

As per our plan, we drove across the highway to The Container Store. I don’t think I’ve been in one of those since the late 1990s. Both my wife and I enjoy containers, organization, and storage solutions, so we enjoyed walking around the store, but we didn’t need anything — our stuff is pretty much stored and organized already — though I could probably spend a lot of money in that store without much prompting. We did buy two wicker baskets for our closet shelf — M had complained recently that our folded bed sheets look “messy” up there.

Since Whole Foods was nearby, and I’ve never been inside one (and the children were thirsty), we went inside. I can’t speak for other Whole Foods locations, just this one, and just on this day, but it was stinky in there. Most of the odors, I could not place, but they seemed to be coming from the products themselves rather than a one-time pipe leak or similar emergency. A few of the smells were decidedly coming from customers — deodorant is optional there. Also, I saw that a gallon of milk was nearly $7 (it’s more like $3 here in Killeen, at H-E-B). After a few minutes, I was (literally) having a difficult time breathing. M bought a few boxes of tea and a bottle of water for the children, and we quickly made our escape.

Since there were no cold drinks in Whole Foods, I went inside a nearby Best Buy and bought a cold lemonade. (Yes, it’s ironic that I went into an electronics store to get a lemonade and that a supermarket did not have any cold drinks.)

RnB near the Colorado River
(Copyright © 2016 by Wil C. Fry.)

Because the weather was still holding — lower 70s by now, clouds breaking up, still no rain — I drove south on Lamar Avenue into the heart of Austin and found a tiny parking lot near the river (Colorado River). I briefly wondered how fast the river flows, because I’d been within sight of the Colorado just a few days earlier, at Colorado Bend State Park. I wondered: if I had dropped something buoyant into the river at the park a few days ago, would it have arrived at Austin by now? Probably.

We did not get a chance to explore all the beauty along the river there, because BWF had an accident (more than 72 hours clean!), but we saw enough to appreciate it. There are walking/jogging/biking trails all up and down the river, and easy places to cross to the south side by foot. Lots of shade trees, flowers, turtles, etc., just a few minutes’ walk from several high-rise residential towers in Austin. (Later, I looked up a few of those towers; you can get a two-bedroom apartment for as little as $3,444 per month! — yes, I’m being sarcastic; that’s a ridiculous price for a small living area.)

RLF and I wanted to return to the trails after BWF got cleaned up, but M pointed out the quick passage of time — it was already 16:15 — so we got in the Sedona and returned home. Traffic on I-35 was ridiculous, which is much better than usual for Austin, in our experience.

I saw enough to know that I’d like to return, whether alone or with the kids, for more exploration along the river and more photography.

Click here to see all the images from the day.

Ann And Roy Butler Hike And Bike Trail
The Ann And Roy Butler Hike And Bike Trail in downtown Austin
(Copyright © 2016 by Wil C. Fry. Some rights reserved.)


  1. Sherry says:

    Enjoyed reading and looking at the pictures.

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