My wife and I started a tradition 6 years ago where instead of gifts for our anniversary we would alternate planning a secret trip for the other person. We alternate every year and this year was Jen's year to plan. This year she picked Austin, Texas and the surrounding areas as I have talked about going to Texas since we started watching the Fixer Upper show on HGTV. I wasn't really enamored by the show, as much as those cut away shots of the wide open countryside. Here are the images we took in Austin, Waco, Crawford, McGregor, and Taylor, Texas. Each section has a small description above it.
First a few big ideas:
1. Austin is hot in the summer. Like, really hot, above 100 everyday, sometimes 110. Our Uber drivers said stay inside between 1-6 pm and bring water everywhere. We napped.
2. Austin is about food trucks, and live music, and you can find them almost anywhere, at almost any time.
3. Austin is also known for bats. They have the largest population of urban brown bats in the country and seeing them leave at dusk from under a bridge is spectacular. PRO TIP: Go to the Four Seasons hotel and sit outside under the live oaks and drink till dusk, then walk down to one of the floating docks to watch them fly out. It's awesome.
4. Austin has a lot of HefeWeizen beer. It's light and fruit forward, so a few local people said it was very popular for the hot summer days. I really liked one called Live Oak.
Our Hotel - A small boutique hotel called the Heywood in East Austin - great location, amazing attention to detail. Minimalist modern.
Our day in Waco at Magnolia. Notes:
1. Waco is huge and so are the lines at Magnolia unless you go in the off season, like we did. We got up at 5:30 am to drive in and had a plan. A cop working crowd control I talked to said the worst time to go is between Thanksgiving and Christmas. We tried to get into the Magnolia breakfast spot in Waco but the line was 2-4 hours long at 10:00am.
2. Magnolia is smaller than we thought and isn't in the actual silos. Most of it is a shopping experience, with some food trucks and outdoor activities. The bakery was good, but again that line.
3. The cheapest thing at the Silos is a coffee cup at 18 dollars, so be prepared to pay for your experience.
4. The Dr. Pepper museum and some antique shops are right around the corner so that is nice.
5. Parking is available in the gravel lot behind the silos, but get there early if you want a spot.
6. Joanna's vision for the space was and is incredible, while there wasn't much for me to do besides shop, I did marvel at her designing an old industrial space into the destination that it has become. Impressive.
My favorite part of the whole trip was turning off the GPS in the rental Jeep and heading out to Crawford, McGregor, and Taylor, Texas. Small towns with gravel roads after gravel roads. Such a nice afternoon. Jen and I took turns driving as I hopped out taking pictures. We got lunch in McGregor and it was straight out of a movie set. I had fried chicken and lemon icebox pie, of course. Here are some shots from that day:
On our last day- and our anniversary- I got up early to shoot some street images of the Mexican neighborhood where our hotel was, then we drank French press on the porch. After it got too hot we headed to Barton Springs where a natural spring creates a reservoir for the locals to cool off in the constant 68 degree waters. The water is a cold contrast to the heat, as everyday we were there it was between 100-104 degrees.